What is Collaborative Governance?

The Policy Consensus Initiative highlights some useful texts in collaborative governance such as the Practical Guide to Collaborative Governance & Training Manual. They have a useful outline of collaborative governance which is worth repeating:

What is Collaborative Governance?

Leaders engaging with all sectors—public, private, non-profit, citizens, and others—to develop effective, lasting solutions to public problems that go beyond what any sector could achieve on its own.

What results does it produce?

The best public solutions come from people working together on issues. Collaborative governance takes as its starting point the idea that working together creates more lasting, effective solutions.

  • Lasting—Solutions developed through collaborative governance won’t simply be undone in the next year or legislative session.
  • Effective—The collaborative governance approach ensures that the realities of the situation are considered and discussed; decisions are not made in a vacuum.
  • More buy-in—From the outset, all with a stake are involved in authentic ways; all have a role in the final agreement.

Why is it needed?

  • Accelerating change
  • Overlapping institutions and jurisdictions
  • Increasing complexity
  • A need to integrate policies and resources

How is this different from “government?”

“Governance” is the process by which public ends and means are identified, agreed upon, and pursued. This is different than “government,” which relates to the specific jurisdiction in which authority is exercised. “Governance” is a broader term and encompasses both formal and informal systems of relationships and networks for decision making and problem solving.

What does it take?

Collaborative governance requires three elements:

  1. Sponsor- an agency, foundation, civic organization, public-private coalition, etc. to initiate and provide support
  2. Convener/Leader- a governor, legislator, local official, respected civic leader, etc. with power to bring diverse people together to work on common problems
  3. Neutral Forum- an impartial organization or venue, etc. to provide and ensure skilled process managament

How does it work?

The System integrates the principles and network to assure an effective collaborative governance process:

  • Sponsors identify and raise an issue
  • Assessment is made on the feasibility for collaboration and who needs to be involved
  • Leader(s) convene all needed participants
  • Participants adopt this framework for addressing the issue
  • Conveners and participants frame (or reframe) the issue for deliberation
  • Neutral forum/facilitator designs and conducts a process to negotiate interests and integrate resources
  • Written agreement establishes accountability
  • Sponsors identify and raise an issue or opportunity that calls for a collaborative response

This collaborative governance system can work anywhere as long as several key principles are adhered to: transparency; equity and inclusiveness; effectiveness and efficiency; responsiveness; accountability; forum neutrality; and consensus-based decision making.

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