Collaborative Environmental Problem Solving at the Local Level: Process and Impacts

EPA Grant Number: U914929
Title: Collaborative Environmental Problem Solving at the Local Level: Process and Impacts
Investigators: Chess, Caron
Institution: The State University of New York
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: January 1, 1996 through November 1, 1999
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Urban Planning , Academic Fellowships , Environmental Justice


The objective of this research project is to explore collaborative approaches to environmental problem solving on the local level to determine: (1) participants' definitions of success; (2) participants' perceptions of the impact of environmental problem solving; and (3) variables that may be tied to success. New Jersey's 25-year experiment with citizen input is unique in its scope, and provides a rich opportunity for research on local efforts to promote sustainable development.


In this research, the following hypotheses will be tested:

(1) Members of environmental commissions define success in terms of both their satisfaction with the outcome of their efforts and their satisfaction with the process leading to those outcomes. Their definitions of participatory success differ greatly from current normative criteria for successful public participation.

(2) Satisfaction of commission members with the process of environmental problem solving will be greater than their satisfaction with the outcomes of the process.

(3) The greater members' satisfaction with the process of collaboration, the greater their satisfaction with the outcomes of that process.

(4) Members' satisfaction with their impact on local problems will be contingent on the environmental expertise available to members.

(5) The greater the number of systems and routines that a commission has for organizational learning, the greater members' satisfaction with the impact of their commission.

I will identify case studies defined as successful by key informants tied to the state's environmental commissions. Informants might include personnel of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and staff of the nonprofit organization that provides technical support to the commissions.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, urban planning, environmental problem solving, environmental commissions., RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, decision-making, Urban and Regional Planning, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, deliberative policy, community involvement, collaborative resolution, urban planning, environmental decision making, decision making, community based environmental planning, environmental policy, local level

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1996
  • 1997
  • 1998
  • Final