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The Concept of Covaluation:
Institutionalising the Involvement
of Local (Public) Values in Regional
Planning on Water
Nienke van Schie* and Jan Jaap Bouma**
This paper discusses the issue of valuation with respect to the use of water systems
and related infrastructures in the context of regional planning. It is argued that a
further institutionalisation of the integration of local (public) values into interactive
decision making is needed. This requires an institutional design that embeds local
values in the use of valuation methods and rules and guidelines relevant to regional
planning. Existing procedures of valuation and weighing may still be used but in a
context of co-valuation. However, co-valuation is characterized by its multi-actor
approach towards valuation that assesses different and sometimes competing
values. A case study was conducted to experiment with the combination of
deliberation and weighing in local/regional spatial development concerning water
systems and related infrastructures. Based on the case study and related research,
some first steps towards the involvement of local values in decision making are
Keywords: institutionalization; local values; non-market goods; regional planning;
water management; value-based governance; covaluation
Corresponding author. PhD-student, Erasmus centre for Sustainability and Management (ESM),
Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Email: [email protected]
Section Economics of Infrastructures, Faculty Technology, Policy and Management, Delft
University of technology (TUDelft), The Netherlands, and Erasmus centre for Sustainability and
Management (ESM), Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Email: [email protected]
Competition and Regulation in Network Industries, Volume 9 (2008), No. 4
Nienke van Schie and Jan Jaap Bouma
There has been a need for new ways to deal with different stakes in decision making
processes on regional planning and water management.2 This need grew out of
changes in aims as well as in processes of decision making in these fields of policy. For
the weighing of effects of different alternatives, the method of Societal Cost-Benefit
Analysis (SCBA) came to the fore, which in the Netherlands is increasingly applied.
Next to that a shift towards more participation and interactive decision making
processes can be observed, involving local actors and stakeholders in the development
of alternatives. As this introduces the perceptions of local actors into the process, this
raises the question how to involve these perspectives in the process and especially the
weighing of alternatives. What exactly are local or societal perspectives and values,
and how can these be compared to e.g. monetary estimates of effects? Many methods
for measuring local perspectives and values have been applied, resulting in increasing
knowledge on the issue. As it comes to decision making however, these perspectives
often remain underexposed, a.o. due to inclarity over their involvement in the process.
Hence there is a need for the operationalisation of the issue of local perspectives and
values. In this paper this issue is discussed in the context of decision making on local/
regional Dutch water management.
Water is crucial to many economic activities. As a natural resource, water is
embedded in a number of different systems such as rivers, lakes, sea-inlets and oceans.
Most water systems are on the short or long run interlinked and are open systems,
which can be either natural or man-made. Direct human intervention takes place by
means of hydraulic engineering technologies, or by water distractions for agricultural,
industrial or communal drinking water uses. Human intervention in water systems
may also be indirect through either global or local environmental problems that affect
water qualities or quantities; global environmental problems such as climate change,
and local environmental problems such as groundwater pollution. Climate change
directly interferes with water systems because of changes in frequency and quantity of
rainfalls and rising sea levels, affecting not only water quantities in many water
systems but also water quality in these systems. For example, the Netherlands faces
increasing salination and rivers may bring in contaminated water into the lower parts
of Deltas. Figure 1 illustrates an approach to visualize the natural and man-made
physical characteristics of water systems and the economic value chains that tap or
use water from these systems.
This article is a revised version of a paper presented at the 11th Conference Economics of
Infrastructures; ‘Transitions in utility infrastructures’, Technical University of Delft, 22–23 May
In this article water management and spatial organization (regional planning) are perceived to be
interdependent and interwoven.
The Concept of Covaluation
The management of natural water systems is the key to managing the many water
systems that generate economic value by providing water of certain quantities and
qualities. Important value chains are drinking water, sanitation, and the production
of agricultural and industrial products. Also, the generation of values such as
recreation and ecological values should be mentioned. A value chain is the order of
different activities that starts with the resource generation and ends normally with the
consumption and disposal phase of the product or service (further on referred to as
products) for which the resources serve as inputs. The analytical concept of a value
chain provides insight into the competition position of a firm or parts of a firm in the
lifecycle of products (Porter, 1980). All value chains attract natural resources, however
the lifecycle of a specific product may also start with the re-use of disposed or recycled
materials. How different value chains are connected to water systems is illustrated in
regional planning where different value chains come together (housing and building
sector, transportation, drinking water and sanitation, energy sector).
Figure 1. Multiple value chains in using the physical water system3
The second section of this article focuses on some developments in Dutch regional
planning and water policy; developments in aim and scope, methods and techniques
This figure does not claim completeness; it only schematizes the relation between uses of water and
the physical system.
Competition and Regulation in Network Industries, Volume 9 (2008), No. 4
Nienke van Schie and Jan Jaap Bouma
to support decision making and practical problems that arise. Section 3 describes
approaches to the measurement and valuation of effects on market- and non-market
goods, after which some problematic issues and difficulties in practice are observed.
Section 4 presents a case study in which local values are involved in the development
of alternatives for regional planning and attempts are made to involve different values
in the decision making. Following from the experiences in this case study section 5
proposes a start for operationalising the concept of local values and their involvement
in decision making. An approach of covaluation is presented, aiming at the achievement
and sustaining of support for public decisions concerning water in spatial organisation,
by involving local values up to the weighing and decision making stages. Conclusions
are presented in the sixth and final section.4
2.Developments in Dutch regional planning
and water management
The object of study of this article is the processes of institutionalisation in involving
values in interactive decision making concerning water in spatial organisation. Many
theoretical perspectives on decision making and valuation exist. In this article, a
decision making process is interpreted as a complex and non linear process in which
many (mutually dependent and non-rationally behaving) actors are active, who act in
– and perceive the issue of concern from – different contexts, and pose different aims
and restrictions on the process. Within a decision making process valuation takes
place, which is interpreted as the process of attributing value to a certain issue. In this
article, ‘value’ is read as a complex and multi-dimensional notion; hence the value of
some issue (as attributed by local actors or stakeholders) may not always be revealed
by or measured in monetary terms. What value is attributed by a certain actor/
stakeholder is strongly influenced by its context, making the valuation process a
complex and contextualized element of the decision making. The concept of ‘local
value’ is further specified in section 5. Valuation takes place implicitly as well as
explicitly and (with respect to decision making in Dutch water management and
regional planning) its process is partly institutionalised in rules and guidelines. These
institutions and developments in Dutch regional planning and water management are
discussed in this paragraph. In this a process of institutionalisation is perceived as the
(formal as well as informal) establishment in rules, agreements, conventions or other
records, of ‘rules of the game’ of a process of valuation and decision making.5
The case study and related research on covaluation are subject of the PhD-research by the publishing
author. All (tentative) observations and conclusions presented are ‘work in progress’.
Hence in this article institutions are perceived as rules or other (broadly interpreted) restrictions
for behavior, possibly developed (‘institutionalized’) into an organization (surpassing the definition
of institutions as organizations only).
