Collective opinion formation for public decision making in local governments

Ye Tian, Guoray Cai

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Democratic decision making on public issues requires that a collective form of public opinion be constructed in order to be legitimate. However, elicitation of collective public opin-ion has been challenging due to conceptual and methodologi-cal dificulties as well as practical constraints. This paper re-visits existing methods of civic engagement through the lens of structured public decision making, and reveals the discon-nects between methods of public opinion and the need for establishing public value and solid decision analysis in demo-cratic decision making. This explains why the current online deliberation systems fail to support formation of decision-relevant public opinions. Based on such understanding, we propose Community Opinion Elicitation (COPE) as a solu-tion to public engagement in local government decision mak-ing. COPE envisions a three-phase process where opinions from the general public are elicited (Phase III) only after public values and solid decision analysis have been estab-lished (Phases I and II). In practice, COPE is implemented by extending traditional online deliberation with two small-group deliberations that address public value identification and decision analysis. This process has been deployed by State College municipal government as a formal method to engage the public. We report our findings from such field exercises and their implications to scaling up online deliber-ation for public decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationdg.o 2016 - Proceedings of the 17th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research - Internet Plus Government
Subtitle of host publicationNew Opportunities to Solve Public Problems
EditorsYushim Kim, Shuhua Monica Liu
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450343398
StatePublished - Jun 8 2016
Event17th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research, dg.o 2016 - Shanghai, China
Duration: Jun 8 2016Jun 10 2016

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


Other17th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research, dg.o 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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