Using deliberative democracy for better urban decision-making through integrative thinking
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© 2021 The Authors. Published by MDPI Publishing.
This article expands the evidence about integrative thinking by analyzing two case studies that applied the collaborative decision-making method of deliberative democracy which encourages representative, deliberative and influential public participation. The four-year case studies took place in Western Australia, (1) in the capital city Perth and surrounds, and (2) in the city-region of Greater Geraldton. Both aimed at resolving complex and wicked urban sustainability challenges as they arose. The analysis suggests that a new way of thinking, namely integrative thinking, emerged during the deliberations to produce operative outcomes for decision-makers. Building on theory and research demonstrating that deliberative designs lead to improved reasoning about complex issues, the two case studies show that through discourse based on deliberative norms, participants developed different mindsets, remaining open-minded, intuitive and representative of ordinary people’s basic common sense. This spontaneous appearance of integrative thinking enabled sound decision-making about complex and wicked sustainability-related urban issues. In both case studies, the participants exhibited all characteristics of integrative thinking to produce outcomes for decision-makers: salience—grasping the problems’ multiple aspects; causality—identifying multiple sources of impacts; sequencing—keeping the whole in view while focusing on specific aspects; and resolution—discovering novel ways that avoided bad choice trade-offs.
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