After decades of development, the gap between expectations of Environment Impact Assessments (EIA) and their practical performance remains significant. Research has been done to identify the critical factors for an effective implementation of EIA. However, this research, to a large extent, has not been cumulated and analysed comprehensively according to the stages of the EIA process. This paper contributes to the critical review of the literature on EIA implementation and effectiveness by cumulating mainly empirical findings in an implementation theoretical perspective. It focuses on the links between different critical factors and how they relate to different stages in the EIA and thus influence the decision making process. After reviewing 33 refereed journal articles published between 1999 and 2011, we identified 203 notions of critical factors. Of these, 102 related to different stages defined in our comprehensive EIA implementation model, and 101 were identified as general factors related to the whole EIA system. The number of notions of stage factors and general factors is thus about equal. An overlap between stage factors and general factors was found, which demonstrates that critical factors function differently in different cases. The function of the critical factors is complex and it is difficult to determine contingencies and causations. In the sources we examined, there is evidently an imbalance between in-depth empirical research and general knowledge, and the paper offers some suggestions for future research.
Journal review article
Journal of Environmental Management, 2013, Vol 114, p. 148-157