By Gabriele Bammer
What can researchers interested in stakeholder engagement learn from two classic frameworks on citizen involvement in government decision making – Arnstein’s ladder and the IAP2 (International Association for Public Participation) spectrum of public participation?
Sherry Arnstein (1969) developed an eight-rung ladder, shown in the figure below, to illustrate that there are significant gradations of citizen participation in government decision making.
The two bottom rungs are manipulation and therapy. Manipulation refers to putting citizens on “rubberstamp advisory committees or advisory boards” (p. 218) to “educate” them or engineer their support. Therapy involves changing the citizen view of the problem.