Conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Roundtable Summary
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“Collaborative Planning & Democracy: Building Capable Institutions of Governance for Network Society”
Thursday, October 21, 2004
The roundtable began with introductions. Panelists included David E. Booher (California State University Sacramento), Judith E. Innes (University of California Berkeley), Patsy Healey (University of Newcastle upon Tyne), Jean S. Hillier (University of Newcastle upon Tyne), and Nancy C. Roberts (Naval Postgraduate School). John Gastil (University of Washington) was unable to attend due to illness. Approximately 50 roundtable participants introduced themselves and briefly described their interests related to collaborative planning.
David Booher introduced the panelists and noted that the emphasis for the roundtable would be to engage all the participants in a discussion about the challenges and opportunities for collaborative planning to help build more capable governance. The panelists' role is to help frame the dialogue and their presentations will be short. David also described the Collaborative Democracy Network. CDN is a network of over 90 interdisciplinary and international scholars interested in the topic of collaborative strategies for governance and democracy. The members collaborate on research and teaching. They are also drafting a “Call to Scholars” to encourage more attention to this issue in research and education. CDN is supported by California State University, Sacramento and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. More information about CDN is available at www.csus.edu/ccp/
Patsy Healy began with a presentation on the Role of Collaborative Experiences in Governance Transformations, using data from experiences in city and regional spatial planning in Europe. (For a copy of Patsy's presentation follow this link: The Role of Collaborative Experiences in Governance Transformations
Patsy explored episodes, process, and governance culture to track governance change.
Nancy Roberts presented some of her recent research regarding Generic Strategies of Governance in a Networked World. Networks are a fundamental characteristic of 21st century society and include issue networks, policy networks, inter-organizational networks, and cross-sectoral networks. (For a copy of Nancy's presentation follow, this link: Generic Strategies of Governance in a Networked World
After brief comments by Judith, Jean, and David the floor was opened to all participants.
The discussion focused on the dynamics of governance as it relates to collaborative planning, research priorities, and teaching approaches.
Several comments related to challenges for collaboration in governance. These included distinguishing between collaboration and cooperation, attention to marginalized stakeholders, the importance for stakeholders in learning how to participate in order to be empowered through the process, and the need for openness of the process. Evolution of collaboration within the existing specific context of a governance system is an important factor. Often we start with cooperation and evolve to collaboration because on first impression collaboration may seem “unnatural” to stakeholders and agency officials. Collaboration is emergent, inclusive and self-organizing, not directive, and requires diversity and interdependence. Collaboration operates in the “shadow of hierarchy” and requires new perceptions about legitimacy and accountability. For example, who is the “we” in a collaborative process? And often change follows conflict. Governance often seems like “reality show democracy” focused on losers/winners. But mobilization of marginalized stakeholders can lead to broader coalitions. Governance transformation must deal with institutionalizing the ad hoc, legislative approvals, and funding issues, as well as the tension between vision and uncertainty. Is a collaborative process inside government or outside government or “somewhere” else?
A number of suggestions regarding research opportunities were made. These included case comparisons and longitudinal studies. Network theory and conditions are important. The historical foundations and organizational phases for collaborative processes and episodes, and issues of capacity of the governance institutions are also important. Research should look at structures and skill sets required, how collaboration is “regularized”, and how they change overtime. The group was skeptical of practice recipes. The process of collaboration may not lend itself to such formulae for practice. At the same time it is clear that not every process calling itself “collaboration” is really a collaborative process. There are conditions that are required to sustain collaboration, including interdependence, authentic dialogue, and diversity of interests. The group also agreed that collaboration is not appropriate in all governance contexts, and the exploration of when and where collaboration is appropriate is an important question for research. A related issue is how collaborative processes can be integrated into democratic institutions such as government agencies and whether collaborative processes can be scaled up, for example to the national level. In this regard one key conceptual question is the distinction between deliberative democracy based upon collaborative processes and participatory democracy. Finally, the research in business on collaboration by such folks as Peter Senge and the Sloan School of Management may offer important resources for policy and planning research.
The challenge of teaching topics related to collaboration in planning was summed up in the question “how does one teach an art”? Collaborative processes are similar to design, rather than having clear formulae to rely on. Teaching needs to look at patterns of relations and cultural assumptions, among other topics. It should be based on team learning approaches from educational psychology. David Straus' book How to Make Collaboration Work was mentioned as one good resource.
The session adjourned at 5:30PM. David Booher announced that a summary of the roundtable would be posted at the website of the Center for Collaborative Policy: www.csus.edu/ccp/Back to Collaborative Democracy Network main page