Participative governance

Participative governance: making citizens’ dialogue work

Most present-day societal challenges have an international or cross border component. On issues like security, migration and economy, different layers of government need to work together more closely than before. Top down decision-making no longer works, as dealing effectively with societal challenges requires recognizing the local context. As a matter of fact, tailor-made solutions can only exist by involving local levels of government and, most importantly, the citizens.

How can I effectively organize participative governance?

For participative governance to work, you need to at least have:

  1. A well-defined public value
  2. A clear process that fits the objective
  3. Control measures to prevent or limit unintended negative consequences
  4. A formal decision-making process put in place

However, even when all of these requirements are met, success is not guaranteed.

The challenges of participative governance

We believe that many of the well-intended initiatives to engage with citizens or help them participate fail, because they either (a) fail to engage with a broad variety of citizens or (b) badly manage the expectations. In these cases is it unclear or opaque for citizens what happens with their input and as a result they risk losing faith in participation altogether. To avoid this, stakeholder engagement and citizens involvement are crucial. Getting people to engage with governing entities, while using appealing, easy to access formats and intuitive digital platforms. In this approach, participative governance is the cornerstone of modern strategic communication.

How can Berenschot help you?

Berenschot has a great amount of experience with facilitating and guiding governmental bodies to implement participative governance and helping organisations with implementing strategic communication processes. In our projects we use easy-to-implement, appealing and result-driven participative interventions. Interventions that encourage people to engage, interact and get feedback on what happens/ happened with their input. Think of a training for the municipal council, facilitating concrete initiatives and delivering a so-called participative scan of local democracy. All resulting in the promotion of participation in (local) communities.

Local initiatives, international impact

In short, we provide support in four different forms of participation:

  1. Consultative participation
  2. Decisive participation
  3. Participation regarding the implementation
  4. Participation in the learning cycle/ evaluation

Making use of the best-pratices among our (Dutch) experience, Berenschot can help design, facilitate and implement regional, cross-border participation projects that are very much in line with the European ambition to support European cooperation at the local level. We are ready to take the next step. Are you?

More information

Would you like to learn more about participative government? Feel free to contact us and make participation work!

Tim Masselink

Tim Masselink

Senior consultant