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Achieving Sustainable and Innovative Policies through Participatory Governance in a Multi-level Context, Final Report

Project ID: HPSE-CT-1999-00028


The main assumption of the research project "Achieving sustainable and innovative policies through participatory governance in a multi-level context" is that under certain circumstances participatory decision-making leads to a higher degree of sustainable and innovative outcomes. Thus, the identification of these conditions becomes the central purpose of the project linking together its theoretical and empirical aspects. The theoretical basis for such an assumption and its further conceptual elaboration were discussed with invited academic experts at two conferences - one held in Florence in September 2000 and the other held in Athens in October 2001. The papers addressed key issues of the current debate on governance, and one of the core questions had been: What does the shift from "government to governance" imply in respect to participation? If one is trying to design an arrangement for participatory governance, one has to provide convincing answers to two questions: (1) who should participate and, (2) how should they participate? This is not that simple - especially since the rules that are most likely to facilitate the mechanics of governance may not be the ones that are the most likely to conform to democratic principles. Is the traditional idea of citizenship appropriate for legitimising participation in governance arrangements - or do we have to go beyond such traditional notions? Philippe Schmitter (as one of the project partners) offers an answer to this question with his "holder" concept, where "holders" are individual or collective actors who possess specific qualities or resources that entitle them to participate or which require that they should participate. But holder involvement does not lead per se to participatory governance, let alone sustainable and innovative outcomes. Therefore, specific (governance) arrangements have to be considered.

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