Date and Location

November 14, 2019
11:45 AM - 1:00 PM
Wex-434b Conference Room

Contact

617-496-2737

Citizen participation in decision-making has been widely
lauded as a method for improving outcomes in international development and
environmental management, among other areas. Advocates of participatory
decision-making claim that participation leads to both better decisions and
more pro-social behavior. Yet despite widespread support for participation in
both rhetoric and donor funding, empirical evidence for the positive effects of
participation remains mixed. Existing work provides little guidance to policy-makers,
for whom the most pressing question is: how should participatory institutions
be designed to maximize social benefits? Complex variation in program design
that complicates our ability to isolate the effects of particular aspects of
participation in observational data. Experimental work can be an important
complement in this regard. I illustrate this with discussion of a behavioral
lab experiment in Nairobi, Kenya, in which participants were randomly assigned
to different forms of collective decision making. I find that deliberative
argumentation – but not majority voting – improves collective outcomes, mostly
through better decision making. Evidence for behavior change is weaker, but
there may be a positive effect mediated by preference change. Future work will
expand the forms of participation under study and seek to replicate the
research in a field setting. This is the first step in a long-term research
agenda that moves beyond the question of whether participation in decision
making is desirable, toward a more nuanced understanding of which forms of
participation improve which outcomes under what conditions.

Speakers and Presenters

​Tara Grillos, Assistant Professor in Political Science at Purdue University

Organizer

Co-Organizer