Public Engagement in Social-Ecological Systems Management: An Application of Social Justice Theory

Frederick I. Lauer, Alexander L. Metcalf, Elizabeth C. Metcalf, Jakki J. Mohr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Public engagement is important for improving outcomes of social-ecological systems management. We used a social justice theoretical framework to measure residents’ attitudes toward public engagement processes and satisfaction with outcomes of a restoration project in Western Montana. We predicted process control and decision control domains of procedural justice would significantly predict stakeholder satisfaction, with decision control partially mediating the relationship between process control and satisfaction. We tested these predictions using a path analysis of intercept survey data collected from residents within the project area. We found process control had a significant and positive effect on satisfaction but was fully mediated by decision control, suggesting that successful engagement requires opportunities for stakeholders not only to participate but to clearly shape decisions and outcomes. We discuss implications for public engagement, human dimensions research, and social monitoring of social-ecological systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-20
Number of pages17
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018


  • Citizen participation
  • ecological restoration
  • environmental justice
  • procedural justice
  • resilience
  • social psychology


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