Credible Empowerment and Deliberative Participation: A Comparative Study of Two Nuclear Energy Policy Deliberation Cases in Korea

Sangbum Shin, Taedong Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


What factors make deliberative participation of public policy effective? Why, in some cases, are participants in deliberation more motivated than others, and reach their final judgment in a timely manner, based on systematic processes of opinion gathering and consensus building? By comparing and investigating two recent cases of public participation in energy policy deliberation in Korea, we argue that deliberative participation is more effective when the prospect that the outcome of their activities might be accepted by decision makers is high. The two cases, the public deliberation committee (PDC) on the nuclear waste issue which operated from 2013 to 2015, and the PDC on the nuclear power plant construction issue which operated in 2017, show that they went through similar courses of action, and used similar methods for deliberation. However, while the 2017 PDC has produced clear-cut policy recommendations, and the government have accepted these, the 2013 PDC failed to reach conclusions on the given critical issues. We argue that the difference in the results is caused by credible empowerment along with two other factors––the sensitivity of issues and the learning effect. Participants of deliberation tend to judge the possibility of the government’s acceptance of their opinions based on either the government’s direct announcement or its inclusiveness in the past policy history. If governments are willing to consult the public to increase legitimacy and transparency, they should send explicit signals to the public on its inclusiveness in the short term, and also should increase credibility in the long term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-112
Number of pages16
JournalReview of Policy Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF‐2019S1A5A2A01041081).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Policy Studies Organization

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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