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The Influence of Legal Mandates on Public Participation

Jared Olsen, Mary K. Feeney

Abstract: Legal mandates are a common mechanism to stimulate government agencies to engage the public. Research shows managerial efforts can also affect civic engagement. We first examine whether local government departments that are legally mandated to engage the public have more public participation than departments that are not mandated to do so. We then explore the relationship between manager perceptions of public participation and the frequency of public participation. Finally, we analyze the interactive effect of legal mandates and managerial perceptions. To investigate our research questions, we use regression models on data from a 2018 nationally representative survey of 527 local government managers in the United States. The results indicate legal mandates are not significantly related to public participation, but managerial perceptions are a key factor. These findings support pursuing a managerial approach to advance public participation in local government.
Keywords: engage / legal mandates / public participation / survey / managerial / models / local government

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