Rowe & Frewer (2000) - Public Participation Methods: A Framework for Evaluation

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Rowe, G and Frewer, L (2000): Public Participation Methods: A Framework for Evaluation. In: Science Technology Human Values 25 (3): 3-29


The article deals with the problem of determination of the success of public participation procedures. By proposing an analytical framework, the authors suggest to consider two major categories of criteria to measure the quality of public participation procedures: acceptance criteria on the one hand and process criteria on the other. Further differentiating these two major classes into their sub-criteria the authors assess the ability of different participation procedures (such as Referenda, Public Hearings, Public Opinion Surveys and so on) to match these attributes.


  • According to the authors the family of acceptance criteria consists of:
  1. Representativeness (concerning the participants in proportion to the general public)
  2. Independence (referring to the independence of the process from possible interests and influences by the sponsors or other groups)
  3. Early involvement (concerning the participants to be able to influence the process as soon as value judgements become salient)
  4. Influence (what refers to genuine impact on policy by the process)
  5. Transparency (concerning the openness of information to let the public follow how decisions are made)
  • The family of process criteria is differentiated into the following sub-criteria:
  1. Resource accessibility (referring to the resource participants have available to fulfil their brief)
  2. Task definition (referring to the degree of clearness of the given task)
  3. Structured decision making
  4. Cost-effectiveness


Benchmarking the different participation exercises the authors show in table 2 (p. 19) their results. Referenda, Public Hearings, Public Opinion Surveys, Negotiated Rule Making, Consensus Conferences, Citizens’ Jury/Panels, Citizens Advisory Committees, and Focus Groups are rated according to the authors assessment how well (High/Moderate/Low) they perform generally against the above mentioned sub-criteria of acceptance and the process.