P1 Accountability and legitimacy in collaborative governance

Panel Chairs:
Claire Dupuy and Peter Triantafillou

Corresponding Chair:
Claire Dupuy, claire.dupuy@uclouvain.be

Over the last few decades, public administrations and managers have been under strong pressure to handle ever more complex societal problems with dwindling resources. One of the promising responses to this double challenge has been collaborative governance. By including the knowledge of experts and affected actors, new ICT tools, and mobilizing the local experiences and motivations of frontline workers and citizens in the production of services, collaborative governance may enhance motivation among civil servants and produce more value for money for citizens. Thus, collaborative governance is a potentially a more effective and smarter way of handling complex societal problems than both classical public administration and new public management.

However, collaborative governance is not only about effectiveness and using ICT tools in a smart way, but also about legitimacy of policy process and outcomes. Some studies stress the risks linked to collaborative governance, such as the absence of clear rules and guidelines for the decision-making processes, biased and unequal patterns of participation, vague lines of responsibility and sanctioning. Yet, other studies suggest that collaborative governance may actually enhance its legitimacy by including affected actors in the design process and better addressing the needs of citizens. In brief, the existing literature disagrees both on the consequences of collaborative governance for legitimacy, and on the relationship between accountability and legitimacy.

On this background, this panel has three aims:

1. To improve our conceptual understanding of the relationships between collaborative governance, accountability and legitimacy. We seek papers addressing either the implications of collaborative governance for accountability and legitimacy, or the relationship between the two latter under conditions of collaboration.

2. To examine evaluative methods and tools to gauge the accountability and legitimacy of various forms of collaborative governance. We seek papers reflecting on the dimensions of accountability and legitimacy that such evaluative methods and tools render susceptible and which they do not.

3. To illustrate how various designs and forms of collaborative governance in practice interrelate with various types of accountability and legitimacy. We seek papers examining the effects of collaborative governance with regard to accountability and legitimacy.

Accountability and legitimacy are key concerns to all forms of public management, not least with the emergence of new modes of ICT. Yet, these two concerns remain underexplored in the context of collaborative governance. In particular, there is a dearth of studies trying to examine the relationship between the accountablity and legitimacy under collaborative style public management.

We envisage a fairly traditional panel, though we intend to minimize time for presentation and maximize time for a structured discussion.

The panel is a stepping stone for the development of a journal special issue, hopefully for the PMR. We have already contacted potential panel participants both inside and outside of the EU Horizon project Tropico, which deals with the said issue.

Special Issue

Call for papers PMR Special Issue on Accountability and Legitimacy
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