This article makes the case, based on the authors' observation of and participation in stakeholder-based consensus building, that processes that succeed in producing breakthroughs and innovative ways of resolving policy conflict proceed de facto through role playing in which participants play out scenarios and take on different roles. This approach, which is much like the cooperative role-playing games that have recently gained worldwide popularity, allows participants seeking consensus to consider strategies that are not normally acceptable to their agencies and constituencies and to cooperate in a way that is stimulating and encourages their genuine engagement. Participants create packages of recommended actions not through goal-directed analysis, tradeoffs, weighing competing evidence, or taking moral positions, but through collaborative bricolage or tinkering. That is, participants bring to the dialogue the experiences, ideas, methods, and scenarios that they can imagine and then jointly piece them together to create a strategy on which all can agree. The process itself is simply and foremost one of learning, which transforms participants' previously held convictions and helps them to develop new shared meanings, purposes, and innovative approaches to otherwise intractable issues. The examples in the article are drawn primarily from an ongoing consensus building effort in metropolitan transportation planning, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Bay Area Partnership of transportation providers and regulators, designed as a collaboration to implement the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.

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  • Corporate Authors:

    American Planning Association

    122 South Michigan Avenue, Suite 1500
    Chicago, IL  United States  60603-6107
  • Authors:
    • Innes, J E
    • Booher, D E
  • Publication Date: 1999


  • English

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00760973
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 16 1999 12:00AM