File(s) not publicly available
Evaluating community and government engagement processes in the Central Queensland Region, Australia
There are increasing trends for government to engage communities and stakeholders in a variety of mechanisms as a part of service delivery, planning, and infrastructure and regional development. However, there is little empirical research to guide public managers in determining best value arrangements and strategic investments for building a region’s ‘collaborative advantage’. An economic appraisal of engagement processes might focus on evaluating whether the various benefits of engagement outweigh the costs. It is difficult to identify and assess many of costs and benefits associated with engagement processes. Many of the costs can be identified as transaction costs, where the costs of communication and engagement in a process can be likened to the search, negotiation, monitoring and enforcement costs familiar from market transactions. In a marginal analysis setting, the question is whether the costs occurred from an additional engagement process are justified when the benefits are considered. The benefits of engagement might include improvements to resource allocation and social capital, and reductions in conflict and resistance to change. These benefits are difficult to estimate, although non-market valuation techniques offer some insights into the magnitude of these benefits. In this paper, an approach to evaluate the benefits and costs of a decentralised form of community engagement using the Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA) regional natural resource management (NRM) body from Central Queensland, Australia is presented.