Managing Stakeholder Involvement in Decision Making: A Comparative Analysis of Six Interactive Processes in the Netherlands
Edelenbos, Jurian, Klijn, Erik-Hans, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory
All over the world, governments are exploring different types of decision making that considers the increased interdependency of public actors on private, semiprivate, and other public actors. This also enhances the opportunity for citizen involvement in decision making. This trend--in which public actors increasingly use old and new types of citizen involvement in decision making--can be seen in all Western democracies. It occurs under labels such as citizen panels but also under labels such as community governance, open planning procedures, and others (see, e.g., Denters, van Geffen, Huisman, and Klok 2003; Lowndes, Pratchet, and Stoker 2001; McLaverty 2002).
INTERACTIVE DECISION MAKING
In the past few years there has been substantial experimentation with interactive decision making in the Netherlands. Interactive governance is described in this article as a way of conducting policies whereby a government involves its citizens, social organizations, enterprises, and other stakeholders in the early stages of the policy-making process (Edelenbos 1999). The difference with more traditional public policy procedures is that parties are truly involved in the development of policy proposals, whereas in classic opportunities of public comment, citizen and interest group involvement only occurred once the policy proposal had been developed. Interactive decision making is a policy practice. It is an experimental form of decision-making practices mainly at the local level but also in some cases at the central level (Edelenbos 2000; Klijn 2003). As such it is interesting to evaluate this new practice, as is done in this article. We see interactive decision making as a new form of network governance, which we try to evaluate empirically.
Interactive decision making is not without problems. Often, it does not fit the "normal" decision-making procedures, so separate organizational provisions have to be developed in order to conform to these "new" decision-making procedures. Evaluating the connection of this new policy practice with existing decision making and the guidance of this new practice (we call this process management) thus seems important. In this article we evaluate the outcomes and backgrounds of six interactive decision-making processes and their organizational arrangements in the Netherlands. The most important question we want to address is, "What is the influence of organizational arrangements on the outcomes of interactive policy processes?"
Before we discuss the outcomes of these six processes, we first discuss some of the background of interactive decision making. We also sketch briefly our theoretical framework and network theory and also pay attention to the question of the tension between new governance forms (of which interactive decision making is one) and existing democratic institutions, which can be found in the governance literature. In the sections below, we discuss and assess the impact of three factors that are considered to influence the outcomes of interactive decision making: process design and management of the interactive decision-making process, the degree of participation, and the relation with existing political institutions. Finally, we compare the cases to discover correlations between organizational arrangements and the outcomes of interactive decision-making processes. We end the article with conclusions.
INTERACTIVE DECISION MAKING: AN OVERVIEW
For some time now, interactive decision making has been used in the Netherlands as a new type of horizontal steering for solving problems (Edelenbos 1999; Koppenjan and Klijn 2004). Interactive decision making is regarded as a way of increasing citizen involvement in government, thereby decreasing the perceived cleavage between government and citizen (Nelissen, Godfroij, and de Goede 1996; Tops et al. 1999), but also as a way to cope with interdependencies in complex processes. …