Setting an Agenda for Local Action: The Limits of Expert Opinion and Community Voice

Silver, D., Weitzman, B.C. & Brecher, C.
Policy Studies Journal (2002 - Vol. 30, No. 3), pp. 362-278.

Many social programs, funded by government or philanthropy, begin with efforts to improve local conditions with strategic planning. Mandated by funders, these processes aim to include the views of community residents and those with technical expertise. Program leaders are left to reconcile public and expert opinions in determining how to shape their programs. The experience of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Urban Health Initiative suggests that although consultation with experts and the public failed to reveal a clear assessment of the community's problems or their solutions, it did assist in engaging diverse groups. Despite this engagement, however, core leaders wielded substantial power in selecting the agenda.

Wagner Faculty