Comparing Stakeholder Perceptions With Empirical Outcomes From Negotiated Rulemaking Policies: Is Participant Satisfaction a Proxy for Policy Success?

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Evaluation of natural resource management policies often is made difficult by lack of robust or long-term data on the resource. In the absence of empirical data, natural resource policy evaluation may rely on expert or stakeholder perception of success as a proxy, particularly in the context of policies that depend on multi-stakeholder engagement or negotiated rulemaking. However, few formal evaluations have compared empirical ecological outcomes with stakeholder perception. This study compares stakeholder perceptions of policy outcomes with ecological outcomes from a long-term, ecological dataset as part of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act's Take Reduction Planning process. Structural Equation Models revealed that stakeholder perceptions were significantly and positively related to positive ecological outcomes. Also, perceived success and ecological performance rankings of the Take Reduction Plans were comparable for three of the five plans examined. This analysis suggests that for this particular policy instrument, stakeholder perception aligns well with ecological outcomes, and this positive relationship is likely the result of a commitment and support for stakeholder education and engagement. However, even within a single policy analysis, there was variability suggesting that the relationship between stakeholder perceptions and policy outcomes must continue to be evaluated. This study suggests that stakeholder perception can be an accurate reflection of ecological outcomes, but not necessarily a predictor of them.





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Roady, S, S McDonald, R Lewison, R Kramer, D Rigling-Gallagher and A Read (2016). Comparing Stakeholder Perceptions With Empirical Outcomes From Negotiated Rulemaking Policies: Is Participant Satisfaction a Proxy for Policy Success?. Marine Policy, 73. pp. 224–230. 10.1016/j.marpol.2016.08.013 Retrieved from

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Stephen Roady

Senior Lecturing Fellow of Law

Steve Roady holds appointments as a professor of the practice of law at Duke Law School, professor of the practice of marine science and conservation at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and as a faculty fellow in Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Prior to joining the Duke faculty in 2016, he devoted over three decades to litigation and administrative advocacy enforcing the public health and environmental protections contained in federal statutes enacted between 1970 and 1990. His work focused particularly on improving air and water quality, safeguarding mountain and stream ecosystems, and conserving ocean and coastal resources.  For several years, he managed the oceans program at Earthjustice (the public interest law firm known formerly as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund).  

Roady has litigated and provided advice and counseling in both federal court and agency proceedings on separate matters arising under a variety of federal statutes, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  His federal court cases expanded the duty of federal agencies to consider environmental impacts. They buttressed public access to information. They imposed clear duties on the federal government to manage fishing in a sustainable manner. They saved mountain streams.  And they protected the Missouri River from unauthorized water withdrawals.

Roady also worked in the Congress of the United States, and has had extensive involvement in many administrative agency proceedings. He was the principal staff member for the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works involved in drafting the permitting provisions of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. He represented various environmental organizations in negotiations with the Council on Environmental Quality as it formulated a new national ocean policy in 2009. He assisted a number of Pacific Small Island Developing States as they worked in the international legal community to protect against sea level rise and ocean acidification.  At present he is working to help the International Seabed Authority formulate regulations that would preserve the marine environment in connection with deep seabed mining.

During 2001 and 2002, Roady served as the first president of Oceana, an international, nonprofit, non-government organization dedicated to protecting life in the sea.  Between 1998 and 2001, Roady started and led the Ocean Law Project, which established many precedents requiring the government to better protect the ocean ecosystem.

Roady’s recent writings focus on deep seabed mining questions, and on ocean stewardship duties under the Public Trust Doctrine. Other published works include articles explaining key federal statutes and doctrines that protect ocean life, and articles that detail the legislative history of the permitting and enforcement provisions of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

Roady has been teaching a course on ocean and coastal law and policy at Duke Law School and at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment since 2003, and received a Professor of the Year Award from the Duke School of the Environment in 2008. During 2007-2008, he was recognized as a Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow by Harvard Law School.




Randall Kramer

Juli Plant Grainger Professor Emeritus of Global Environmental Health

Before coming to Duke in 1988, he was on the faculty at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He has held visiting positions at IUCN--The World Conservation Union, the Economic Growth Center at Yale University, and the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry. He has served as a consultant to the World Bank, World Health Organization and other international organizations. He was named Duke University's Scholar Teacher of the Year in 2004.

Kramer's research is focused on the economics of ecosystem services and on global environmental health. He is currently conducting a study on the effects of human land use decisions on biodiversity, infectious disease transmission and human health in rural Madagascar. Recent research projects have used decision analysis and implementation science to evaluate the health, social and environmental impacts of alternative malaria control strategies in East Africa. He has also conducted research on health systems strengthening, economic valuation of lives saved from air pollution reduction. and the role of ecosystems services in protecting human health.


Andrew J Read

Stephen A. Toth Distinguished Professor of Marine Biology in the Nicholas School of the Environment

I study the conservation biology of long-lived marine vertebrates, particularly marine mammals, seabirds and sea turtles. My work, and that of my students, documents the effects of human activities on populations of these species. Our work involves field work, experimentation and modeling. I am particularly interested in the development and application of new conservation tools.

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