Decision Making - Typology

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Jim Rough:

"Consider these six different kinds of conversation a community might use to determine collective actions:

1. “Power struggle” where people seek to get their way by using argument, status or money. Our representative system is largely structured to use this form of decision-making. Public participation happens when people support candidates or political parties.

2. “Reasoned debate” where there is a thoughtful competition of ideas and a vote, where hopefully the best ideas win. To many this form of decision-making is how our system should work. Public hearings, debates between candidates or pundits on television, or stakeholder meetings are examples of this kind of public participation.

3. “Discussion” where government leaders present their intentions to the voters, answer questions, and listen. “Town meetings” and informal gatherings often follow this model of public participation.

4. “Deliberation” where experts, wise elders, informed citizens, or legislators investigate selected problems, carefully weighing the given options before recommending one to decision-makers. This process is used in citizen advisory panels, National Issues Forums, and Citizens Juries.

5. “Dialogue” where there is a large gathering of people or a network of small gatherings that explores topics open-mindedly. Conversation café’s or salons are examples. In these dialogues people grow in their understandings of issues and one another, but group decisions are rare.

6. “Choice-creating” where diverse people address the most pressing issues collaboratively and creatively, evolving unanimous, win/win conclusions through “shifts” and breakthroughs. The Creative Insight Council and the Wisdom Council process, to be considered later, are examples of this kind of public participation." (

More Information

  1. Book: The Future of Public Participation.