Consultants in Constructive Citizen Participation
Today, project sponsors and administrators are finding themselves spending
more and more of their time and resources simply reacting to conflict and crisis.
To the surprise of many, they are discovering that much of this is coming from
the community around them, because now people have very different values, goals
and assumptions. As we have seen, this trend is likely to accelerate.
In fact many project delays and postponements and cancellations are unnecessary.
Mistrust stems from uncertainty, poor communication, inadequate information exchange,
basic philosophical differences, and general lack of credibility. Mistrust leads
to confrontation, polarized positions, inflexibility, and entrenched adversarial
roles. Each party needs to at least understand, if not entirely accept, the legitimate
and differing interests, roles and expectations of the other.
Very often, the issue in the public's mind is not so much how to stop the project
altogether, but how to have their concerns integrated into its strategic planning.
However, once conflict has developed, special dedication and skill is required
in its resolution. Better still is the constructive participation of the citizenship
at the outset.
Consequently, consultants are now to be found who have developed various techniques
for working constructively with stakeholder conflict, or who specialize in acting
as independent mediators through communication, education, analysis and soliciting
alternative courses of action.