Chris Ansell and Alison Gash from the University of California explored the phenomenon of collaborative governance and aimed to create its effective model in their article “Collaborative Governance in Theory and Practice.”
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Authors defined the term “collaborative governance” as a governing arrangement where one or more public agencies directly engage non-state stakeholders in a collective formal, consensus-oriented, and deliberative decision-making process that aims to implement a public policy or manage public programs. They conducted a meta-analysis of existing literature and discussed positive and negative factors of collaborative governance.
Results showed that powerful stakeholders or other participants with an unequal amount of resources and distrust were negative factors influencing the collaborative governance. Meanwhile, the establishment of beneficial relationships, collective learning, and problem-solving were the positive outcomes. In addition, basic ground rules and protocols were particularly important to ensure procedural legitimacy and transparency. Deadlines were found to limit the scope of discussions during the meetings.
According to their findings, collaboration is predicted to be productive if it continues during a sufficient amount of time and establishes trust between agencies. Conflicts can be resolved rationally if stakeholders are dependent on each other. These contingencies are interrelated and directly affect one another. Authors also recommend using surveys before and after collaboration to assess behavioral changes.
Recently, the practice of collaborative governance became popular in government, public agencies and communities. It facilitates cooperative resolution of complex problems, minimizes costs for adversarial policy making, and brings many mutual benefits to stakeholders. However, due to the imposed challenges, maintaining collaborative governance may not always be efficient. This article provided substantial evidence for effective governance considering such factors as time, trust and interdependence.