Bureaucratizing Participation: Stakeholders' Perceptions of the Administrative Rules Governing Public Participation in the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization

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Virginia Tech

This dissertation explores multiple stakeholders' perceptions with regard to administrative rules governing public participation in the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO) in Virginia. In 2007, the HRTPO received conditional certification during its quadrennial review with seven corrective actions related to public participation. Subsequently, it started to reform its public participation practices, and in 2012 it received full certification. This study explores how the HRTPO stakeholders perceive the administrative rules that govern public participation processes, more positively (as 'green tape') or more negatively (as 'red tape'), and how those perceptions have changed since 2007, relying on in-depth interviews as well as archival documents. Before 2007, top management officials had pessimistic perceptions of public participation in general and the rules in particular. The negative perceptions changed when new senior staff arrived in 2008 and initiated reforms, most notably by hiring a public involvement administrator. Acting as a transformative leader, this administrator began to adopt outreach programs, which stakeholders considered successful. By unpacking the notion of stakeholder red tape, guided by the attributes of stakeholder red tape and green tape, this study found that stakeholders perceived the rules more positively than they did in 2007.

Administrative rules, green tape, stakeholder red tape, public participation, transportation planning organization