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Discuss about the Public Administeation ?

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A new form of governance has emerged as a substitute to the managerial and adversarial methods of formulating and implementing policies. This new form of governance is called the collaborative governance which brings in several stakeholders together with public agencies in common forums so that they can participate harmoniously in the decision making process (O'Flynn & Wanna, 2013). In other words a collaborative governing arrangement may be defined as a governing arrangement where several public agencies involve non-state stakeholders to actively participate in the formal decision making process in order to formulate public policies and implement the public assets or programs. Collaborative governance has the following essential characteristics: the forum is established by public agencies; the non-state stakeholders are a part of the forum; the participants actively participate in the decision making process; the objective of the forum is to formulate and implement public policies harmoniously and consensually. This form of governing arrangement has been developed in order to respond to the failure of the adversarialism and failure of accountability in the managerialism. Collaborative governance seems to assure that if collaborative governing arrangement is adopted then it would facilitate in reducing the high expense that is incurred in the adversarial method of policy-making process and result in increase democratic participation and refurbish reasonability to public management.

Collaborative governance process includes various stages. Many scholars describe the consensus-building process as an implementation or a negotiation phase. Some scholars identify three stages, which includes policy formulation, policy development and the decision-making process (Guerrero et al., 2015). One of the essential elements of the term collaborative governance is the word ‘governance’. Several authors have construed the word governance as rules, legal regimes, administrative practice and judicial decisions that prohibit and enable provisions related to public goods and services. It is often argued while interpreting ‘governance’ that it refers to a form of government, which blurs the boundaries between and within the private and the public sectors. However, governance also includes decision-making process, which involves the active participation of both the private and the public sectors. Therefore, another essential element in collaborative governance includes a form of government wherein both the private and the public sectors work together in different ways, following particular process in order to develop rules and laws for the provision of public related goods.

In a collaborative governing process, every individuals and all the interest groups are entitled to participate in the decision making process regarding the decisions that tends to affect them. Although most of the collaborative arrangements strictly involve non-state actors, effective collaborative governance specifically defines the role played by the public agencies. The term ‘public agency’ includes the legislatures, courts, bureaucracies and other governmental bodies, however, in collaborative governance the term public agency refers to the executive branch agency (Emerson & Gerlak, 2014). These public agencies tend to start collaborative forums either to comply with statutory mandates or to satisfy their own purpose. Several scholars are of the opinion that collaborative governance indicates that the public agencies and the non-state stakeholders share a different kind of relationship. For instance, some authors state that collaborative arrangements signifies representation by the essential interest groups, whereas some are of the opinion that collaborative governance include representatives of all related groups.

The term stakeholders in collaborative governance shall include the participation of the organized groups and the participation of the citizens as individuals. Although the public agencies and the stakeholders play distinctive roles in a collaborative arrangement, they may be referred to as stakeholders for convenience. Collaborative governance is effective if it involves collectiveness. There must be a two-way communication between the stakeholders and the public agencies. They must hold meetings together and engage themselves in deliberations (Bryson, 2013). Collaborative arrangements entails that stakeholders must participate in the decision-making process, as they shall be responsible for the consequences of the policies.

The decisions in the collaborative form of governance are made harmoniously, that is, the participants of the forum must come to an agreement in order to resolve the concerned issues. Although the public agencies possess the final decisive authority to decide, the underlying objective of collaboration is to achieve agreement among all the stakeholders. Collaborative governance concentrates on public related policies and issues (Head & Alford, 2015). Collaborative governance is different from other forums like alternative dispute resolution forums or mediation forums. The public agencies may resort to the alternative dispute resolution and mediation forums in order to resolve the public related issues but these forums are designed to resolve disputes arising between private individuals. An essential feature of collaborative form of governance is that in order to reduce the indistinctness between the public and the private sectors, the term collaborative governance is defined as a government that deals with public affairs.


Collaborative governance becomes effective if all the stakeholders participate in the decision-making process, however, it is obvious that the authority of including or excluding certain stakeholders shall arise in the collaborative forum but there are certain stakeholders the exclusion of which shall intimidate the legitimacy of eth decision-making process or even result in the failure of the collaboration process altogether. The final deliberations of the collaborative forum may be questioned in case the relevant participants of the forum are of the view that they were not represented efficiently (Huxham & Vangen, 2013).

The parties who obtain the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process of the collaborative forum are the ones who tend to be committed to the process. The success of the decision-making process of a collaborative form of governance relies on three essential factors: whether people affected by the decisions taken by the forum respect the participants or their expertise and the authority of the participants to make such decisions. The collective authority and expertise and the decisive authority of the participants or the collaborators are fundamental for the decision-making processes and the collaboration outcome of the collaborative arrangement (Fung, 2015). If the participants lack any of these factors they are considered to be incapable and have no authority to make decisions related to the fundamental issues. If the participants demonstrate their expertise and capability to resolve the issues, the decisions made by them are considered to be appropriate.

