To improve citizen engagement, countries around the world are turning towards collaborative policy-making. Such processes as co-design, co-production and co-evaluation all aim to invigorate public administrations by integrating the viewpoints of politicians and bureaucrats with those of civil society and citizens. Unfortunately, due to a lack of practical evidence on the effectiveness and sustainability of these processes, many public administrations fail to leverage the full potential of collaborative policy-making. The EU-funded ENLARGE (ENergies for Local Administrations: Renovate Governance in Europe) project aims to remedy this. “By engaging in a comprehensive literature review and intense dialogues with policy-makers, experts and civil society actors, the ENLARGE project aimed to shed some light on ‘how and why’ co-design, co-production and co-evaluation contribute to better policy-making,” says Ms Erica Melloni, director of the ENLARGE project. “We also set out to gain a better understanding of what favours – or hampers – the success of these collaborative processes within the policy-making domain,” adds Ms Cristina Vasilescu, ENLARGE project coordinator.
Choose your own adventure
Knowing that the success of any collaborative process depends largely on context, project researchers decided to forgo the traditional report and recommendations in favour of a practical, collaborative tool. The result is the ENLARGE Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) gamebook on participatory processes in the field of sustainable energy. “The CYOA gamebook is intended to be a living tool for all communities wanting to boost participatory governance and achieve better results in collaborative processes,” explains Vasilescu. The interactive, online CYOA gamebook places users within a municipality working to implement a sustainable energy policy in collaboration with stakeholders. Users must analyse the specific context, understand all points of view and, based on this, choose the most relevant collaborative process to achieve results. “Through gamification, we are able to provide public administrators the opportunity to get hands-on experience with collaborative policy-making,” says Melloni. “Through trial-and-error, users gain the confidence they need to implement successful collaborative processes within their own real-world departments.”
Valuable tools for Europe
The ENLARGE project has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the effectiveness of collaborative tools within policy-making. “As our gamebook makes abundantly clear, behind every successful collaborative practice there are numerous design and management choices,” says Melloni. “Each of these choices deserves careful consideration and reflection to understand which implications derive from what sequences of choices and interactions within specific contexts.” According to the European Commission, the ENLARGE project’s findings may have a big impact on policy-makers working in public administrations and for all stakeholders involved in formulating and implementing public policies. “The project’s results are valuable tools capable of supporting the up-take of innovative co-creation and co-production initiatives at the EU level,” adds Vasilescu. “Specifically, our knowledge map on collaborative processes and the CYOA gamebook are well-positioned to support the implementation of the European eGovernment Action Plan and other relevant European strategies aimed at modernising the public sector via collaborative approaches to policy-making.”
ENLARGE, gamification, public administration, collaborative policy-making, citizen engagement, sustainable energy