Participation is a relative concept. Too much implies high costs of administration and many losers in a competitive process. Too little implies relatively few gains from trade are accessed. Thus the aim is to optimise rather than maximise participation. In this paper we outline some rules of thumb for setting participation targets and develop a framework for identifying barriers to achieving targets. We use the framework to evaluate six case study tenders covering a variety of land management objectives. These case studies provided pragmatic on-ground lessons in managing participation in real tender applications and resulted in several further lessons for participation management in tender design.