This paper examines the means (processes and structures) and ends (objectives and outcomes) of a community engagement initiative in a Swedish kommun (local government). Whilst community engagement initiatives that allow degrees of citizen participation in government decision making are part of a growing rhetoric and practice in local governments worldwide, there are gaps in our knowledge of what the real effects are on service delivery decision making, the sustainability of government, and the capacity of citizens and the community. A research framework is developed in this paper to provide a way of conceptualising, interrogating, and story-boarding the means and ends of an engagement initiative. The citizen panel engagement initiative which is explored in this case study appears to operate mainly as an “ideas machine”-in which the public acts as citizen experts (rather than as customers) in ways that produce high levels of learning that translate to changes in decision making, government capabilities, and community capacity.
|Keywords:||Learning, Local Government, Sweden, Citizen Panel, Community Engagement, Organisational Change, Citizen Participation|
Senior Lecturer, School of Accounting and CTSR, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Professor, School of Public Administration, University of Gothenburg, Gotheburg, Gothburg, Sweden
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