The Concept of Covaluation
2.1.Developments in regional planning and water
Water provides multiple functions for society; water systems not only provide drinking
water but also are essential for infrastructures of sanitation and e.g. recreation. As a
result, water is valued in many different functions and appearances, which is done by
different stakeholders and actors (users), and in different contexts. This
multifunctionality is schematized in Figure 1. Next to these values derived from
different uses of water, also values not directly related to its use can be attributed, for
example esthetical value of natural sites, or moral value. These are represented by the
arrows at the bottom of Figure 1. Its multifunctionality causes water to be an important
subject of different and hence overlapping elements of policy and regulations, many of
which pose claims on the available space. Because of the country’s low altitude and the
intensive land use (high densities of people, animals, infrastructure and economic
activities), this is an important subject in the Netherlands (Dijk van, 2008). Currently
the aim is to manage these different systems and policy subjects in an integrated way,
approaching the water system as a complex and multifunctional system in which
many actors are involved. This is reflected in national policy documents on spatial
organization and planning as well as on water management.
In The Netherlands regional planning6 is increasingly applied in spatial planning
processes (Groffen, van Luin et al., 2006; van Rooy, van Luin et al., 2006), also with
respect to water in spatial organisation (RIZA, Rijkswaterstaat et al., 2002). The
current national policy document on spatial planning7 (2006) addresses this by
enabling decentral (public and private) parties that are involved to take responsibility
in spatial development, resulting in less State dominance and new cooperations. Also
an integral approach of spatial issues is required.
This development reflects a turn towards a mere Anglo-Saxon model of society, in
which pluricentric ‘governance’ takes place by many and diverse (public as well as
private) parties involved, not focusing on consensus but led by competition.
In water management, an analogous shift towards the integration of policy fields
and practices of ‘governance’ can be observed. Dutch water management has seen
major changes during the last decades. For centuries water management was
dominated by a focus on safety against flood, forcing back water to its own defined
domain. Water policy and decision making was perceived as a matter of technical
engineering. During the 80s however, one realized this approach would not be able to
solve the current complex problems of water management providing no guaranty of
safety from floods. Hence the last decade saw a shift in both the aim and perception of
water policy and management, turning towards adaptive water management and
In Dutch: ‘regionale gebiedsontwikkeling’.
In Dutch: 6th ‘Nota Ruimte’ (2006).
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Nienke van Schie and Jan Jaap Bouma
combining water policy with other spatial fields. While safety is still a major concern,
terms like ‘room for water’ and ‘living with water’ illustrate this approach. Growing
numbers of vision- and policy documents aim at putting this new vision into practice
and to give more space to the water (Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat, 2000;
Ministerie van LNV V&W EZ en VROM, 2006; Ministerie van VROM, 2006;
Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat, 2007).
Together with this shift in aim also a shift from a mere technocratic orientation of
water management towards collaborative governance took place, in which new, more
deliberative forms of democracy are introduced into the existing representative system
which is widely recognized (Sabatier, Focht et al., 2005; Scholz and Stiftel, 2005). In
order to cope with the many different stakes concerning water and spatial policy,
decision making is increasingly executed in an interactive way, in which governmental
parties together with societal and private actors search for solutions. This fits with a
broader shift from government to governance in which more direct forms of influence
on policy making are applied, in order to deal with the complexity of spatial issues,
also reflected in (regional) spatial planning policy. Technocratic approaches of decision
making stress that trained experts are best suited to support and provide input for
complex – and assumed merely technical – decision making. There is, however,
declining belief in the superiority of these experts, as such decision making does not
always provide stable solutions to societal problems that are often complex, conflicting
and unclear in nature. The perception of scientific knowledge (as input for a decision
making process) has become increasingly contextualised (Nowotny, Scott et al., 2001),
in which the establishment and production of knowledge has become a plural and
contextualised activity, involving perspectives of local actors and stakeholding parties.
In this ‘joint fact finding’, collaborative and participatory approaches are applied,
involving ‘knowledge’ and insights from a wide range of perspectives as input for the
decision making process, and aiming at a ‘serviceable truth’ (Jasanoff, 1990).
National water policy documents unanimously plea for an interactive and
participative approach and also at the international level this approach is recognized,
for example the European Water Framework Directive (EU-WFD) obliging decision
makers in water policy to active participation of all societal parties involved. In the
Netherlands extensive use of stakeholder involvement is applied, particularly at the
levels of local and provincial government (Edelenbos and Monnikhof, 1998, 2001).
The Concept of Covaluation
2.2. Methods and techniques to support decision
As a result of the many, potentially different, stakes involved in spatial organization,
decision making on water systems affecting spatial planning thus is a complicated
issue, in which the stakes of many different parties must be weighed. As in other fields
of policy, this asked for new ways of dealing with (potentially controversial) stakes in
decision making processes.
Attempting to weigh the different stakes, and the costs and benefits of different
measures and alternatives, several methods and approaches came to the fore aiming
at making the many stakes indifferent, or comparable at the least. For example, for
environmental issues a ‘m.e.r.’ procedure is legally obliged in important spatial
decisions like the construction of (high)roads, harbours, airports, or dykes8, ensuring
environmental issues of measures are taken into account. In order to assure concern
for water in spatial decision making processes, in 2001 a Water Assessment was
introduced in Dutch planning processes, aiming at the explicit and balanced
involvement of the aims of the water system in spatial plans (van Dijk, 2008).
Methods for the valuation of environmental effects have been developed from a
neoclassic economic point of view. Based on welfare-economics, different valuation
methods have been applied to estimate the (monetary) value of goods/services, also
for those which values are not reflected on the market. An overview of such methods
is provided by e.g. Turner et al. (2001), or (Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat, 2003)
for the Dutch water policy context. Generally, the specific case and subject of valuation
determine which method(s) should be applied, as methods all have their advantages
and disadvantages, are based on different assumptions and differ in the type of values
and effects that can be considered (Bouma, Francois et al., 2008).
In the Netherlands, from the 1980s onwards many approaches and methods were
applied causing highly diverse estimates of the economic effects and societal revenues
of measures, resulting in increasing intransparency and inclarity of decisions being
made (Schuijt, 2003a). In response to this problematic decision making, in 2000 a
guideline for decision making on big infrastructural projects was developed
(Eijgenraam, Koopmans et al., 2000). The OEI guideline9 aims to increase the
transparency and rationality of decision making by requiring a check of measures on
cost effectiveness and societal support. The guideline prescribes to apply a welfare
M.e.r. stands for ‘environmental effects report’. Since 1985 its application is obligatory in all member
states of the EU on the operational level of projects. In the Netherlands the application of m.e.r. is
established in chapter 7 of the Law on Environmental protection (Wet Milieubeheer) and the
Resolution m.e.r. 1994.
OEI stands for ‘Overview Effects on Infrastructure’.
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Nienke van Schie and Jan Jaap Bouma
perspective and support the decision making process with an SCBA.10 The SCBA
must involve all effects of measures in monetary terms, for which several valuation
methods have been mentioned. The OEI-guideline and application of SCBA were
initially meant for big and ‘dry’ infrastructural projects only, however from 2006
onwards the method has been increasingly applied in a wide range of projects and
studies, also at a regional level (see the report ‘SCBA on a regional scale’; (Sterk
Consulting, Bureau Buiten et al., 2007). Recently it was observed that the application
of SCBA and the weighing of costs and benefits gain importance in environmental
decision making as well (RMNO, 2008). For this purpose a guideline on SCBA in
environmental policymaking was developed (Bruyn, Blom et al., 2007).
