Poster Paper: Finding the key determinants of deliberative participatory process: The case of participatory budgeting (PB)

Saturday, November 4, 2017
Regency Ballroom (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Won No, Arizona State University

Participatory budgeting (PB), which allows community members to participate in local budget decision-making process, is a good example of direct democratic governance practice. Furthermore PB has a great potential to achieve a goal of deliberative governance because its design enables people to gather and discuss the community problems and solutions. Even though deliberative process has been considered as a core aspect of PB, however, there is still a lack of empirical evidence on whether PB can be successful in achieving deliberative democracy and if so, how.

This study, using the Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) method, tries to find combinations of causal conditions that can lead to deliberative participatory process. QCA is a case-based analytical tool that can identify different causal pathways that lead to a specified outcome. Using the case of PB in Seoul, South Korea, this study examines the deliberative quality of 33 PB committee meetings held in summer 2016. The meeting records, which include all speeches of participants, are publicly available because the city government shares the records of all committee meetings through the PB website. Deliberation quality and the conditions of the meetings are analyzed and examined through three steps. First, five conditions are examined for each meeting: the role of facilitators, the role of city officials, diversity of participants, level of participation, and participant behaviors. Second step is scoring each meeting for its deliberativeness. Each speech delivered by individuals will be coded using the quality of deliberation index - developed by incorporating and revising existing indices in the literature. Among components of index are focus, interruption, respectfulness, constructiveness, and level of justification. As a result, aggregated deliberation scores are measured for each meeting and high scored meetings are determined as the desirable outcome cases. Third step is to construct a “truth table” to find the combinations of conditions that lead to the desirable outcome cases which are deliberative participatory processes.

This paper, to the best of my knowledge, is the first empirical study to evaluate the quality of deliberation using full records of meetings in a particular stage of PB processes. One of the reasons why it has not been studied yet was because the availability of data – many cities that implement PB commonly share summarized meeting minutes but in this case there were full records of each speech that has been made by the participants. It is important to achieve the goal of deliberative governance because it is believed that people could make decisions based on the reasons not by power or money through deliberation. This paper will contribute to the field of public management and civic engagement by providing not only theoretical understandings of deliberative participatory processes but also recommendations to practitioners on how to promote deliberative democracy in participatory governance.