The Graphic Display of Normative Values: More Complete Information in Consensus Decisionmaking
East Carolina University
Last modified: January 28, 2006
Preferences are balanced between the pressures exerted on decisionmakers. Even if it is possible to reach consensus regarding the social and economic impacts, other equally salient issues also inform the outcome of decisions. As a result, political considerations are often dominate policy development. To be useful, actions to facilitate decision making must include a breadth of stakeholder perceptions and values, not just constructed value preferences of the evaluator.
To effectively support consensus, decisionmakers need a tool that: 1) concentrates on the values that are actually guiding decisions on a case-by-case basis, 2) reflects the diversity of voices represented, and 3) is intuitive, serving as a mental guide to aid in understanding value positions for reaching a common and acceptable decision conclusions. A more accurate and realistic representation of decision making requires the inclusion of the descriptive, normative value constructions that exist in decision deliberation. Such a representation creates a value sensitive rendering with an individualís primary source of certainty - their own construction of the situation. This certainty can then lead to a more defendable and more understandable decision, even though it may be a less statistically predictable or replicable conclusion.
This paper describes a mixed methodology that results in a quantitative model to aid in identifying and describing complex normative values held by stakeholders. The graphic model allows the values of multiple stakeholders to be displayed simultaneously, anonymously, in real time. As a result, value differences and commonalities between individual policy makers can be seen by all other stakeholders. This information can serve to inform possible consensus building strategies, and create understanding in the value positions held by other decision makers, showing the relative distance between the individual value positions.