Currently in SCBA also costs and benefits with less tangible values are involved,
requiring adequate valuation techniques for the monetary valuation of non-market
goods. Concerning environmental policy-making this involves the monetary valuation
of e.g. ecological and social dimensions. Also in (regional) water management this is
increasingly applied (see
2.3. Practical observations
Recapitulating, it can be stated that not only the solutions water management aims for
have changed; also the way in which these solutions are achieved and evaluated has
changed. Following current developments in regional planning, decision making in
spatial organisation and water management is increasingly executed in a (more or
less) interactive way and often the weighing process is supported by an SCBA.
At this stage it can be concluded that institutional coordination of water
infrastructures in the process of regional planning concentrates on the embedding of
different values of water in institutional mechanisms, allocating water to different
value chains within the short and long run. The journey towards static efficiency
would request a price for using water systems that equals the marginal costs of their
use. Also, a situation of allocative efficiency should be present; i.e. to serve all users of
the water system who are prepared to pay at least the market price.
This however may be very difficult to achieve because of a lack of consensus on the
benefits that should be captured in pricing the use of a water system. The organization
of the allocative system shows that the valuation of water and water systems is rather
a process than applying a certain valuation technique. Markets play a role in capturing
the value of water into a market price to only some extent. In this respect there is an
ongoing debate amongst economists and non-economists. Questions that arise
concern the role of a societal cost benefit analysis (SCBA) in assessing alternative
interventions in water systems and how to deal with water values that are difficult to
The SCBA (Societal Cost Benefit Analysis) is obliged for ‘big’ projects of the Ministery of transport,
public works and water management (V&W), having a national impact. The guideline is considered
appropriate for smaller projects as well, but is recommended in these cases only.
The Concept of Covaluation
monetarize. Designing institutions provide rules of the game for the valuation process
within water management. This is an important dimension of value-based governance
approaches, in which co-valuation is a possible approach to be followed. The simple
use of a CBA is clearly not enough for issues rising in the water sector; many conflicts
in the water sector are related to distributional effects of interventions in water
systems. A CBA does not provide an answer to these issues.
It is unclear how these processes of institutionalisation are related, raising
questions about the application of interactive methods within steered weighing and
decision making processes. For example, the EU-WFD obliges to public participation,
but its relation towards the prevailing utilitarian perspective is not specified, nor what
participatory methods should be used (Ollivier, 2004). In Dutch practice, the obligation
to apply a m.e.r. procedure obstructs the regional planning process (van Rooy, van
Luin et al., 2006). Also, the (prescribed) application of SCBA in a decision making
process and related valuation process and methods applied is not clarified. SCBA is a
very suitable method in many cases; however, some of its elements may not be effective
in the context of valuation within an interactive decision making process concerning
regional planning. In order to value effects on public, non-monetary issues, a
neoclassical approach may not be suitable (Jacobs, 1997; Bouma, Francois et al., 2008).
In the remainder of this article we focus on one of these issues concerning these
processes of institutionalisation, which is the involvement of multiple perspectives on
the value of water in weighing and decision making, in relation to the generally
executed application of SCBA.
Valuation of market and non-market goods
in regional planning
In order to measure the effects of alternatives in regional planning, various valuation
methods are used in the context of societal cost benefit analyses. Traditionally these
methods apply a neoclassical economic, welfarist perspective, focusing on the
(monetary) market values of effects on private goods, based on the market mechanism.
As it was increasingly recognized these market prices of private goods did not always
reflect all costs and benefits concerned with certain alternatives, and enforced by
growing environmental concerns in society, during the last decades also effects on
public goods, not reflected on a market, were tried to be involved in weighing methods
for decision making. This resulted in the development of various methods to
monetarize effects on non-market goods and services. This section discusses these
methods for valuing (private) market and (public) non-market goods and services and
pays attention to their level of interactivity. These methods are not specifically designed
to be used within the context of regional planning but may well be applicable.
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Nienke van Schie and Jan Jaap Bouma
Valuation methods and their applicability
The total economic value that can be given to the use of water systems in a regional
plan can be divided into user values and non-user values. Use value is derived from
the actual use of water systems. Then there are values expressed through options to
use natural resources (option values) in the future. These option values are expressions
of preferences (willingness to pay). The same distinction (Turner et al. 2001) can be
made for the valuation of other natural systems from which resources are tapped or
the infrastructures that are used (for example energy systems or transportation
systems). Non-use values are associated with the benefits derived by scientific
knowledge that a water systems or other natural resources remains in tact for ecological
reasons and hence the living conditions for the current and future generations. In this
respect environmental economists speak of existence values, bequest values and
philanthropic values. For some of these values there are markets that reflect this value
to a certain extent in market values. For other values no service or product is available
that embeds the value and hence is traded on a market. In this, the common distinction
between market and non-market goods is relevant. When there is a market, the prices
are the outcome that can be integrated into an SCBA. Sometimes the market price
must be derived from other values, as the value of the use of a water system is partly
hidden amongst other values that are part of a market value. Solving this problem can
be approached by using hedonic price method. This is a common technique with
respect to those environmental values reflected in a house price. Such a market value
is affected by many factors such as the location, functional attributes of a house and
connection to infrastructures. Examples are the availability of electricity,
telecommunications, sanitation, drinking water and transportation infrastructures
offered to a house owner.
Techniques such as the Contingent Valuation Method (CVM) reveal the value of
non-market goods or services, or those additions of attributes to products that natural
systems or man-made infrastructures provide to regional plans. By using CVM the
need for having a market is obsolete; it is an expressed preference technique in which
households are interviewed. The households are asked to express their Willingness To
Pay (WTP) for a certain good or service or what they want to receive if they are loosing
an asset they were used to have the benefits from (Willingness To Accept, WTA). CVM
has the benefit of being straightforward but disadvantages from possible strategic
behaviour by the people who are interviewed, resulting in a biased outcome. Also,
information bias may exist as the interviewees may not be fully informed about the
use and non-use values involved. Some alternative techniques are referred to as
Contingent valuation ranking, Damage Costs Avoided, Defensive Expenditures/
Averting Expenditures, Replacement/Substitute Costs, and Restoration Costs, each
technique integrating some values to a greater or lesser extent (see Turner et al. 2001).
Direct use costs are the costs related to an explicit value dimension, for example the
The Concept of Covaluation
provision of drinking water. Indirect use values are those values that are not so easily
related to a certain aspect, good or service. This is often the case with ecological values.
There might be consensus on the importance of ecological benefit of a water system to
the overall ecological quality, but the explicit value of this aspect to man kind or
ecosystems is unclear. There is a high degree of uncertainty about these values and
hence they are called indirect values. Direct use values are fairly certain and may be
reflected on as scientific proven benefits.
Table 1. Overview of valuation methods applicable for different types of values (Turner et
al. 2001)
Valuation method
Direct use
Indirect use
Market analysis
Hedonic pricing
Travel cost method
Contingent valuation ranking
Damage costs avoided
Defensive expenditures
Substitute costs
Restoration costs
3.2. Integration of non-market values
In order to involve public (non-market) values in weighing and decision making,
several attempts on operationalisation have been undertaken. These can be roughly
divided in attempts to monetarize all effects and attempts to involve non-market
effects in other ways or unities.
