Engaging Diverse Communities in Designing and Delivering Public Services
(Public and Non-Profit Management and Finance)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Engagement of diverse perspectives is increasingly central to the design and implementation of many public policies. This engagement takes various forms, including citizen participation, collaborative partnerships, co-production, and other tools of inclusive governance. The use of these tools affects policy outcomes by expanding the array of voices and resources involved in the governance, management, and delivery of public programs. This expansion can enhance inclusion, democratic governance, and the quality of policy decisions, but it can also complicate efforts to secure agreement and coordinate the implementation of those decisions.
This panel brings together four papers that study alternative approaches to engaging citizens, service recipients, providers, and other community partners in various local communities in the United States. Featuring a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, the papers investigate the relationships between variables that are crucial for the design and implementation of human services, public education, public health, and other basic local government services.
- Bultema examines the relationships between citizen participation and different process outcomes of collaborative networks in public health.
- Page and Stone study the relationship between the organizational form and the problem frames of collaborations in the field of public education among diverse actors from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
- Cheng, Brudney, and Meijs investigate the effects that contracting public services out to nonprofit or for-profit organizations have on citizen coproduction of those services across multiple policy fields.
- Fyall and Fowle examine how case managers’ discretion and the context of service provider partner organizations affect the receipt of services by clients who are at risk of homelessness.
In combination, the papers reveal comparative insights about how different approaches to inclusive governance shape the design and delivery of public programs, and hence the potential of public policies to achieve their intended outcomes. The variety of approaches to citizen and community engagement that the papers capture suggests that tools of inclusive governance pose considerable potential but also numerous challenges for improving policy design and implementation.