New democratic institutional design involving citizens, politicians and public administrators in collaborative innovation endeavours in a Danish municipality
The call for more innovative public policies is increasing as many governments are faced with complex problems and increased demands. Public resources are considered to be scarce and the expectations among citizens and their demands to public services are often huge. As a result, there has been a proliferation of attempts to create both more efficient as well as flexible public services. Theories of innovation haw inspired efforts to close the gap between high public expecta-tions and limited public resources. The fact that the innovation agenda is to a large extent inspired by theories and models from private sector innovation, however, means that service innovation have obtained a much larger attention than policy innovation. The focus of this paper is on how policy innovation can be spurred through collaboration between politicians and a variety of stakeholders. The main claim is that policy innovation is promoted when politicians and stakeholders get into dialogue at early states in the policy process since this allow the involved actors to develop their views and opinions together. This is particularly the case in situations where traditional roles and identities block collaborative endeav-ours. Empirically, the paper draws on a case study of collaborative policy innovation in a Danish municipality. We have studied a local task force set up to develop a municipal policy for “Citizen – and stakeholder participation”. The members of the taskforce were the local mayor, the city manager, 6 citizens, 6 local politicians and 2 administrators. The taskforce have experimented with new forms of conversations and facilitated dialogues and in new ways of getting inputs from a broad variety of stakeholders. Moreover, a theatre workshop and an innovation camp have been held as part of the project. The empirical part of the project is gathered in collaboration with professor Eva Sørensen and consist of data gathered in a period from September 2010 and will continue to the end of 2011. We have observed meetings, conducted qualitative interviews in the beginning and 8 months later with all the members of the task force, and been part of organising the theatre workshop. The study identifies several barriers to collaborative innovation but also indicate that new ways of organizing policy making processes can spur innovation.
innovation; institutional design for collaborative policy innovation