Attempts to monetarize all effects on public goods are mainly based on the
argument that in order to involve these effects equally to non-market goods they must
be comparable, requiring their monetarization. While some state it is very well
possible to monetarize all of these effects, others are of the opinion that half-hearted
monetarization is better than no monetarization at all. In order to monetarize effects
on non-market goods additions to the OEI-guideline have been drawn, providing
methods to monetarize effects on nature, water and soil (Ruijgrok, Brouwer et al.,
2004), based on either WTP/WTA or measures of damage / costs.11 More recently this
This addition to the OEI-guideline was developed at the request of and in cooperation with the
Dutch Ministry of agriculture, nature and food quality (LNV). Also several other ministries
cooperated (housing, spatial planning and the environment (VROM); transport, public works and
water management (V&W); economic affairs (EZ); and Finance.
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Nienke van Schie and Jan Jaap Bouma
addition was supplemented by index numbers on the (monetary) value of nature,
water, soil, and landscape (Ruijgrok, 2007). Recently some other approaches have been
presented, e.g. Bade et al. (2006), based on (related) existing cash flows, and Dammers
et al. (2005), proposing to involve monetarized experience values of effects on nature,
water and soil.
Concerning interactive approaches, internationally deliberative monetary
valuation has been applied (mainly in the USA, the UK and Australia), informally
introducing deliberative tools in economic valuation studies and CBA (Niemeyer and
Spash, 2001; Spash, 2001, 2007), for example the application of interviews to set up a
CV-questionnaire (Jacobs, 1997), or the combination of citizens’ juries and economic
WTP-measures (Keynon, Hanley et al., 2001). Another example is the work of Messner
et al. (2006), who propose a combination of MCA, CBA and participation to support
large-scale public decisions in the context of German water management. Niemeyer
and Spash (2001) however conclude that the exact role of these tools within economic
valuation is still unclear. Generally the deliberation is perceived as supplementing the
monetary valuation only (O’Connor, 2000; Soderholm, 2001). In the Netherlands
recently attempts have been made to address SCBA interactively, by collaboratively
estimating the costs and benefits to be involved in the analysis (Gaaff, 2003; Gaaff,
Strookman et al., 2003; Reinhard, Polman et al., 2007). However, it is the additions by
Ruigrok et al. (2004, 2007) discussed earlier that are commonly accepted and applied
in exercising SCBAs in Dutch decision making.
Attempts to involve effects on non-market goods in ways other than monetarization
are mainly based on the argument that non-market values should not be transferred
to monetary standards as this would not reflect their true value, diminishing or
overestimating their importance for decision making. Several methods have been
applied to measure and compare effects without the use of a monetary scale, multicriteria analysis (MCA) being the most well-known, in which different weights can be
attached to effects in order to develop an ordinal hierarchy of alternatives based on
their relative effects. Another example is the Scorecard method, which provides a
non-ordered overview of all different effects of alternatives in their respective unities
(Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat, 2003). The identification or measurement of
local values is diverse and various terms are used. ‘Societal’ value is often interpreted
as experiential value, as opposed to ecological or financial value. ‘Public’ value
generally describes the average value attributed by ‘the public’, measured by e.g. a
CV-questionnaire. A substantial amount of literature focused on the issue and
measurement of societal, experiential, and public value, ‘visions’ or values of nature,
focussing on descriptions (preferences) and mere normative issues (ethical concerns)
(e.g. van den Bergh (1999; van den Berg and Koole, 2006). In this article the term
‘local’ values is used, referring to the values perceived and expressed by local actors
and parties involved in a decision making process. This opposes to e.g. intrinsic values
present independent of a valuating individual, or ‘public’ values aggregated by an
The Concept of Covaluation
objective party. Recently some more methods for non-monetary valuation have been
presented, for example Witte and Meuleman’s (2006) biodiversity scale, estimating
the value of natural sites by a system of biodiversity-points.
Concerning interactive approaches to valuation, in the context of urban planning
Ziller and Phibbs presented an approach to complement a CBA with difficult to
quantify costs and benefits, incorporating “stakeholder views as well as research
findings” (Ziller and Phibbs, 2003: 141), p. 141).
3.3. Problems concerning the involvement of local
(public) values
Attempts to measure and involve effects on public goods in non-monetary terms are
highly discussed and no agreement exists on the application of any of the methods
proposed. Conversely, attempts to monetarize all effects gain more support as such
methods have been applied for a longer period of time and connect to traditional
(technocratic) approaches of decision making. Moreover, monetarized effects can be
incorporated more easily in SCBAs. Hence it is especially such monetarization methods
that are applied. Increasingly index numbers for non-market goods and effects on
spatial organization are developed and are involved in the decision making.
However, concerning the involvement of values as attributed by citizens, here
some problems arise. Methods for monetarisation are founded on traditional views
on decision making and water management, i.e. technocratic and expert based. It is
assumed the value of (effects on) non-market goods can be measured by methods
based on value commensurability and welfare maximization. Hence in order to
valuate, public goods are considered as private goods and valuating individuals are
assumed to behave as consumers (and not as citizens) (Sagoff 1988; Jacobs, 1997). The
perspective of experts is used to indicate effects and their relative importance. The
public support for such values however has oftentimes been questioned (Jacobs, 1997;
Niemeyer and Spash, 2001), just as the justifiability of treating public goods as if they
were private ones.
For example, the method of SCBA is founded on traditional, neoclassical
conceptions of (water) policy and decision making, not fitting with current trends in
interactive governance and regional planning. Not only focuses SCBA on monetary
values, singular values can be involved only, neglecting different (or controversial)
perspectives. Moreover, in case an interactive process was executed, such valuation
does no justice to the insights gained during this process, in which the diverse values
and perspectives of local actors are used to develop alternatives. Following notions of
participation and joint fact finding, in an interactive process local actors,
(governmental) parties and experts define in cooperation what useful ‘knowledge’ is
with respect to the issue of consideration (Jasanoff, 1990). As local perspectives
(values) enfold not only financial values but also many other values and perspectives
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Nienke van Schie and Jan Jaap Bouma
(Bouma, 2006), stemming from different frames of reference, this implies the
involvement of various kinds of values. Such public values may not be easily estimated,
as different perceptions may exist on values that are not fixed in an undebatable
context of market prices. As discussed before, market prices reflect the value of private
goods, whereas environmental goods/services also involve public goods which are not
reflected on the market. Lacking a fixed frame, these values remain subjective and at
best ordinal judgments and cannot be involved in a cardinal and monetary weighing.
The way non-market effects are to be involved in the analysis is not prescribed resulting
in a wide variety of effects and their involvement; in political decision making they
often remain underexposed (Dammers, Hornis et al., 2005). Hence in an SCBA only
(monetarized) values from a single perspective can be involved; i.e. expert values and
perspectives dominate the weighing process. Even though these may be (and often
are) based on societal values measured by e.g. CVM, this does not take into account
values that are not expressed in monetary terms, leaving local citizen perspectives as
these were developed and formulated in the interactive process out of consideration.
Even though values of public (non-market) goods may have been involved in some
way or another, from the perspective of citizens involved in the process the stages of
valuation and weighing remain a black box in the decision making process,
consequently stressing the public support the interactive process intended. No
guideline exists on the connection between interactive decision making and SCBA,
nor on the involvement of SCBA in an interactive decision making process.
