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Public Values and Public Participation: A Case of Collaborative Governance of a Planning Process

Published Date September 10, 2021
Authors Jill Clark

Abstract

Research on public participation in community planning processes often focuses on the design of participation activities and the tensions therein. Past research, however, gives little attention to the question of who makes these design decisions, what public values they hold, and how those values affect decisions about design. Addressing this gap, this study empirically illustrates the connection between public value frames, design choices, and public participation in a collaborative policymaking process. The case analyzed is a local public planning process designed collaboratively by public and private organizations. The analysis uses participant observation, documents, and interviews. Results demonstrate how effective collaborative governance of the design process and interorganizational power-sharing forced partners to reveal, recognize, and interrogate their own public values while navigating others’ values. The collaborative governance of the planning process allowed the organizations to capitalize on, rather than suffer from, differences in values frames by changing tensions in planning to opportunities and increasing equity in public participation. Findings suggest that research attention should be aimed not just at which stakeholders are invited to participate (and how), but at who designs the participation agenda in the first place. Furthermore, findings suggest that public values frame reflection and collaborative governance of participation design can be key practices improving planning and policy outputs.

Clark, JK. (2021). Public values and public participation: A case of collaborative governance of a planning process. American Review of Public Administration, 51(3): 199-212.