Methods: Researchers partnered with RPC leadership to create a survey that included 21 items from a standardized collaborative governance instrument. Three waves of surveys were administered to all RPC participants in six-month intervals over a one-year period. 100 percent of eligible participants completed them. This study analyzes data from the second and third waves (N=364). Responses to survey items were structured on a five-point Likert scale (strongly disagree=1; strongly agree=5). The dependent variable, perception of voice, was based on a composite of three statements: I feel my goals are represented in the decision-making process; I am satisfied with my contribution to the RPC; there is sufficient opportunity for me to express my views about what I think. Stakeholder group was measured with a categorical variable. Bivariate analyses assessed the association between stakeholder group and participants’ perception of voice. A multivariable linear regression assessed associations among perception of voice and stakeholder group, sociodemographic characteristics, and RPC experiences. Collinear and non-significant variables were removed from the model based on goodness-of-fit and multicollinearity diagnostics.
Results: All groups perceived a high degree of voice. In the bivariate analysis, membership in the local government stakeholder group was significantly and positively associated with participants’ perception of voice (β=0.84; 95% CI: 0.20, 1.48). In multivariable analysis, stakeholder group membership was not significantly related to perception of voice. RPC experiences positively and significantly associated with perception of voice were: satisfied with goals and objectives [β=0.52; 0.31, 0.74]; the right data is being used [β=0.22; 0.13, 0.26]; comfortable with other participants [β=0.22, 0.20, 0.64]; the purpose is clear [β=0.33; 0.12, 0.55]; the process is clear [β=0.63; 0.42, 0.84]; the process is facilitated fairly [β=0.19; 0.13, 0.26].
Conclusions and Implications: Participants reported similarly positive perceptions that their views contributed to deliberative processes. Perception of voice depended on their satisfaction with goals and objectives, data that were used, other participants, clarity of purpose and process, and fairness of facilitation. These findings point macro practitioners and social work scholars to the group-based techniques and processes of collaborative governance that are most important for equitable stakeholder engagement in policy decisions.