New thinking on managing participation and engagement
Over the past few years a number of reviewers have pointed to the need for us to get more accurate about our use of the word participation. Similarly we need to look not only at how well citizens and other stakeholders engage, but on the capacity that government and other agencies have to support the engagement of citizens and other stakeholder groups. There is growing evidence that we need to replace recipe-based approaches - which emphasise selecting the relevant tools for the job - with an approach that emphasises participation as a process. The latter also implies the need to pay more attention to ensuring that processes are managed by those with well-developed skills in relationship-building, facilitation and conflict mangement.
Further reading on this topic can also be gained by the related page on building networks for learning which also looks at managing different engagement approaches including partnerships, team building, communities of practice and learning groups.
- Liberating structures: A new pattern language for engagement This recent 2011 OD Practitioner paper by Lisa Kimball looks at how managers can generate meaningful engagement that constructively transforms work and organizations. She acknowledges how employee engagement, customer engagement, and stakeholder engagement have become common terms. But, as she points out, too often, the term feels meaningless - most people do not know where to start to make it happen. To facilitate significant, transformative changes in organizations we need to make a profound change in how people interact, not just at off sites and other special occasion meetings, but in the weekly team meetings, the ad hoc design sessions, and problem solving get togethers that make up daily life in organizations.
- Stakeholder Participation for Environmental Management: A Literature Review This paper by Mark Reed points to the need to focus on participation as a process. It then identifies a number of best practice features from the literature. Finally, it argues that to overcome many of its limitations, stakeholder participation must be institutionalised, creating organisational cultures that can facilitate processes where goals are negotiated and outcomes are necessarily uncertain. The paper acknowledges that seen in this light, participatory processes may seem very risky, but there is growing evidence that if well designed, these perceived risks may be well worth taking. [A later version of the paper is published at Reed, MS (2008) Stakeholder participation for environmental management: A literature review. BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION, 141 (10): 2417-2431; OCT 2008]
- An introduction to community engagement This first paper by Hildy Gottlieb highlights many of the benefits of engaging with your community. More important than even all those results, though, Community Engagement builds community, just by the simple act of engaging. And that engaged community, working together arm-in-arm, can move mountains in building an amazing place to live. Another introductory piece on community engagement is Engaging Queenslanders: An introduction to community engagement which has been written to provide Queensland Government public offcials with a good understanding of community engagement and effective engagement practices.
- Community participation: Who benefits? This report by Paul Skidmore, Kirsten Bound and Hannah Lownsbrough explores whether policies to involve people in making decisions about their own communities are effective in building strong social networks. Through detailed case studies in two areas, and a review of other research, the authors investigate the key factors influencing participation in governance. They argue that community participation tends to be dominated by a small group of people and suggest ways in which formal participation arrangements could more effectively engage with informal everyday social networks.
- Dare we jump off Arnstein’s ladder? Social learning as a new policy paradigm This conference paper by Kevin Collins and Ray Ison acknowledges that participation is now a central consideration of policy discourses at EU; national and local levels, particularly in relation to environmental resources. As it becomes a social expectation so the form, meaning and purpose of participation has diversified. While Arnstein’s ladder of citizen participation (Arnstein, 1969) revealed that much ‘participation’ does little to broker a reassignment of power, this paper argues that it is perhaps time to jump off the ladder. In doing so, we suggest that an emphasis on social learning constitutes a paradigm shift in the thinking and practices of policy-making.
- Public participation and climate change adaptation This Tyndall Centre working paper by Roger Few, Katrina Brown and Emma L. Tompkins discusses prospects for inclusive approaches to adaptation, drawing particularly on studies of long-term coastal management in the UK and elsewhere. The authors acknowledge that public participation is an important normative goal in formulating response to climate change risks, but argue that its practice must be sensitive to existing critiques of participatory processes from other contexts. Involving a wide range of stakeholders in decision-making presents fundamental challenges for climate policy, many of which are embedded in relations of power. In the case of anticipatory response to climate change, these challenges become magnified because of the long-term and uncertain nature of the problem. Without due consideration of these issues, a tension between principles of public participation and anticipatory adaptation is likely to emerge and may result in an overly-managed form of inclusion that is unlikely to satisfy either participatory or instrumental goals. Alternative, more narrowly instrumental approaches to participation are more likely to succeed in this context, as long as the scope and limitations of public involvement are made explicit from the outset.
