The general aim of this paper is to explore possible links between decision-making in public sector, citizen involvement, and the effectiveness of public policies. This historical moment, characterized by the succession of two crises, namely the financial one of 2008 and that of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21, seems to require the promotion of a new administrative culture in public administration as well as management tools that can promote sustainable public policies and community participation. The promotion of this change could be applied through the concept of participatory governance, which is put into effect when the community becomes the central subject of public policies through tools of direct democratic participation. From this perspective, stakeholders should not only be the recipients of transparent and accountable information from public bodies but also the central subjects of governmental decision-making processes. In theory, participatory budgeting may be the ideal tool for the realization of participatory governance. Participatory budgeting originated in the late 1980s with the well-known experience of Porto Alegre. After that, it spread to the rest of the world through a process that was not always uniform or linear. In recent years, it has regained the attention of scholars and new cases of concrete application. Therefore, the present study aimed to answer the following research questions by discussing the most relevant theories and analyzing empirical research results: - What is the level of diffusion of participatory governance and participatory budgeting in Italian local municipalities? - What are the main reasons behind the adoption of participatory budgeting? - How could participatory governance influence the decision-making process of public bodies? A two-step research approach was adopted for this study. The first step was a web-based survey on participatory budgeting experiences in Italian municipalities. In total, 136 experiences with participatory budgeting processes between 2015 and 2020 were identified. The second step involved the selection of a sample population of municipalities with relevant experiences of participatory budgeting (based on its persistence over time, the amount of financial resources addressed to participatory processes, and the number of people involved). In this step, individual research interviews were conducted with the people in charge for the participatory policies, in order to investigate issues related to the motivations and effectiveness of participatory budgeting practices. The results show that, although there has been a recent increase in the use of participatory tools, some doubts emerge about their real effectiveness in influencing decision-making processes. Nevertheless, the diffusion of a new culture of participation seems to favor, for the future, the development of participatory processes characterized by a greater degree of effectiveness.

Conditions for effective participatory governance in public decision-making processes

Badia, Francesco
2021-01-01

Abstract

The general aim of this paper is to explore possible links between decision-making in public sector, citizen involvement, and the effectiveness of public policies. This historical moment, characterized by the succession of two crises, namely the financial one of 2008 and that of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21, seems to require the promotion of a new administrative culture in public administration as well as management tools that can promote sustainable public policies and community participation. The promotion of this change could be applied through the concept of participatory governance, which is put into effect when the community becomes the central subject of public policies through tools of direct democratic participation. From this perspective, stakeholders should not only be the recipients of transparent and accountable information from public bodies but also the central subjects of governmental decision-making processes. In theory, participatory budgeting may be the ideal tool for the realization of participatory governance. Participatory budgeting originated in the late 1980s with the well-known experience of Porto Alegre. After that, it spread to the rest of the world through a process that was not always uniform or linear. In recent years, it has regained the attention of scholars and new cases of concrete application. Therefore, the present study aimed to answer the following research questions by discussing the most relevant theories and analyzing empirical research results: - What is the level of diffusion of participatory governance and participatory budgeting in Italian local municipalities? - What are the main reasons behind the adoption of participatory budgeting? - How could participatory governance influence the decision-making process of public bodies? A two-step research approach was adopted for this study. The first step was a web-based survey on participatory budgeting experiences in Italian municipalities. In total, 136 experiences with participatory budgeting processes between 2015 and 2020 were identified. The second step involved the selection of a sample population of municipalities with relevant experiences of participatory budgeting (based on its persistence over time, the amount of financial resources addressed to participatory processes, and the number of people involved). In this step, individual research interviews were conducted with the people in charge for the participatory policies, in order to investigate issues related to the motivations and effectiveness of participatory budgeting practices. The results show that, although there has been a recent increase in the use of participatory tools, some doubts emerge about their real effectiveness in influencing decision-making processes. Nevertheless, the diffusion of a new culture of participation seems to favor, for the future, the development of participatory processes characterized by a greater degree of effectiveness.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11586/370423
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