public participation, citizen participation, public involvement, transportation, planning


This dissertation examines the public participation activities of State Departments of Transportation (SDOTs) in the United States. A review of existing literature and legal frameworks suggests that an "authentic" public participation results when dimensions of representativeness, use of public inputs, interactiveness, and quality of citizen inputs have been achieved. The study sought to identify conditions that serve as measurements that must presumably be satisfied for authenticity to exist in public participation. The result was a Model of Authentic Public Participation that served as the basis for creation of a new four-tiered methodology to assess the performance of these districts relative to authenticity requirements. This study also sought to identify the key determinants that lead districts to achieve Authentic Public Participation in District public involvement programs. A Predictor Model for Authentic Public Participation was created to test whether the key internal and external determinants are responsible for districts achieving authenticity in their public participation programs. The data for this study came from a mail-back survey that was administered to senior district administrators in 380 State Departments of Transportation districts in the United States. A total of 233 surveys were returned for a response rate of 61.3 percent. The results of the study suggest that most SDOT districts struggle to implement public participation programs that achieve high levels of authenticity. The increased use of public participation tools, specifically those active tools that allow for increased interaction between district staff and the public, can assist districts in achieving higher levels of authenticity in their programs. Of key importance to achievement of authenticity is the willingness of district staff to adopt new ideas and innovation learned from dealings with the public. District public participation programs benefit from training that increases the individual's acceptance of public participation as a valid mechanism for serving the public. Recommendations were made for SDOTs to work toward: • The creation of increased opportunities for the occurrence of Authentic Public Participation • The creation of individual ownership of authenticity in public participation • The creation of community partnerships to foster authenticity in public participation


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Graduation Date





Wang, XiaoHu


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Public Affairs








Release Date

August 2005

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)