The parties in the collaborative governance process may realize that there is a need to engage people on a wider scale in the decision-making process. For example, the participants in the collaborative governance may become conscious about the fact that the process must include even those individuals who are affected by the consequences of the policies along with those people who have interests in such outcome. While the proper inclusion of stakeholders is essential for an effective collaborative governance, several scholars have comprehended that the participating groups shall have distinct incentives in order to participate in the collaborative governance process relying on their respective power in the forum (Bryson, Crosby & Bloomberg, 2014).

There are factors that hinder the effective working of the collaborative governance process (Margerum, 2016). Firstly, the parties participating in the decision-making process who believes to be powerful usually does not restrict themselves to one specific collaborative way, instead they like to have more options available to them. As it is pointed out by scholars of collaborative governance that when there are multiple options available for resolution, it is conceived that a resolution using the collaborative process is not a favourable option.

Secondly, the issue regarding the power imbalance may take place when decisions about including representatives stakeholders from the organised sectors of the society is made as several interests groups may not have an structural framework to represent them in the collaborative governance process (Doberstein, 2016). Therefore, the more the stakeholders are affected, the more difficult it becomes to represent the stakeholders in the collaborative governances processes.

Thirdly, there is an existence of differences of interest and conflict. Such conflict may result in an inter-group antagonism and it becomes very difficult to overcome such inter-group antagonism through collaborative governance processes. The stakeholders become so involved in interpreting their own identities and preparing solutions to resolve the problems they face. This prevents them from concentrating on the collaboration governance process (Choi & Robertson, 2013).

Fourthly, the conditions present in the beginning of the collaboration process, it may either encourage or discourage cooperation among the stakeholders or between the stakeholders and the public agencies.

Fifthly, if the stakeholders are incapable or do not have any resources, status or is unable to participate equally with the other stakeholders, then the collaborative governance process shall be easily manipulated by the stronger participants. It becomes a major concern when key stakeholders do not possess structural framework to be represented in a collaborative process. An additional issue related to the imbalance of power is at times the stakeholders do not have the energy or time to engage themselves in a time consuming collaborative governance process.

Lastly, in a collaborative governance process, the participation process is voluntary due to which it becomes difficult to comprehend the incentives of the stakeholders which encourages them to involve in the collaborative governance and the factors that outlines the incentives.

The obstacles to effective collaborative governance process can be mitigated if the participants adopt the appropriate approaches. Firstly, in order to deal with the conflicts and the difference of interest among the stakeholders and the public agencies and the stakeholders, the participants must be identify the goal, which is beneficial for all the participants engaged in the collaborative governance process, irrespective of the conflicts or differences in interests of the participants.

Secondly, in order to overcome the problem related to the power imbalance, the collaborative governance is required to adopt a positive strategy of empowerment and ensure effective representation of the underprivileged or the weaker stakeholders.

Thirdly, the issue related to antagonism among the stakeholders may be dealt with if the stakeholders are highly interdependent among themselves; the stakeholders trust other and the other participants involved in the decision making process (Klievink, Bharosa & Tan, (2016). If optimistic approaches are adopted to incorporate faith, trust and confidence amongst the stakeholders and the social capital is reduced, the level of antagonism shall come down and the participants shall work together in the decision-making process and resolve issues consensually. This would result in the formulation and implementation of effective policies for public good.

Fourthly, at the time of commencement of the collaboration process, effective leadership is essential. An effective leadership is fundamental in collaborative arrangements as it facilitates in bringing the parties to an agreement and guides them through unsteady situations in the decision-making process. Leadership facilitates the stakeholders to come together and participate in the decision making process in a collaborative spirit. Mediation enhances the responsibility of the the third party intervention to arbitrate when the participants fail to come to an agreement. Under such circumstances, the third party may provide a solution which although shall not amount to a binding arbitration, but it would provide a clear outline of the agenda (Bingham & O'Leary, 2014). Leadership is essential as it facilitates to set comprehensible ground rules; build trust and look for common gains. Several scholars have have argued that leadership is vital as it empowers, embraces and engage the stakeholders and organize them to move ahead in the collaborative process.


Moreover, several scholars have asserted that for leadership to be effective, it must possess the three essential elements: the ability to maintain ‘technical credibility’, to ensure empowering the collaborative process to make convincing decisions and the ability to administer the collaborative process adequately.

