Skip to main content

Collaborative Governance in Action

Government: one participant amongst many

In a previous post we highlighted the need to go beyond voting for robust democratic participation. But if that's the case then the question becomes - how? Where do we create places for collaboration, discussion, and dialogue surrounding key issues facing our communities?

One possibility is to set up opportunities for collaborative governance. Now remember, governance is distinct from government; governance refers to decision-making practices and structures, and also the broader systems in which decisions about our communities are made. A government is a specific entity endowed with decision-making authority over something.

Collaborative governance simply refers to decision-making where multiple different organizations are involved. In these forums, governments are one of the participants amongst many, as opposed to being the sole arbiter over final decisions. Decision-making takes place between both state and non-state entities, and authority is shared horizontally across all participants, whether they're government participants or not.
Where these collaborative tables are set up, they enable information sharing and coordination over complex policy areas. Notably, community issues that impact multiple organizations, and that are beyond the scope of any single entity, can be tackled collectively by multiple partners.

Examples of collaborative governance in the lower mainland of BC include:
All of the above efforts are collaborative tables with a wide range of participants, created to tackle complex problems. For example, Our Place is a collaboration of residents, community-based organizations, and service providers committed to ensuring that Vancouver's inner city children have every opportunity for success.

For these to work, participants have to demonstrate a high level of trust, and even some degree of vulnerability so that open sharing and dialogue can take place. Where these forums are effective the results can be powerful. One study found that 50% of the policy decisions made by a collaborative effort produced decisions that would never have been put forward in an alternative, conventional, bureaucratic approach

This finding goes beyond effectiveness. It suggests that, for some issues, the development of effective policy approaches requires places for collaborative governance to happen. 

Are there places in your community where collaborative governance is happening? If so let us know in the comments, or by email: evokebc@gmail.com
We want to support these efforts - and share the successes and challenges! 


Comments

  1. Some examples from similar efforts in the US. http://www.governing.com/commentary/col-cities-long-term-citizen-engagement.html?utm_term=Citizen%20Engagement%20for%20the%20Long%20Haul&utm_campaign=State%20Efforts%20Stall%20to%20Bring%20Back%20Obamacare%27s%20Individual%20Mandate&utm_content=email&utm_source=Act-On+Software&utm_medium=email

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Why democracy doesn't always require a majority

With the recent referendum in BC on electoral reform, which resulted in not only a defeat at the polls but also an abysmal voter turnout at 42.6% of eligible votes, there have been some renewed calls for policy decisions to be reviewed by a random assortment of voters through something like a Citizens' Assembly. A citizen's assembly would be an alternative, or a complement, to a public vote on a matter of public policy such as electoral reform; rather than putting the matter directly to the public, a random group of citizens would be selected and convened to give their opinion.

Further, over the course of the referendum, other important questions were raised about the process itself: what's a sufficient voter turnout to inform a policy decision? Shouldn't the ballot include the specific details of the voting system being proposed?

All of these questions serve as an important reminder of why democracy entails much more than showing up at a poll booth to submit a vote. A…

Accountability: getting information about public things...to the public

When it comes to democracy one term that gets floated around often is the notion of accountability. But what does accountability actually mean? What does it look like?

Further, in the context of government bodies, elected representatives, and the myriad different organizations that provide civil services in our communities, how does accountability happen? And what's required for a community institution to be able to say it is accountable?

The answer is different, for different institutions. For example, we often focus on the accountability of elected officials and government representatives. But what about Crown corporations, or state companies? In Canada, Crown corporations are publicly held entities that provide a public service, but that are not directly managed or overseen by any elected official. The first federal Crown Corporation was the Canadian National Railway, established in 1922, and there are now a diverse array of publicly owned autonomous public entities in diverse s…

The Problem with Voting

Voting at the polls is a cornerstone of democracy today. When we think about, and understand, democratic participation, we imagine casting some kind of vote for some kind of person or issue in some kind of election.

Unfortunately, a focus on voting narrows the possibilities for democratic participation, which is really all about shared decision-making. Don't get me wrong, voting is important. It took us about 2500 years to set up voting as an actual mechanism to make decisions, and even now it's certainly not a widespread practice. The right to vote is a contested aspiration in many corners of the world, and we should support the right of each and every person to an equal voice in community decision making.

However, an exclusive focus on voting carries a significant risk. The concept of democracy is an aspiration; an aspiration to share decision-making, and to enable each other, as equals, to participate in decision-making. Decision-making cannot always be achieved with a sin…