Roundtable: Exploring the Challenges of and Opportunities for Diversity and Representation in Collaborative Governance
(Public and Non-Profit Management and Finance)

Thursday, November 7, 2019: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Court 6 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Tanya Heikkila, University of Colorado, Denver
Moderator:  Tanya Heikkila, University of Colorado, Denver
Speakers:  Christopher Weible, University of Colorado, Denver, Brian Y. An, University of Tennessee and Rachel Fyall, University of Washington

Collaborative governance encompasses various approaches to policy-making and management that involve diverse groups of actors -- sometimes with something in common -- who work together to address problems and generate mutually agreed upon solutions.  It is often celebrated because it can provide a way to deal with wicked problems and overcome the most intractable political dilemmas facing a society – from environmental management to transportation planning, healthcare, and housing, just to name a few.  In addressing these issues collaborative governance can offer a means for policymaking and management to surmount jurisdictional fragmentation or navigate polycentric structures of government.  Collaborative governance can also increase representation, incorporate different voices, and leverage the relative strengths of actors from multiple sectors. Of course, collaborative governance is not a panacea.  It can exacerbate power differentials, spark disputes, and fail to achieve meaningful policy or management outcomes. 

These challenges raise important questions that are central to APPAM’s Fall Research Conference theme, such as: what biases does collaborative governance encapsulate, what power structures do different types of collaborative governance reinforce, and who gains and who loses from this type of arrangement? Additionally, under what conditions do collaborative governance arrangements have the potential to influence meaningful policy or management issues, and under what conditions do they constitute examples of faux democratic processes designed to give a false sense of legitimacy to a process?  This roundtable will discuss these questions and their implications for scholarship and practice related to collaborative governance in an open conversation with the audience.  The goal of the discussion will be to pinpoint new questions for research on collaborative governance that can inform theory and practice, and identify specific analytical approaches that can guide assessments of critical issues in collaborative governance.  The discussion will illuminate theoretical insights and hypotheses linking essential characteristics of collaborative governance to policy or management dilemmas associated with power and representation.

The roundtable participants represent faculty and students from the Consortium on Collaborative Governance, which has been meeting and engaging regularly for several years to share knowledge and build networks of diverse scholars who are interested in collaborative governance. The roundtable participants will share some recent insights from workshops of emerging scholarship on collaborative governance that address topics of representation and power. This roundtable will also speak directly to the main theme of the 2019 Fall Research Conference of engaging diverse perspectives on issues and evidence.