Fifthly, sometimes when important stakeholders do not possess structural framework to be represented in a collaborative process, it turns out to be a major issue. However, this issue can be dealt with if the interests of the participants are carefully addressed. If the participants convince each other of the advantages of the substitute ideas by giving them proper reasons behind the ideas, this would help create an understanding between them. This would further, help them align their preferences about how they can attain their joint and common aspirations together (Ansell & Torfing, 2015). If the personal and collective interests of the stakeholders are fulfilled, it would facilitate the stakeholders to come to an agreement in order to achieve the objectives and strategies of the collaborative governance.

The issue related to the incentives of the participants is critical as resource and power imbalance will affect the incentives of the participants to participate in the process of collaborative governance. The incentives of the stakeholders to take part in the collaborative process party depends upon their expectations such as whether the collaborative process give them significant results against the energy and time the collaborative process requires the participants to give in such process. However, the incentives of the participants enhances if they are convinced that their participation in the process shall result in a concrete, efficient and satisfactory outcome of the policies. On the other hand, the stakeholders may decline the incentives if they notice that their input is being considered as an advice and is not being implemented (Gash, 2016).


In Collaborative governance, every individual matters in policy and the policy matters to everyone. In order to cope with the modern complex public problems, an effective collaborative effort is essential to develop policies for public welfare (Choi & Robertson, 2014). A recent example of collaborative process in Australia may be the Noosa Climate Action Plan (NCAP), which is a community-oriented plan, which is supported by variety of stakeholders. The NCAP plan is a successful collaborative planning process. The adverse changes in the weather conditions have had a significant impact on the environment and economy of Australia, especially in Queensland (Smith et al., 2015).

In order to deal with such a complicated problem as climate change, it was pertinent that both the non-state and government organisations come together to resolve the issue. Collaborative governance was recognised as one of the most effective approaches to deal with the issue. This approach laid emphasis on promotion of the rights of the community in the decision-making processes at the local level through empowerment, local knowledge, etc. It is essential that the participants realise the policy gaps between the international frameworks and the local action processes as the adaptations needs to be implemented both locally and nationally (Biddle & Koontz, 2014).

This signifies the importance of collaboration between the non-state and state organisations from the local to the national level. The NCAP action plan was successful as it succeeded in incorporating the stakeholders into a consensus-oriented and common decision-making process. The factors that attributed to the success of the NCAP plan were the increase in the incentives of the stakeholders; effective leadership; mutual respect among the stakeholders; developing trust and confidence among the participants; consensus-oriented and mutual decision-making process and fair distribution of power (Keys, Thomsen & Smith, 2016). Collaborative governance lacks accountability and therefore, the participants must trust one another and put in efforts to comprehend the demands and ideas of each other. This would enable the stakeholders to develop effective policies, addressing the concerns and demands of the various interest groups and it would help them achieve their individual goals as well.

The success of the NCAP plan as a collaborative process establishes the fact that how the involvement of both the state and the non-state actors is essential to implement an effective collaborative governance (Howes & Dedekorkut, 2016). Now, it is a well-known fact that in order to make the stakeholders come to an agreement, an effective leader plays a vital role. Apart from playing the role of a mediator, leadership is imperative for representing the weaker stakeholders in the decision-making process. Many scholars recognise this particular responsibility of a facilitative leadership as one of the mediation methods, which enables to maintain the balance of power amongst the stakeholders (Burton & Nalau, 2016).


When the incentives to take part in the decision making process is weak, the leader must intervene to maintain the stakeholders or empower the weaker actors participating in the decision making process. In case there is high conflict between the stakeholders, the role of the mediator is delegated to a person who has no interest in the consequences of the policies to maintain neutrality in the collaborative process (Bryson, Crosby & Stone, 2015). The absence of mutual trust among the stakeholders is very common at the time of commencement of collaborative governance process. The collaborative process is not about negotiation only; it is also, about how the participants develop mutual trust between themselves.

From the above discussion, it can be concluded that in a collaborative governance process it is imperative that the stakeholders develop mutual trust among themselves and a shared understanding of their collective achievements. Although the collaborative process face challenges while preparing and implementing the public policies such as manipulation of the process by the powerful stakeholders; lack of commitment by the public agencies; mutual distrust and lack of confidence among the stakeholders; but there are factors that attributes to implement an effective collaborative governance (Siddiki et al., 2015). These factors can be categorised as resource factors, stakeholder factors and organisational structural factors.

