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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Impact of Collaborative Planning on Governance Capacity

  • Author(s): Innes, Judith E.
  • Booher, David E.
  • et al.

We live in a time of crisis, uncertainty, and change. We also live in a time when our institutions seem to lack the capacity to deal with these conditions. For example, in the face of a profound terrorist threat, the President of the United States disclaimed responsibility for not being prepared, pointing the finger at Congress and at the FBI. The two intelligence agencies most responsible for protecting the country from such threats not only did not share information, they ignored what their own field agents said. Chains of command, routine procedures, turf protection, secrecy, and displacement of organizational goals meant that no one “connected the dots” that could have led the US to the terrorists before the 9/11 disaster. In the meantime, even as Congress is trying to diagnose the intelligence failures, the White House already has a stock answer: create yet another bureaucracy.

This paper is concerned with governance and how some new forms of collaborative dialogue, policy making, and action are filling the gaps left as our formal institutions of government are failing to carry out their responsibilities or where no agency has jurisdiction. These collaborative processes, engaging public and private sector players representing many interests working on tasks that are about public welfare, have become part of an emerging governance system. This system lacks formal authority, is linked in varying ways to formal government, and engages stakeholders who are typically outsiders to public choices. Our goal in this paper is to outline an evaluative framework to assess these emerging collaborative governance efforts in terms of how they are changing our capacity to manage our systems, whether economic, social, or environmental. We hope in this process to explore how these developments may be changing the very concept of governance in contemporary times.

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