Monday, 11 June 2012

Collaborative Governance in Theory and Practice

extracts from:
Chris Ansell, Alison Gash, 2007, "Collaborative Governance in Theory and Practice",Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, OUP.

Ansell and Gash define collaborative governance as follows:
"A governing arrangement where one or more public agencies directly engage non-state stakeholders in a collective decision-making process that is formal, consensus-oriented, and deliberative and that aims to make or implement public policy or manage public programs or assets".

We can surmise from the above definition that:
  • Collaborative governance is a type of governance in which public and private actors work collectively in distinctive ways, using particular processes, to establish laws and rules for the provision of public goods. 
  • Non-state participants engage directly in decision making, and are not merely ‘‘consulted’’ by public agencies.
  • Consensus-oriented decision-making: which recognizes that a consensus decision may not always be possible but the effort to reach a consensus is central to this form of governance
  • The direct engagement of non-state stakeholders also implies that they will have a real responsibility for policy outcomes. 

Collaborative governance has emerged as a response to the failures of downstream implementation and to the high cost and politicization of regulation. It has developed to replace adversarial and managerial modes of policy making and implementation:
  • In adversarial mode, a competition to influence policy is underway between agencies and the interests are conflicting. In collaborative governance the goal is to transform adversarial relationships into more cooperative ones. 
  • In managerialism, public agencies make decisions unilaterally or through closed decision processes, typically relying on agency experts to make decisions. Although managerial agencies may take account of stakeholder perspectives in their decision making or even consult them directly, collaborative governance requires that stakeholders be directly included in the decision-making process.

More positively, one might argue that trends toward collaboration also arise from the growth of knowledge and institutional capacity. As knowledge becomes increasingly specialized and distributed and as institutional infrastructures become more complex and interdependent, the demand for collaboration increases.

Fig 1: Model for Collaborative Governance

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