Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Environmental Science

First Committee Member

Krystyna Stave

Number of Pages



When lay stakeholders are involved in complex environmental decision making, the ensuing decision does not always effectively solve the problem of focus. This can be due to the fact that standard facilitation methods commonly used to manage such efforts frequently fail to promote thorough and rational decision analysis. A review of classical and behavioral decision theory, stakeholder research and standard facilitation practices suggests that standard facilitation methods tend to enable behavioral decision making strategies which oversimplify decision making tasks, rather than employing classical rational strategies which stress a more thorough decision analysis and maximization of decision outcomes; To test this hypothesis, I conducted a comparative experiment involving 196 stakeholders who attended a solid waste management public meeting in Los Angeles. Participants were randomly assigned to a control and experimental group. The control group was facilitated with standard methods and the experimental group was facilitated with a more classically rational method, specifically system dynamics-based facilitation. Pre- and post-intervention surveys were administered to measure participants' ability to identify effective solutions, their level of focus on the presented materials and their level of procedural satisfaction. I hypothesized that the experimental group would score higher in each of these areas; The results supported my first two hypotheses by showing that the experimental group was better at helping its participants identify more effective outcomes and maintain a greater focus on relevant information. However, the results failed to support the third hypothesis that the experimental group would have a higher level of procedural satisfaction than the control group. Instead, the results showed that the standard facilitation methods used in the control group were better at promoting participant satisfaction and self confidence than were the system dynamics methods; If the objective of stakeholder involvement in complex environmental decision making is the development of effective decisions to solve pressing environmental problems, this experiment shows that system dynamics-based facilitation is an effective tool for managing stakeholder involvement. The results also show that the identification of effective solutions does not guarantee participant satisfaction and confidence.


Decision; Decision-making; Dynamic; Environmental Decision-making; Evaluating; Improving; Making; Public Participation; Stakeholder Involvement; System; Stakeholders

Controlled Subject

Environmental sciences; Public administration

File Format


File Size

4034.56 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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