Review of critical factors for SEA implementation

Jie Zhang, Per Christensen, Lone Kørnøv

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The implementation process involved in translating Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) intention into action is vital to an effective SEA. Many factors influence implementation and thus the effectiveness of an SEA. Empirical studies have identified and documented some factors influencing the implementation of an SEA. This research is fragmented, however, and it is still not clear what are the most critical factors of effective SEA performance, and how these relate to different stages of the implementation process or other contextual circumstances.

The paper takes its point of departure in implementation theory. Firstly, we introduce implementation theory, and then use it in practice to establish a more comprehensive model related to the stages in the implementation process. Secondly, we identify the critical factors in order to see how they are related to the different stages of SEA or are more general in character. Finally we map the different critical factors and how they influence the overall results of an SEA.

Based on a literature review, we present a comprehensive picture of the critical factors and where they are found in the process. We conclude that most of the critical factors identified are of a more general character influencing the SEA process as such, while only one out of four of these factors relates to the specific stages of the SEA. Based on this mapping we can sketch a picture of the totality of critical factors. In this study 266 notions of critical factors were identified. Seen at the level of notions of critical factors, only 24% of these relate to specific stages while for 76% the critical factors are of a more general nature.

These critical factors interact in complex ways and appear in different combinations in different stages of the implementation process so tracing the cause and effect is difficult. The pervasiveness of contextual and general factors also clearly suggests that there is no single way to put SEA into practice. The paper identifies some of the critical factors for effective SEA implementation, but further research is still needed to conclude which factors are more critical than others, just as the contingencies on which they depend are not easy to unravel.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Volume38
Pages (from-to)88-98
ISSN0195-9255
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

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