The growing scholarship explaining stakeholder engagement in natural resources policy and decision-making has produced theories about how participation does and should occur. Along with yielding more informed decisions that better meet stakeholder needs, numerous other benefits have been attributed to effective engagement practices. Some natural resource contexts, water governance for example, are very well researched, while other emerging decision settings, such as renewable electricity generation, are just gaining attention. Can lessons about stakeholder engagement in one context generalize to another? Understanding whether and how context affects stakeholder engagement could lead to more informed and equitable practices. In this pilot study, we show how the grounded theory literature review method can be used to systematically explore differences in the literatures on stakeholder participation in water governance and renewable energy governance. We find that researchers focus on different phenomena within these two contexts, specifically the kinds of decisions made and who makes them; the type, length, and intensity of stakeholder participation; and the extent to which non-expert stakeholders influence decisions. We suggest two possible reasons for these differences: first, researchers in these two natural resource domains may conceive of and examine stakeholder participation in different ways, asking different kinds of questions; and second, there are real-world differences between these two resource contexts, including different types of stakeholder and institutional capacity, physical differences in the resources and their technical complexity, and scale of the problem. Our research suggests that scholars of stakeholder engagement should pay greater attention to these contextual factors. Given these findings but also the small number of papers analyzed, examination of a larger sample using this method is warranted to generate grounded hypotheses.
- Renewable electricity governance
- Stakeholder participation
- Water governance
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- General Environmental Science