Organizational Learning about Public Participation: “Tiggers” and “Eeyores”
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The perceptions of “public” members of participation processes have been studied far more than those of agency personnel. To improve the practice of public participation, this study, using Q analysis, explores how personnel from one agency view their experience, expertise, and learning with regard to communication with the public, including but not limited to public participation. Without organizational learning, which is more than the aggregation of individual learning, inferences from history will be lost. We found two perspectives: the Enthused (“Tiggers”), who focus on the support they receive for communication activities, including learning, and the Constrained (“Eeyores”), who see the limitations of their program and their own learning. The differences in the perspectives were not associated with agency unit, level of hierarchy, communication training, or tenure in the agency. We suggest ways to promote interchange among these participants through double-loop learning, which has similarities to the interactive, recursive processes that can integrate analysis and deliberation.