- Understanding participatory research in the context of natural resource management - paradigms, approaches and typologies. This paper has been written by Kirsten Probst and Jürgen Hagmann, with contributions from Maria Fernandez and Jacqueline Ashby. It points out that in the field of natural resource management (NRM), which emerged as a new integration domain in the agricultural sciences, participatory research is conceptually and operationally still in its infancy and a range of activities are labeled ‘participatory research’. The paper aims at shedding some light on this confusion. Based on a review of literature and internet sites, it provides an overview of the CGIAR’s current NRM research practice, analysing the impact orientation, research foci, the pathway/strategy to impact and the role of participatory research. The paper also offers a framework which helps to differentiate approaches to innovation development and to ‘unpack’ the blurred concept of ‘participatory research’.
- Working on both sides of the equation: Local governments and civil society working together A number of studies have highlighted that citizens both in the South and in the North have increasingly lost faith in their governments as they realise that their needs are not adequately represented in their policies and feel increasingly alienated. In order to tackle this crisis of governance and for citizens to participate fully in local governance processes, it is essential that new relationships are built between governments and ordinary people. And it is not enough to raise citizens' voice or to increase local government responsiveness. It is essential to also work on both sides of the equation, that is in the interaction between the two forces, where meaningful participatory governance takes place.
- Climate change policy: the 'joined-up community' approach The paper by by Janette Hartz-Karp points out the real problems of involving citizens in policy development. She shows the need for deliberative democracy that combines three basic tenets: ‘Representation' and ‘Inclusion', ‘Deliberation'and ‘Influence'. Finally she talks about examples where these are happening in Western Australia.
- Unpacking “Participation” in the Adaptive Management of Social–ecological Systems: a Critical Review Adaptive management has the potential to make environmental management more democratic through the involvement of different stakeholders. In this article, Lindsay Stringer and colleagues examine three case studies at different scales that followed adaptive management processes, critically reflecting upon the role of stakeholder participation in each case. Specifically, they examine at which stages different types of stakeholders can play key roles and the ways that each might be involved. They show that a range of participatory mechanisms can be employed at different stages of the adaptive cycle, and can work together to create conditions for social learning and favorable outcomes for diverse stakeholders. This analysis highlights the need for greater reflection on case study research in order to further refine participatory processes within adaptive management. This should not only address the shortcomings and successes of adaptive management as a form of democratic environmental governance, but should also unpack the links between science, institutions, knowledge, and power.
- Active Partners: Benchmarking Community Participation in Regeneration If community participation is key to success, it needs to happen across the range of public spending, and it needs to be measured. Yet there are few efforts that measure whether community participation actually takes place or to what degree. Too often, communities have been consulted, but not given the chance to actively participate. They have been involved in detail, but not in strategy.This UK-based report prepared by Yorkshire Forward offers twelve benchmarks for communities and public policy makers to assess the extent to which community participation is taking place. It offers a tool kit for analysing weaknesses, suggestions for best practice and a framework for improvement. Community participation has no finishing line. Active Partners will encourage the best to do better, and the worst to reach the standards that will bring success.
- Participation, relationships and dynamic change: New thinking on evaluating the work of international networks The report is pitched at practitioners,those in the doing business of co-ordinating and participating in networks, and at those who fund such activity, the donors, who then ask for ‘accounts’. By ‘accounts’ we mean not simply financial, but the stories of success and difficulties encountered in the doing of the work.
- People & Participation People & Participation is Involve's first publication, launched in 2005. Its starting point is that deepening and strengthening democracy depends on success in learning lessons about why some kinds of participation lead to better and more legitimate decisions, while others do not. The book shows that greater public involvement can greatly help in addressing some of our most pressing problems, and countering the risks of distrust and alienation. But it also warns that too much participation today is superficial, an exercise in ticking boxes as opposed to good democratic governance, or using public consultation to justify decisions that have already been made. People and participation is also available as a website - http://www.peopleandparticipation.net. Other Involve publications also provide useful information in this area.