Goldschmidt (2014) - Kriterien zur Evaluation von Dialog- und Beteiligungsverfahren

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Goldschmidt, R. (2014): Kriterien zur Evaluation von Dialog- und Beteiligungsverfahren Konzeptuelle Ausarbeitung eines integrativen Systems aus sechs Metakriterien. Wiesbaden: Springer VS [1]


The Ph.D.-thesis develops an evaluation-framework that suggests to measure the success of (potentially) deliberative citizen participation events (“Dialog- und Beteiligungsverfahren) against six meta-criteria:

  1. competence development
  2. fairness
  3. legitimacy
  4. transparency
  5. efficiency
  6. effectiveness.

The theoretical perspective applies to citizen participation events that either have a deliberative and/or a result-focused intention. Each of the meta-criteria is structured hierarchically, consisting of sub-criteria and evaluation-aspects that determine the success in each of the six meta-dimensions. Suggestions how to operationalize and to measure the evaluation-aspects in the context of an evaluation-project are given as well.


The two theoretical main perspectives from which the author derives his arguments are Luhmann’s “System Theory” and Habermas’ “Theory of Communicative Action”. From here the author argues to solve problems of (collective) social decision making by citizen participation: to identify those problems and their solution more comprehensively and more effectively (referring to a wider acceptance of decision results) than technocratic and delegated approaches. By arguing in favor of citizen participation the author acknowledges critical views on the problem solving potential of citizen participation and perceives them as an assignment to verify the quality of citizen participation through the means of evaluation. Therefore, instrumental, normative and substantial arguments, that he derives from theoretical literature, lead the way to six meta-criteria that have to be met by a given participatory event to qualify itself as successful. The meta-criteria are described as followed:

  1. Competence development investigates if the participatory event is capable to provide an active knowledge management (e.g. the flow of factual knowledge between experts and the ordinary citizen) and an active competence development of its participants. Participants should be encouraged and empowered to have a substantial and fruitful discourse that enables them to make rational decisions or – if the event is purely deliberative – help them to gain civic skills.
  2. The Fairness criterion is based on discourse theory and tests if basic norms of equity and equality – concerning all relevant groups – before (recruitment), during, and after the participatory process are met.
  3. Legitimacy investigates if genuine legitimacy aspects like the sovereignty of decision making are achieved but also if there are weaknesses or even violations of rules during the process concerning the other meta-criteria. Furthermore, legitimacy should be tested against the acceptance of the process and the results by participants and non-participants.
  4. Transparency assesses the clarity and traceability of information concerning factual knowledge about the object of the deliberation and/or decision making, and information concerning the process that leads to a decision.
  5. Efficiency benchmarks the ratio of the results of a participatory event against the used resources. It therefore focuses on the optimization of the process.
  6. Effectiveness investigates the ratio between the goals of the participatory event and its factual results.


The main result is the developed evaluation-framework that is presented in a condensed form in table 25 (p. 333). Also – as a bonus – problems and challenges that can occur in a given evaluation project that operationalizes the suggested framework are discussed what leads to possible ways how to measure each of the evaluation-aspects.