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Public Policy and Administration


Frances Goldman


Suboptimal public policy formulation and implementation often result from traditional representative democratic practices. Increasing government fragmentation, eroding trust among policy actors, and an increasingly complex policy making environment contribute to this problem. Collaborative decision making is considered to be a pragmatic alternative by its advocates. The purpose of this research was to explore the claim that process dynamics lead participants to prefer collaborative approaches to decision making among local and regional transportation plans in a western state. The conceptual framework was the diversity, interdependence, and authentic dialogue (DIAD) theory-based model of collaboration in decision making. The research questions focused on collaboration participants' perspectives of public decision making, variability of views among collaboration groups, and preferences for collaborative approaches to public decision making. This study employed Q methodology and a 45-statement Q sample about public decision making structured with a 2 X 3 Fisherian research design. Fifty-four Q sorts were collected from two groups of DIAD theory-based collaborative participants and one group of collaborative support professionals. Ten first-order factors were identified among these three groups and used in a second-order factor analysis to identify the higher order views of collaborative, personal-public, and professional-public decision making. Key findings were that study participants support collaborative approaches to public decision making. Study results provide collaboration facilitators with insight into participant views of decision making. The implications for social change are the generation of the deliberative capacity fundamental for democratic societies and increasing civic capacity-building.