Who’s Winning the Public Process? How to Use Public Documents to Assess the Equity, Efficiency, and Effectiveness of Stakeholder Engagement

It is widely recognized that stakeholder engagement processes produce advantages, but few studies acknowledge that they also can produce disadvantages. There is a global need to better assess stakeholder engagement processes by defining success and developing new methods to analyze stakeholder participation data. Our method of digitizing and coding stakeholder communications (1) produces a wide range of analyses, (2) tells the story of governance over time, (3) is comparable with other datasets, and (4) can be used wherever public documents exist. We demonstrate the utility of these integrated methods by examining statewide differences in public participation and success rates in Alaska’s Board of Fisheries’ (Board) proposal process. We determine that significantly different participation and success rates across the state indicate the existence of disadvantages and the need for further investigation into the equity, efficiency, and effectiveness of the Board process.