A theory-building workshop on what makes a better consultation

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A theory-building workshop on what makes a better consultation and making sense of (e)-consultation. You might be particularly interested in reconciling theories of deliberative democracy, public sector management and information systems.

This workshop is an attempt to workout how active researchers can make sense of what is 'better' consultation in process of public consultation or evaluate the effects of technologies.

Back in October 2004, Michele Smyth found it hard to reconcile the different literatures relevant to e-consultation. She thought it was a problem in her literature review. In fact, it is a problem in the literature itself. Researchers working in public sector management, deliberative democracy, and computer supported co-operative work, the psychology of computer mediated communications pay attention to different things, and evaluate against different criteria. In some cases they have conflicting values. So it is hard to reconcile the theories. But that doesn't mean it cannot be done.

Then in January, when Michael Murray at Maynooth started to compare the questionnaire responses from the public sector consulters, with the focus group statements of community and voluntary sector consultees, he found a similar sharp contradiction in values and expectations between the two groups. Is consultation about ongoing citizen engagement in decision-making, or collecting citizens' views to help professionals make a more effective decision?

More detail explanation on why this is a problem for researchers is found in section 2 of workshop proposal (PDF)

Back in December 2004, we had a workshop E-consultation theory involving researchers from two cross-border research projects: Richer Decisions and E-consultation. We set this up to brainstorm the issues and try to come up with new ways of looking at the problem. Outline of this session is avilable at Theory of Six Hats

On Tuesday 17th May we will start from these ideas and develop them further or to come up with alternative approaches to understanding consultation and e-consultation. We will also explore similar ideas could be developed or drawings on the theories of different research schools. What syntheses or comparisons are possible?

Date & Time: Tuesday 17th May, 10:00am to 13:00pm Venue: Computer suite, 25 University Square, Queen's University Belfast