In order to value public (non-monetary) values, a neoclassical approach may not
be suitable (Jacobs, 1997; Bouma, Francois et al., 2008). For such valuation the notion
of value must be perceived in a broader perspective than possible in a neoclassical
view on valuation. Another branch of economics focusing on a broader context,
institutional economics, provides such broadening. Institutional economics enables
to perceive valuation as a process in which values are formulated, developed and
3.4.Towards interactive valuation
In order to execute a decision making process truly interactive and allowing for the
involvement of local (citizen) values (aiming at public support for a decision), it should
not be ended with a closed and technocratically oriented weighing. Instead, the
weighing should be an element of the interactive process, involving different
perspectives on measures and their effects as these were discussed in interaction with
local actors and parties involved. Hence in case an SCBA is applied, this should be
embedded in the interactive process. The RMNO12, advising the Dutch government
RMNO: ‘Advisory council for research on spatial planning, nature and the environment’; advises
the Dutch government on research on problems related to environmental issues, spatial planning
and nature conservation.
The Concept of Covaluation
on issues of spatial planning, nature conservation and the environment, recently
stated that combining SCBA and deliberation may have great potential in environmental
policy making (RMNO, 2008). Consequently, research on their combination and rules
and guidelines on application are needed. The first Dutch example of such approach
(referred to by the RMNO), ‘interactive approach of SCBA’ (Reinhard 2007; mentioned
above) estimates costs and benefits in interaction with experts representing stake
holding (organized and generally governmental) parties. As such approach and
involvement may be very useful in certain (regional) situations, the perspectives of
citizens and local actors/stakeholders on the effects of measures (on non-market
goods) are still left out of consideration. Hence the involvement of local perspectives
in the valuation and weighing stages of decision making processes remains nondefined and not institutionalised in guidelines or rules. However, as the involvement
and proper weighing of such perspectives is essential in the collection (and maintaining)
of local support for interactively produced decisions, this asks for a proper
operationalisation of the subject. What values actually are we talking about when we
mean societal values, or local perspectives? How can these values or perspectives be
involved in the process of decision making and what institutions are needed for this?
What is the relation between these local values and existing procedures of
monetarization and the application of SCBA? We conducted a case study in order to
experiment with the notions of local values and their involvement in interactive
decision making. In the following this case study is presented.
In order to describe relevant features of the process of valuing public as well as
private elements of spatial organization and to analyze its relation to a general SCBAprocess, the following characteristics of the process are discussed; involvement in the
process, focus of the process and outcomes, contents of the process (stages, position,
etc), the notion of actor values applied and the connection to existing institutions (see
Table 2).
Table 2. Some characteristics of the valuation process
Who are involved, how many are involved, what (whose)
knowledge is used?
What kind of decision-making problem is applicable, what
aims the process at, what orientation is applied, what is the
intended end result?
What stages consists the process of, what position within a
decision-making process is taken, what techniques are
Notion of actor / stakeholder values
What rationality is applied, whose preferences are measured?
Connection to existing customs,
procedures and influences
What are the rules of the game, formal as well as informal?
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By use of these characteristics the case study is described in section 4. Section 5 applies
these characteristics to evaluate and analyze some experiences in the case study.
Case study: ‘Around Arnemuiden’
In order to experiment with the involvement of local values in an interactive decision
making process on water, a case study was conducted, called ‘Around Arnemuiden’.13
This case study was set up as a practical experiment in which participatory action
research took place. Hence the researchers participated in the process and were partly
subject of their own research. During the project the interactive process and the
weighing of effects were studied, and criteria for the involvement of local values in
weighing and decision making were searched. Based on the empirical observations in
section 5 an approach of ‘covaluation’ is proposed, aiming at the institutionalisation
of interactive valuation and weighing of arguments and alternatives embedded in an
interactive decision making process. This section describes the case study in short,
focussing on the actions undertaken in order to involve local values in the process.14
4.1.Aim and background of the project
The project aimed at the formulation of a recommendation for redevelopment of a
rural area in the Southwest of the Netherlands: a polder area north of the city of
Middelburg. Starting at the beginning of 2006, this recommendation was developed
in a participatory process, involving not only relevant organized (governmental)
parties and organisations, but also local actors, NGOs and local parties bearing a
stake in the issue.
Redevelopment of the area has a turbulent history of plans proposed by
governmental parties, generally aiming at a revival of recreational functions and the
development of housing in the area. However none of these plans has been implemented
so far, partly due to obstructions of local actors preferring to maintain the area in its
current rural state. The issue had become highly controversial and ended up in a
situation of deadlock. In order to mediate between the opposing perspectives and
develop a plan supported by the obstructing local actors, an interactive process was
The execution of the case study and related research is funded by ‘leven met water’, a Dutch
knowledge impulse programme aiming at the study and implementation of changes in water
management. The case study was executed by a consortium of the Erasmus University Rotterdam,
TNO, Tauw, Municipality of Middelburg, province of Zeeland, National government on water and
road infrastructure (RWS), an association of the national dept. of agriculture (DLG), and the Water
A more elaborate description of the interactive process and the findings can be found in Edelenbos,
van Schie et al. 2008, or (Duijn, StArmour et al., 2008).
The Concept of Covaluation
set up, aiming at a joint vision on the area.15 The process strongly focused on local
perspectives on the area under consideration, taking the values of local actors and
parties as a starting point for scenario development. In this, all individuals and parties
that felt interested were able to participate in the process. Ultimate goal of the
interactive process was the formulation of a recommendation for redevelopment of
the area, supported by the participants, which was presented to the City Council of
Middelburg at the end of 2007. As the recommendation was non-binding, currently
(October 2008) the inhabitants are waiting for the City Council’s decision on the
future of the area.
4.2.Organization of the process
Local actors and stakeholders took a central position in the process, bearing the
responsibility to develop scenarios for redevelopment of the area. Involved were all
farmers and land owners in the project area, interested inhabitants and local businesses
of the area and the neighboring village of Arnemuiden, and representative organizations
like the district community group, the local fishermen’s organization, and the
historical fisheries association. In total, a group of generally 35 people attended the
meetings and workshops.
This group was supported by a group of experts, who repeatedly discussed the
scenarios, aiming to improve their feasibility. In this, experts on issues of e.g. water
management, infrastructure, housing and farming were involved, representing several
organizations and governmental departments relevant to the project area.
Approximately 15 experts attended this group, who met 5 times. Notably, the experts
in this group were positioned in a supportive – and not initiating – role rather
uncommon to them.
Several other groups of parties and individuals involved focused on the political
and executive embedding of the process and its outcomes (Edelenbos, van Schie et al.,
2008a). Amongst others the provincial deputy and the responsible Alderman were
involved in this. Finally, people interested but not willing (or able) to actively participate
could attend the meetings and workshops in a ‘stance’, enabling them to listen to
discussions and be informed on the process. For example, five Councilors of the City
Council of Middelburg regularly attended the workshops, in order to prepare their
future decision making on the outcomes.
The process was managed by a team of Erasmus University Rotterdam, TNO, and Tauw
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Nienke van Schie and Jan Jaap Bouma
In a series of workshops the group of local actors and stakeholders developed scenarios
for reorganizing the project area. During this process, the perceptions and values of
participants were inventoried and checked several times, and were involved in scenario
development. In this the process focused on the perceptions on water in the spatial
organization of the area, aiming at a future spatial expression of this value.
First, 60 interviews were conducted in order to reveal the perceptions and values
of the individuals and parties involved and their willingness to participate in the
process. Based on this information a shared plan for the process was set up, functioning
as a start for scenario development, and presenting the restrictions for development
set by the participants and existing policy documents. The values revealed in the
interviews were confirmed in a later questionnaire, set out during the first workshop
(see below).
