‘It’s not like any survey I’ve ever seen before’: Discrete Choice Experiments as a Valuation Technology

  • Vicki Macknight Centre for Science Communication, University of Otago, New Zealand
  • Fabien Medvecky Centre for Science Communication, University of Otago, New Zealand
Keywords: discrete choice experiment, Otago Peninsula, biodiversity management, environmental valuation, making economics public


This paper unpacks what happened when members of the local community were invited to design and test a valuation tool – specifically a discrete choice experiment  – to find a valuation for New Zealand’s Otago Peninsula. We argue that the assumptions that lie within a discrete choice experiment are revealed when we look closely at how community participants react to the discrete choice experiment survey they have helped design. These assumptions, usually unnoticed, include the necessity of making trade-offs; what actions are possible; the ‘reality’ of one’s preference structures; the need for abstraction; and the importance of big picture patterns. We also argue that how these assumptions are negotiated in practice depends on complex power relationships between researchers, participants, and the technology itself. While we might seek to ‘empower’ the community with knowledge of economic processes and valuation practices, this might not be the empowerment they seek. Participants find ways to be active negotiators in the face of valuation technologies.

How to Cite
Macknight, Vicki, and Fabien Medvecky. 2021. “‘It’s Not Like Any Survey I’ve Ever Seen before’: Discrete Choice Experiments As a Valuation Technology”. Valuation Studies 8 (1), 7-31. https://doi.org/10.3384/VS.2001-5992.2021.8.1.7-31.