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Valuing dialogue: economic benefits and social impacts

Executive summary

Public dialogue may help policy making by breaking the deadlock of vested interests among stakeholders and bringing important new evidence to inform decisions. It also brings openness, transparency and more democracy to decision-making and can save significant amounts of money. But if it is to achieve this, policy makers need to recognise, understand and value the importance of factoring social impacts into policy considerations and the role of public dialogue in identifying those social impacts.

This paper looks at the question of ‘valuing dialogue’ from two perspectives:

1.    The first is the cost of not doing dialogue. We describe a series of case studies which demonstrate the dangers and costs of failure to engage properly. Damaging outcomes, such as judicial reviews, social protests and U-turns or costly revisions that might have been avoided are outlined.

2.    The second part of this paper looks at the challenge of assessing the value of activities that are not monetisable, and often unquantifiable, and the impact this has on the perceived validity of public dialogue for policy making.

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