In a cycle of several workshops, the group of actors developed ‘dream’ scenarios,
expressing the ideal futures for the area unrestricted by rules or policy constraints.
The values expressed in these scenarios were inventoried following a list of ‘aspects’,
aiming at the identification of the value-background. For example, ethical value,
moral value, financial value and biological value were identified. This ‘explicated’ the
different values expressed in different spatial elements in the scenarios. The spatial
elements of the ‘dream’ scenarios were ranked by the participants. From the highly
valued spatial elements two new scenarios were formulated, expressing a more
intensive and a more extensive development of the area respectively. Meanwhile,
comments and suggestions of the group of experts were discussed and the scenarios
adjusted accordingly. During this process, the perspectives and values expressed were
added to the list of ‘aspects’, explicating different notions of the values attributed.
Both final scenarios were presented with arguments and values important to the
participants. Finally, an ex post evaluation tested the support for the final scenarios,
revealing the participants’ satisfaction and recognition of their values and perceptions
on the issue.
Valuing and weighing
In order to connect to the (locally and nationally) existing procedures of weighing in
decision making, in the project a connection with an SCBA was searched. An indexSCBA was drawn, expressing index numbers on the main costs of the alternatives as
far as possible. This was combined with the local values and perspectives (expressed
in ‘aspects’) underlying the scenarios, resulting in a table presenting the effects of
alternatives from multiple perspectives. Hence in this ‘costs’ (cons) and ‘benefits’
(pros) of the scenarios were interpreted broadly, mixing quantitative, monetary and
qualitative information.
The Concept of Covaluation
Ex post evaluation revealed that the participants appreciated their perspectives to
be actively involved during an early stage of development. They preferred not to
involve monetary estimates in the weighing at all, as they feared decision making
would focus on costs only, neglecting different points of view and their efforts in
scenario development. Among the experts involved however the relevance of nonexpert inputs was questioned (van Schie, Rijnveld et al., 2007). Also, a common
concept of the method of SCBA was lacking. For example, some expected the process
managers to find subsidies for financing the plans, while others focused on the
realization of revenues from the selling of houses. Also inclarity existed on what
information should be provided to decision makers. The experts were used (and in
their institutional context generally expected to) financially based decision making
only. They perceived decision making to be made on financial numbers only; effects
that can not be monetarized should not be involved in this. It was recognized such an
overview would not cover all relevant aspects of an issue to be decided upon, revealing
inconsistency in this approach. Still, it was refused to take responsibility and act
different from the common way of doing by providing the decision makers with a
broader view on the issue under consideration. Based on the scenario development by
the local actors these broader perspectives were introduced next to financial issues,
however, no consensus was achieved among the experts involved about this subject.
As the City Council has not yet decided on the issue (dated October 2008), it is still
unclear whether local values played a role in the eventual decision making. Due to the
presence of some Councilors at the workshops the City Council clearly is aware of
these local perspectives and now will have to decide how to respond to these. The
current developments however do not show political concern for these values and
strongly focus on financial constraints, possibly reflecting path dependency and
lock-in in the existing systems.
4.3.Describing the process of valuation
In 4.2 some characteristics of the process executed in the case Around Arnemuiden
are described. Table 3 summarizes the main points.
During the case study an approach was searched in order to express and involve
locally perceived values in a decision making process on a regional planning project.
In this the aim was to develop a plan that expressed locally held values, assuming such
plan would generate support by the local public. During the project, ‘valuation’ has
been interpreted as a process, which outcome is strongly influenced by decisions on
the types of values to be involved and the perspectives on the issue at hand (cf. Bouma
et al. 2008), and hence the methods chosen for valuation (cf. Schuijt 2003).
Table 4 provides a descriptive overview of the activities executed in the case study
in order to involve local values in the process. This process consisted of several –
rather ordered – stages, however no strict format can be provided. Stages evolved as
the process managers saw fit, the execution of stages overlapped, and during the
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Nienke van Schie and Jan Jaap Bouma
process the set up was actively adjusted and developed in reaction to developments
and actions of the parties involved. Hence, the number and content of steps depended
on the context and specific project characteristics.
Table 3. Characteristics of the valuation process described
30–50 local actors, representatives of stake holding parties and
organisations; involvement of their values and perspectives,
and consequently their knowledge on the issue
A controversial decision-making issue in which opposing
stakes and aims interfere. The goal is to achieve consensus and
a supported plan by focusing on the involvement of locally
supported values
The process consisted of several rather ordered but not fixed
stages, actively adjusted during the process in reaction to the
context. Techniques applied are interviewing, scenario
building, visualizing, reasoning, reframing and economic
valuation by use of index nrs.
Notion of actor / stakeholder values
Focus on the rationality and preferences of the local actor/
stakeholder, explicated by use of different ‘aspects’
Connection to existing customs,
procedures and influences
Informally and formally strong tendency of governmental
parties to apply SCBA and financial valuation
Table 4. The ‘process of covaluation’16
Role of values
Broad inventory of values and
perceptions (dreams and
threats) among actors and stake
holding parties concerned, and
reasons behind these.
Inventory of willingness to
participate, possible conflicts
(contrasting perspectives),
–Policy analysis
Inventarisation of formal and
informal (sub) values and
perspectives on the decision
making issue.
Development of shared process
plan (shared problem formulation, goals, preconditions and
restrictions, process).
Embedding on political,
executive, professional (expert),
policy, and societal level.
–Policy analysis
–Involvement of relevant
positions and powers
Establishment of formal and
informal preconditions (based
on values).
Embedding of perceptions from
different points of view in the
A more elaborate description of these steps can be found at
waardering/waardering-in-coproductie/ (in Dutch).
The Concept of Covaluation
Discussion and specification of
important values:
Development of preliminary
ideal scenarios, irrelevant of
Searching for overlapping
values and interests.
–Workshop participants
scenario development,
and storyline
–Active discussions,
divergation of values
Expression of different values
and spatial consequences.
Divergation of values /
Expression of (sub) values and
–Workshop participants
–Active discussions and
–Map drawing
–Scenario development
–Experts answer
Relating values to spatial
Visualisation of values and
discussion of consequences.
Specification of values.
Specification of values and
Reality check with experts.
–Workshop participants
–Scenario development
–Workshop experts
Specification of different values
and their (spatial) consequences.
Search for reframing and
Identification of spatial
Valuation of elements; selection
of most highly and broadly
valued elements.
–Workshop participants
–Valuation by use of
Identification of most
important values and most
broadly valued elements of
Development of argumentation
for spatial reorganisation based
on values.
Verification of identified values.
Development of new scenarios;
converging values.
Reframing and reality check by
–Workshop participants
–Map drawing
–Description of spatial
functions with map and
argumentation based on
Discussion of consequences of
values expressed.
Confrontation with initial
preconditions; reframing and
consensus seeking.
Convergation of values /
Experts feasibility check.
–Workshop experts
–SCBA (or other
economic valuation
Involvement of expert
perspectives and values.
Connection to formal
–Measurement of index
numbers by spatial
Involvement of values required
by formal procedures, from the
perspective of the payer.
Establishment of values from
all perspectives; expected
financial and non-financial
effects. (Explication of different
perspectives on the decision
making issue)
–Combining all values
expressed in one table,
in their respective
unities (monetary,
quantitative, qualitative)
Valuation of alternatives from
all perspectives/points of view
Perspectives in decision
making issue as input for
weighing and decision making.
