What Citizens Really Want Out of Public Involvement: A Squeaky Wheel Survey of Water Quality Stakeholders
David H. Sumi
Abstract. The purpose of this thesis is to provide a conceptual framework to help public agencies make sense of which attributes of public involvement processes matter most to stakeholders. Data for this thesis were derived from the first 100 response samples of an online stakeholder survey administrated on behalf of the California State Water Resources Control Board. This thesis involved an inductive research approach. Qualitative survey responses were coded into frequency data suitable for quantitative analyses. Based on data analysis using a multidimensional scaling technique, three stakeholders types emerged from the analysis: “Passive Public Participant,” “Active Public Participant,” and “Deliberative Democrat.” The three stakeholder types resemble a continuum of citizen involvement and empowerment. The study results suggest that some stakeholders feel strongly about the importance of deliberative democracy, others emphasize customer service, and many care about both. An important implication is that agencies trying to create opportunities for collaboration and deliberation should not forget to cover the basics such as customer service and responsiveness.