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Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making (PALO)

Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making (PALO) is a multidisciplinary research project that analyzes problems of practices of long-term decision-making. With the objective to strengthen democracy, it develops better practices for deliberative citizen participation.

The PALO consortium consists of four organizations: University of Turku, Natural Resource Institute Finland, Åbo Akademi University and University of Tampere. The interdisciplinary research team consists of political scientists, environmental scientists, psychologists, behavioral economists and philosophers.

PALO works in close collaboration with knowledge users, such as Ministry of Justice, Policy Analysis Unit of Prime Minister’s Office, Regional Council of Southwest Finland, Regional Council of Satakunta and Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities. The project will make new partners all through its duration.

The four year (2017-2021) project is funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) at the Academy of Finland. SRC provides funding to long-term and programme-based research aimed at finding solutions to the major challenges facing Finnish society.

For more information on the project, please contact Maija Setälä (see contact information here).

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PALO Research

PALO addresses the problem of short-termism in public decision-making and governance. Although there is plenty of information about long-term consequences of human action, this information has limited influence on policy-making. For example, electoral terms arguably shorten politicians’ time spans in representative democracies. Our aim is to consider various solutions to the problem of short-termism, especially those enhancing the role of democratic deliberation in policy-making processes.

PALO analyzes problems of practices of long-term decision-making, for example, by using various experimental methods. PALO builds upon state-of-the-art research in order to develop better decision-making and governance practices.  It also aims to develop new forms of citizen participation in local and regional governance and land use planning. The project is composed of five work packages (WPs).


WP1 Foundations of long-term decision-making | WP leader: Kaisa Herne, University of Tampere

WP1 focuses on the foundations of long-term decision-making by way of philosophical analysis and experimental methods. We analyze the normative question why long-term interests should be taken into account in collective decision-making. Through experimental methods, we explore the role of group biases and deliberation in long-term decision-making as well as the effects of deliberation in common-pool resource problems.


WP2 Problems in present patterns of long-term decision-making | WP leader: Lauri Rapeli, Åbo Akademi

WP2 explores how long-term interests are taken into account in current policy-making practices in Finland. For this purpose, we conduct interviews and surveys among politicians and public administrators at various levels of governance. In addition, we analyze how party structures and decision-making patterns affect debt accumulation in municipalities, and apply scenario techniques to explore the effects of different decision-making mechanisms on policy-makers’ time spans.


WP3 Activating citizens in long-term decision-making | WP leader: Maija Setälä, University of Turku

WP3 asks how democratic and participatory institutions could be developed to take long-term interests better into account. We are particularly interested in democratic innovations such as citizens’ initiatives and forums for citizen deliberation such as deliberative mini-publics. Our aim is to develop designs where deliberative mini-publics are connected to processes of direct and representative democracy.


WP4 Instruments for long-term environmental governance | WP leader: Juha Hiedanpää, Natural Resources Institute Finland

WP4 explores how citizens and stakeholders could be better involved in environmental governance to ensure long-term commitment. Together with regional governments and other stakeholders, we aim to co-design and test novel, deliberative mechanisms of stakeholder engagement in decision-making on land use issues.


WP5  Interaction | WP leader: Henri Vogt, University of Turku

WP5 pertains to interaction with various stakeholders and the society at large. The PALO project closely cooperates with a range of partners in politics and public administration as well as civil society, with an aspiration to improve the quality of democracy in Finland and elsewhere.