Ex post evaluation
Involvement of values in
weighing and decision making.
–Questionnaire to all
individuals involved
Evaluation on appreciation of
values involved and
representation in end results.
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Nienke van Schie and Jan Jaap Bouma
5.Evaluation and analysis of the concept of
This section evaluates and analyzes the process carried out in the case study Around
Arnemuiden, described in section 4. The case study Around Arnemuiden was
conducted in order to experiment with the combination of deliberation and weighing
in the context of decision making on regional water. What happened in the attempt to
involve multiple perspectives in the process? What hindered and what stimulated
this? What should be done and by whom in order to effectively involve different
perspectives in the decision making? Based on experiences in the case study this
section proposes some first steps towards the operationalisation of local valuation.
First the methodology applied in the case study is discussed, as this will have influenced
the outcomes and perceptions of the researchers. After that the notion of ‘local value’
is explained and the involvement of these values in decision making is discussed,
proposing an approach of ‘covaluation’. An institutional perspective is applied,
focusing on different institutions influencing the processes of valuation and decision
The case study was executed as a practical experiment, in which observation-byparticipation took place. During the experiment, simultaneous development and
execution of an approach to involve local values in a planning- and decision making
process took place. As it concerned the development of a new and experimental
approach a case study was conducted, as case study research – being predominantly
inductive – suits the study of situations in their natural context (Eisenhardt, 1989;
Yin, 1993). This particularly applies when a phenomenon is influenced by multiple
factors, as is the case with the (individual) valuation of water in spatial planning.
An approach based on grounded theory, a well known approach to case study
research, enabled the researchers to continually compare data and theory, switching
between inductive and mere deductive approaches (following (Eisenhardt, 1989). This
has the advantage of learning-by-doing, and provided the ability to actively adjust the
method to be developed to the existing situation.
As a result of this methodology the researchers – participating in the process –
were partly subject of their own research, raising the issue of double hermeneutics.
The fulfillment of different roles inevitably leads to mutual influences and, as with
most qualitative research; a subjective perspective cannot be strictly avoided. This
however was restricted as much as possible by acting only facilitative during the
process, and by verification of reports and outcomes of analysis by participants on a
regular basis.
The Concept of Covaluation
5.2. ‘Explicating’ local values
In the case study ‘local value’ is interpreted as ‘the importance some issue or good has
for some individual’.17 Thus a value can be positive as well as negative, can be a cost as
well as a benefit, and may concern market- (private) as well as non-market (public)
goods, tangible as well as intangible goods. As explained in section 2, water serves
multiple functions and uses in society, resulting in multiple values attached, in
different contexts. Also values can be attached that are not directly derived from use.
Following from multiple uses, one individual can attach multiple values, which may
even interfere. Some of these values can be expressed in monetary terms, while other
values require different terminology. Still, all these values derived from the water
system should be taken into account in decision making concerning water in regional
planning. Therefore, in this research, ‘value’ is interpreted as being a configuration of
several sub-values, called (value-) aspects, that together comprise the importance the
good or issue under consideration has for some valuator(s). It is during the process
that the contents of this configuration are formed and explicated. Figure 2 illustrates
different societal values that may be derived (from value chains) of water.
Figure 2. Illustration of some societal values derived from water in society18
Other interpretations of ‘value’ are, amongst others, norms, rules of behavior, life-style, and price.
Again, this figure is not meant to provide a full overview on societal uses and values distracted from
the physical water system; it merely schematizes the relationships between these themes.
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Nienke van Schie and Jan Jaap Bouma
Consequently, local values may not be (objectively) revealed or measured in monetary
terms only; it is no fixed notion (like an index number; see also O’Neill et al. 2008). As
we focus on the involvement of local values in a process of decision making, ‘value’ can
not be a priori defined or specified on its contents, as it is the value(s) attributed by
local actors that are of concern. Hence it is about the aspects of value that are brought
up – and developed – by participants during the process and about creating consensus
on the values that are to be involved.
Citizens generally are not used to thinking in financial terms on effects they can
not buy on the market. Also, research has shown that monetarized values revealed by
economic valuation techniques like contingent valuation often are not recognized by
the local public (see e.g. Jacobs 1997). Therefore, values expressed are involved in the
unities expressed by actors, which may be diverse, either monetary or not and often
qualitative descriptions.19
5.3.An institutional perspective
Decisions on spatial organisation, be it infrastructures or water management, do not
take place in isolation; they are embedded in a broader context that influences the
decisions and valuations that are made by various ‘rules of the game’. These rules and
restrictions structure and restrict behaviour on several levels, ranging from formally
established laws to informal agreements and non-communicated conventions (North,
1992, 1994). This perspective focuses not on (traditional) regulating institutions only,
but also cognitive and normative (informal) influences are included in the analysis.
Man is no longer considered as behaving rational in decision making, but as led by
mental models like ideas and ideologies which are used to interpret the world (Denzau
and North, 1994). Consequently, the rationality and perspective a certain actor/
stakeholder applies is context dependent, resulting in the attribution of various aspects
of value. Taking such institutional perspective on the decision making process on
water, various ‘rules of the game’ can be identified that influence and steer the process
of valuation and decision making. This dynamic field of rules can be categorized by
use of 4 levels identified by Williamson (1998):
– The level of societal embeddedness, representing informal institutions that influence
behaviour (e.g. customs, traditions, norms, values, worldview). Rules of behaviour
and issues of power and status influence the perspective on issues and hence the
valuation and decision making process. No institutionalisation of involving these
perspectives / values in the process has taken place yet. It is these diverse
Thus, ‘explicating’ as used in the header of this paragraph does not refer to economic notions of
explicit valuation, striving at the numerical expression of some value or measure. Instead,
‘explication’ is interpreted as eliciting, clarifying or explaining the nature of the value under
The Concept of Covaluation
(perceptions on and) aspects of value, and their possible institutionalisation in
decision making processes the research presented in this article focuses on.
– The level of the institutional environment; the formal rules of the game for economic
activity (e.g. legal rules, polity, judiciary, laws). Concerning the valuation of
regional water, several institutions are present. Concerning the decision making
process several rules and restrictions are posed on the involvement of stakeholding
parties and locally involved actors. Within spatial policy the application of SCBA
for the weighing of alternatives is prescribed.
– The level of governance structures; organizations and contracts that coordinate
economic transactions (e.g. markets, hybrids, firms, bureaus).
– The level of resource allocation and employment; the level of markets and prices as
presented in neoclassical economics (e.g. prices, output, efficiency).
5.4. Involvement in decision making: covaluation of
(Formal) Institutions differ in the informal influences they take into account. As
discussed before, an SCBA provides no room for the involvement of (informal) issues
of local power and status, nor for the involvement of individual perceptions in
weighing and decision making. In order to provide room for these perceptions in the
process, and involve different perspectives on the value of goods (i.e. different valueaspects), based on the experiences in the case study an approach of covaluation is
proposed. In the project Around Arnemuiden, ‘covaluation’ is understood as:
‘The early and continual involvement of interested parties and individuals in the
valuation and weighing of subjects (in the context of an interactive decision
making process), in which values attributed by parties and individuals involved
are inventoried and arranged in their respective unities and are involved in the
formal weighing and decision making procedures, aiming at consensus on the
values that are to be involved.’
