Author Identifier

Megan Ann Jones

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only


Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Science

First Supervisor

Angus Morrison-Saunders

Second Supervisor

Michael Hughes

Third Supervisor

Jenny Pope


The direction environmental impact assessment (EIA) takes in the future will largely depend on those engaged in the process. However different stakeholders will have diverse expectations of EIA, which can lead to conflict throughout EIA processes. This thesis is focused on the exploration of the role of stakeholder expectations in EIA processes with the purpose to make an original contribution to knowledge on how the EIA process works in practice. This thesis argues that if stakeholder expectations are not well understood, then conflicts that arise as a result of the pluralist nature of EIA cannot begin to be resolved. There may be more to expectations than has previously been considered and understanding stakeholder expectations has the potential to assist in determining the best way forward for future EIA theory and practice. This thesis is theoretically underpinned by the constructivist research paradigm, building on existing literature as a way to provide new ways of examining the role, purpose and outcomes of EIA as it relates to stakeholder expectations. An investigation of the literature identified that the nature of expectations is personalised as they are based on a belief that something should happen in a particular way, or that someone or something should have particular qualities or behaviour. When placed in the context of EIA, an expectation is a belief that EIA should happen in a particular way, or have particular qualities. The comparable area of research known as the effectiveness literature was examined to identify the particular ways or particular qualities that an EIA process should have in order to be effective. It became clear from explorations of the EIA literature that empirical research on the topic of stakeholder expectations has been limited to date, therefore an overarching conceptual framework for exploring stakeholder expectations was developed to explore stakeholder expectations of EIA via four stakeholder expectations categories: Procedural, Substantive, Transactive and Legitimacy. The range of expectations of EIA was best conceptualised as occurring along a spectrum, where one end of the spectrum reflects how EIA works (Reality) while the other reflects what EIA seeks to achieve (Ideal). The overall aim of the research was to explore the role of stakeholder expectations in EIA processes guided by the two research questions: 1. What are stakeholder expectations of EIA? 2. How do differing stakeholder expectations affect how EIA is undertaken? Drawing on an inductive methodological approach, the phased data collection analysed stakeholder expectations at the three levels of EIA: Meta level (EIA as a concept) via a World Café workshop with members of the international EIA community, Macro level (EIA at a jurisdiction level – focusing on the Western Australian System) via document analysis and surveywith members of the WA EIA community and Mirco level (individual project level – Roe Highway Stage 8 Extension) via semi-structured interviews with individuals involved in the chosen case study.

The results demonstrate the application of the stakeholder expectations framework as a useful tool in which to identify differing stakeholder expectations of EIA. This thesis presents the first study to examine and understand expectations in the context of EIA. This thesis makes an original contribution to the field of EIA including a conceptual framework for exploring stakeholder expectations along with its subsequent application to EIA practice at different scales of application. By understanding stakeholder expectations an important contribution can be made to the continued success of EIA by capturing the diverse views of different stakeholder groups to gauge where improvements require consideration to ensure that they receive real public and political endorsement