Accepted Paper:

How procedural fairness influences the formation of willingness to cooperate in Switzerland's energy transition  


Agnes Harms (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research)
Tobias Schulz (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research)

Paper short abstract:

Cooperation in informal participatory processes enables formal approval procedures to be implemented more efficiently. We investigate how participants willingness to cooperate arise in informal processes. We find that cooperativeness depends on fair process performance and the level of involvement.

Paper long abstract:

Informal public participation strengthens the increased need for coordination of interests of stakeholders and private persons affected by the expansion of energy infrastructure projects. In Switzerland, informal participatory processes take place prior to formal democratic co-determination. Although the Swiss public certainly has ample possibilities to influence energy projects due to approval procedures, municipal assemblies and referenda, an increase in these new participation formats can be observed. In these previously implemented informal processes, reconciling various interests and finding a common solution are sought.

In order to accelerate the implementation of energy projects in formal approval procedures, the cooperation between participants and project leaders in the informal process is advantageous. Whereas the formal procedures are clearly defined in law and ordinances, there are no fixed rules in the informal processes that specify who, how and when should be included. Focusing on procedural fairness as essential feature of these informal processes, we investigate how participants` willingness to cooperate with project leaders changes over the time of a participatory process.

This paper reports about a longitudinal study with participants in eight informal participatory processes of recent wind and hydropower projects with 156 observations in total. The analysis aims to track the effect of procedural fairness on people's willingness to cooperate over time, taking into account trust in leadership and the expectations of social outcomes. We find that the fair process effect varies depending on the level of participants` involvement.

Panel D02
Challenging formal arrangements and decision-making in the energy sector