Covaluation is not a technical instrumental process. It is an approach or method for
the issue of valuation within a decision making process, that makes use of several
methods and techniques to measure values. Controversies and possible agreements
concerning the value(s) of goods are investigated in an open and equitable discussion.
Valuation is perceived as more than financially and materially oriented; ‘values’ are
interpreted broadly, as costs and benefits, positive as well as negative effects of
measures. Not only a priori fixed and explicit costs and benefits are involved, but
different (implicit) judgments of values and effects on public as well as private goods
(as expressed by local actors) are taken into account. These different perspectives are
to be ‘explicated’ and negotiated during an interactive process of development of
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Nienke van Schie and Jan Jaap Bouma
Table 5. Characteristics of covaluation and SCBA compared
Kind of people involved
Local actors,
Representatives (a.o.
experts) of stakeholding
parties and organisations
Experts (of stakeholding
parties and organisa­
Number of people
A few
Input in process (whose
knowledge/ perceptions
are involved)
Local values and
knowledge of both local
actors and experts,
including possibly
monetary values
Monetary values
measured by experts
Involvement of
National (and
increasingly regional)
(No involvement of
individual by definition)
(reasons considered
Point of departure
Aim, intended end
Identifying and
achieving consensus on
Supported plan
Revealing fixed values
Most welfare-economically efficient plan
Sort of (decisionmaking) problem
Many conflicting
No fixed alternatives
Agreement over values
Restricted number of
Not fixed
Fixed and prescribed
Position within
Facilitating the process
Facilitating the
Techniques applied
Context dependent,
–Scenario building
–Reasoning &
–Econ. valuation
Solely monetary
valuation by e.g.
Contingent Valuation,
Hedonic Pricing, Travel
Cost Method, etc.
Transparency /
The Concept of Covaluation
Notion of actor /
stakeholder values
Rationality of citizen:
variable and context
Rationality of
consumer: fixed
(instrumental and
Preferences / values
Value pluralism /
multiplism; subvalues
Preferences/values are
constructed and
Value incommen­
Value monism
Preferences/values are
given and fixed
Value commen­
Focus of value
Effects on spatial
Financial costs and
Interpretation of ‘value’
The importance of some
thing or effect (either
positive or negative)
Financial benefit (only
positive effects)
Interactive governance,
WFD; active participa­
tion of societal parties
OEI-guideline; apply
welfare perspective and
Connection to
existing institutions
(rules of the game,
procedures, customs,
powers, influences)
alternatives. It aims at the achievement and sustaining of local support for public
decisions (concerning water in spatial organisation), by involving local values and
perspectives up to the weighing and decision making stages.
In order to carry over these values into the weighing and eventual decision making,
the process of covaluation must be embedded in the existing institutional context; the
formal as well as informal decision making procedures, in which the four levels
identified by Williamson (1998) must be taken into account. Concerning the level of
the institutional environment, important rule of the game is the application of SCBA
for the weighing of alternatives. Several characteristics distinguish covaluation from
the concept of an SCBA. Table 5 shows the main differences, using the characteristics
of the process in Arnemuiden presented earlier. Concerning the involvement of values
in the weighing, important distinction with common economic valuation is the
individual point of departure, focusing at the values attributed by individual actors
(citizens) in the process, contrary to a higher social aim of (e.g.) welfare, focusing on
consumers (cf. (Sagoff, 1988). Values are perceived as constructed in a consensus
seeking approach, in contrast to the neoclassical assumption of values as fixed entities
that can be ‘revealed’. In this, the concept of value pluralism is applied, stating all
values are essentially equal and valuable to the process and its outcomes. This opposes
to value monism and welfarism assuming only one thing to be ultimately valuable in
itself (which in case of welfarism is the welfare of individuals). Related to that is the
notion of value incommensurability, stating there is no single measure of value through
Competition and Regulation in Network Industries, Volume 9 (2008), No. 4
Nienke van Schie and Jan Jaap Bouma
which policy choices can be compared and a choice to be made. Not all values are
indifferent; hence not a single measure (for weighing) is possible (see O’Neill et
al. 2008).
Important difference with the process of SCBA is the role of values and valuation
during the process. Identification of project effects and their measurement and
valuation contains step 6 in an SCBA process, which is to be executed only after the
alternatives have been identified (Eijgenraam et al. 2000). Covaluation requires a
change of focus; first the values are identified and based on those, alternatives are
developed (cf. (Keeney, 1992). In this way values involved are not restricted to the
financial benefits of alternatives, but are broadened to all effects expected, perceived
from different perspectives. The estimation of societal effects thus steers the
development of alternatives from the very start.
Within this process, if wanted or required an SCBA or other economic valuation
method can be applied in order to measure monetary values involved. Nevertheless,
this valuation then is an element of the whole process of valuation and does not
conclude the (interactive) decision making process.
Conclusion: institutionalizing local
The further institutionalisation of the integration of local values into interactive
decision making is needed. This requires an operationalisation of the concept of local
values, and rules and guidelines on their integration into the decision making process
and existing procedures of valuation and weighing. A case study was conducted to
experiment with the combination of deliberation and weighing in local/regional
spatial development concerning watersystems and related infrastructures. Based on
the case study and related research, some first steps towards operationalisation of the
involvement of local values in decision making are proposed.
In order to operationalise local values, the notion of a ‘value configuration’ is
proposed, perceiving the value of water as a plural concept consisting of various valueaspects. The nature of these aspects depends on the context in which a valuator
perceives some good. Hence ‘the’ value of water does not exist; local values are context
dependent and must be listed during the process. In order to involve these values in
the decision making process, an approach of covaluation is proposed, characterized
by value pluralism, value incommensurability, values of locally involved citizens and
constructed values in a consensus seeking approach. The aim of covaluation is to
achieve consensus among participants about values to be involved in decision making
concerning (local) spatial organisation, in order to achieve and sustain local support
for a decision. In this, it is tried to ‘explicate’ the values perceived by local actors and
parties, and involving these values in the weighing and decision making process.
The Concept of Covaluation
Hence, room is provided for individual values and perceptions, which are not involved
in an SCBA by definition.
As the case study showed, it merely is the process that matters to generate support,
and not necessarily the contents of the eventual decision; actors prefer to be properly
involved above recognising their stakes in the decision (Schie van, Rijnveld et al.,
2007). Hence during the process of scenario development and evaluation considerable
space must be created for diversity in values and institutional designing may take
place to assure the integration of values that are not embedded in a formal valuation
method such as the (S)CBA. However, the case study also showed that a traditionally
technocratic and expert-driven perspective still dominates in the evaluation of
alternatives. A diversity in values to be involved in decision making was not accepted
by the experts involved, who were used to focus on financial effects as applied in an (S)
CBA only. Especially the local government was reluctant to perceive possible
redevelopments in a broader perspective, focusing on individual financial benefits
from their point of view. As a result, main obstacle for a supported plan were not the
(obstructing) perspectives of citizens, but the current institutions and ways-ofoperating in organisations (Edelenbos, van Schie et al., 2008b). Overcoming these
obstacles, the involvement of local perspectives must be embedded in these institutions,
requiring a proper operationalisation and institutionalisation for which in this article
some first steps have been proposed. Further research is needed to define institutions
and institutional arrangements to stimulate such approach. The article shows that
such institutionalisation clearly is needed in order to prevent loss of support (on both
the local and the governmental level), and of investments in interactive decision
making processes relevant to planning infrastructures in the context of regional
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