The factors related to stakeholders include participation of the stakeholders in every stage of decision-making process. An increase in the incentives of the stakeholders to participate in the collaborative process is an essential factor in the process. Further, the joint involvement of the stakeholders to share the responsibilities and resources with one another is regarded as another crucial factor (Merritt & Kelley, 2017). Furthermore, the collaborative process must include participation of the fundamental stakeholders in the collective decision-making process of collaborative governance. Collaborative governance process lacks accountability and commitment which results in fraudulent acts in the collaborative arrangements. It is essential that the stakeholders share responsibilities and resources with one another, as it would develop a mutual understanding and enhance accountability. Therefore, implementation of effective collaborative governance can be achieved if the participants in the decision–making process consensually make decisions taking into consideration the welfare and the benefit of the public.


Reference list

Ansell, C., & Torfing, J. (2015). How does collaborative governance scale?. Policy & Politics, 43(3), 315-329.

Biddle, J. C., & Koontz, T. M. (2014). Goal specificity: A proxy measure for improvements in environmental outcomes in collaborative governance. Journal of environmental management, 145, 268-276.

Bingham, L. B., & O'Leary, R. (2014). Big ideas in collaborative public management. Routledge.

Bryson, J. M., Crosby, B. C., & Bloomberg, L. (2014). Public value governance: Moving beyond traditional public administration and the new public management. Public Administration Review, 74(4), 445-456.

Bryson, J. M., Crosby, B. C., & Stone, M. M. (2015). Designing and implementing cross?sector collaborations: Needed and challenging. Public Administration Review, 75(5), 647-663.

Bryson, J. M., Quick, K. S., Slotterback, C. S., & Crosby, B. C. (2013). Designing public participation processes. Public administration review, 73(1), 23-34.

Burton, P., & Nalau, J. (2016). Public participation in the governance of metropolitan scale climate adaptation: panacea or problem?. Climate Adaptation Governance in Cities and Regions: Theoretical Fundamentals and Practical Evidence, 317-332.

Choi, T., & Robertson, P. J. (2013). Deliberation and decision in collaborative governance: A simulation of approaches to mitigate power imbalance. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, mut003.

Choi, T., & Robertson, P. J. (2014). Caucuses in Collaborative Governance: Modeling the Effects of Structure, Power, and Problem Complexity. International Public Management Journal, 17(2), 224-254.

Doberstein, C. (2016). Designing collaborative governance decision-making in search of a ‘collaborative advantage’. Public Management Review, 18(6), 819-841.

Emerson, K., & Gerlak, A. K. (2014). Adaptation in collaborative governance regimes. Environmental management, 54(4), 768-781.

Fung, A. (2015). Putting the public back into governance: The challenges of citizen participation and its future. Public Administration Review, 75(4), 513-522.

Gash, A. (2016). 37. Collaborative governance. Handbook on Theories of Governance, 454.

Guerrero, A., Bodin, Ö., McAllister, R., & Wilson, K. (2015). Achieving social-ecological fit through bottom-up collaborative governance: an empirical investigation. Ecology and Society, 20(4).

Head, B. W., & Alford, J. (2015). Wicked problems: Implications for public policy and management. Administration & Society, 47(6), 711-739.

Howes, M., & Dedekorkut?Howes, A. (2016). The rise and fall of climate adaptation governance on the Gold Coast, Australia. Climate Adaptation Governance in Cities and Regions: Theoretical Fundamentals and Practical Evidence, 237-250.

Huxham, C., & Vangen, S. (2013). Managing to collaborate: The theory and practice of collaborative advantage. Routledge.

Keys, N., Thomsen, D. C., & Smith, T. F. (2016). Adaptive capacity and climate change: the role of community opinion leaders. Local Environment, 21(4), 432-450.

Klievink, B., Bharosa, N., & Tan, Y. H. (2016). The collaborative realization of public values and business goals: Governance and infrastructure of public–private information platforms. Government Information Quarterly, 33(1), 67-79.

Margerum, R. D., Robinson, C. J., & Genskow, K. (2016). 17. The challenges of collaborative governance: towards a new research agenda. The Challenges of Collaboration in Environmental Governance: Barriers and Responses, 371.

Merritt, C. C., & Kelley, D. (2017). What Individual and Organizational Competencies Facilitate Effective Collaboration? Findings from a Collaborative Governance Simulation.

O'Flynn, J., & Wanna, J. (2013). Collaborative Governance: A new era of public policy in Australia?.

Siddiki, S. N., Carboni, J. L., Koski, C., & Sadiq, A. A. (2015). How policy rules shape the structure and performance of collaborative governance arrangements. Public Administration Review, 75(4), 536-547.

Smith, T. F., Choy, D., Thomsen, D. C., Serrao-Neumann, S., Crick, F., Sano, M., ... & Sharma, V. (2015). Adapting Australian coastal regions to climate change. CRC Press.





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