Ambition Meets Reality: Mission-Oriented Innovation Policy as a Driver for Participative Governance
2. Participatory Governance as New Mode of Local Economic Development
2.1. Role of LDAs in Implementing MIP
2.2. (Participatory) Governance
2.3. Transition Management
- Strategic: Defining long-term activities for a shared discussion on the future (e.g., formulating long-term goals).
- Tactical: Determining medium-to long-term activities, which aim at changing established structures, institutions and provisions.
- Operational: Specifying short-term activities (including experiments) to test, implement and demonstrate new ideas, practices and social relations, and
- Reflexive: Activities allowing the collective learning from the dynamics of the present system and the transition processes to the desired future system.
3. Methodology: The Case of Bottrop
3.1. Framework Conditions
3.2. Piloting Participatory Governance: The Experiment Bottrop 2018+
4. Results: Lessons from Practice
- Continuous and effective coordination of activities;
- An interface enabling collaboration between all local actors (politics, administration, intermediaries, economy, and academia);
- Keeping an overview of the sustainability strategy in Bottrop;
- The EA acting as a source of inspiration and driving force.
- Openness to change: The participatory process requires all actors to reflect critically on their current roles and associated behavioural patterns, and generally be willing to change them. LDAs must dissociate from the mentality of a service provider, and better anticipate future requirements in an everchanging economic environment. Companies have to take more responsibility, not only for their own company and its sustainability, but also for the ‘city’ as a business location, and more generally the urban society. Politicians must have the courage to approach companies and make decisions in dialogue. Only then will the change from reactive to active economic development for the benefit of companies and society, succeed.In Bottrop, this openness was only partially given. While the initial socio-economic and governance analysis revealed the willingness for change, it quickly became apparent that the STA approach is too challenging and that the openness to change requires additional efforts especially as regards firms’ added value (see factor 3).
- Common understanding: A common understanding of the objectives of mission-orientation and its rationale, is necessary. It must be clear what the vision of a ‘sustainable and resilient local economy means, or to be more precise, what is behind sustainability and resilience. Exclusively communicating knowledge derived from theory is not enough, as it remains abstract. Instead, sustainability and resilience must become tangible in everyday life, to give meaning to the multiplicity of local actors with their distinct logics and interests. Thereby enabling actors to take ownership of these terms, will allow to recognise the benefits that come with them, and consider sustainability and resilience as a goal when developing strategies or when implementing measures. That means, however, breaking sustainability and resilience down into concrete problems, and issues of concern for the actor groups involved, in a multilateral dialogue process.Within Bottrop 2018+ project multiple attempts to achieve a better understanding of sustainability and resilience were made. While the actors agreed from the beginning to the common vision, its operationalisation proved challenging. Likewise, the developed and introduced monitoring methodology was disregarded as too complex. Instead, the actors called for illustrating sustainability by good practice and specific business-related examples. Doing so, proved crucial to maintaining actors’ motivation (see factor 3).
- Motivation: Enabling such an intensive dialogue and the joint solution finding, requires a high level of motivation. The actors must recognise their personal, normative or moral benefit of participation, and thus the necessity for active involvement in shaping the local economy to classify a (permanent) commitment as worthwhile. It is essential to elaborate and communicate the specific added value for the various groups of actors, in due consideration of the multiple motives of those involved (e.g., economic or political motives). Closely related to this are problem identification and problem ownership . Actors are motivated to take part in processes and activities if they perceive them as a solution to their problems or challenges. It is essential to actively make the benefits of participation for the different actor groups visible to increase their motivation and long-term commitment.Although a common future structure has been adopted at the end of the project, in Bottrop this task is yet to be implemented. Balancing the ‘desirable’ and the ‘feasible’ emerges as continuous and dynamic negotiation process.
- Trust: It is generally accepted that trust is created through transparency, open communication, reciprocity and repeated interaction. Arguably, ab initio all instruments, mechanisms and processes require openness and clarity on the possibilities and consequences of decisions just as motives for engagement. Results from expert interviews showed that transparency and openness are ensured in Bottrop because of the good (cooperation) work with the LDA and the skills of its employees. However elsewhere, trust-building measures may be required before starting with the participatory processes.
- Avoiding parallel structures: Restructuring economic development, and particularly LDAs, does not mean starting from scratch. Instead, it is vital to begin with what is already there (e.g., existing sector-specific networks). Avoiding parallel structures is of central importance here. When it comes to involving all relevant actors, it is first necessary to clarify what activities and initiatives at a local level the actors are already engaged in, and what the relevant issues are. The aim is not to replace existing networks, but rather to strategically involve and interconnect, and in addition to that, supplement them. Participatory governance is complementary to sector-specific initiatives and aims at cross-sector and cross-structural cooperation. Parallel structures can lead to rejection or resistance to the overall process (‘everything already exists’) or groups of actors withdrawing (‘I have no more time for that’). However, it must be taken into account that not all structures are suitable for achieving the set goals. A re-evaluation of existing structures against the background of sustainability and resilience, is sensible.This factor was proven essential for Bottrop. Precisely against the background that several LDA employees did not feel included and feared replacement of their work by the new structure. It took some effort to clarify the objectives and structural differences, and to reduce resistance and gain support for the idea of participative governance.
- Space for experimentation and reflection: Development and implementation of joint strategies requires space for experimentation and reflection. ‘Space’ is understood here not only as a physical place, but also as freedom and flexibility in the processes and structures. For many actors, participation in governance processes means additional work, and it is essential to create spaces in terms of time and resources. The actors need the freedom to contribute their ideas, but also a certain degree of support in the implementation. Appropriate interface management, networking and funding can help to reduce the risk inherent in the uncertain process.In Bottrop, the experimentation space was secured through the real-world laboratories, which were appraised as a suitable instrument. Nevertheless, the demand for leadership and coordination by the LDA was also expressed in the experimentation rooms. This showed, once again, that breaking away from conventional ways of thinking and doing takes a lot of effort and time.
- Leadership: A participation process also requires leaders to take the management position, function as moderators and bridge-builders and, if necessary, push, set, track and enforce topics. This role can be taken as individual responsibility (e.g., an entrepreneur), or collectively (e.g., LDA). The actor(s) taking this role, on the one hand, have to stand out with their commitment to participatory governance and the underlying mission-orientation, and on the other hand must be broadly accepted by the local actors (e.g., reputation as a reliable partner). In Bottrop, it was not clear from the beginning who would be taking the leadership role. At the end of the project, however, it was communicated that the LDA should take the role. Besides, it must be ensured that the ‘leader’ possesses the necessary capacities, or is supported by acquiring external expertise or additional workforce. For Bottrop, this meant that the management office and the respective position, should be maintained and funded beyond the project term.
- Political commitment: A participatory approach presupposes openness of politics towards new forms of decision-making and planning, to legitimise the new governance structures, and binding nature of the decisions. Next to business, academia, city administration and intermediaries, policymakers are another actor group to be involved in participatory governance, while considering the specific logics and interests (e.g., thinking in electoral circles). Accordingly, policymakers and other political actors should be ‘persuaded’ to participate in the new local economic governance as much as the other actors.The fact that policymakers—with the exception of the major—quickly withdrew from the process and left it for the business sector to shape the EA as a platform for exchange and feedback, underpins the relevance of achieving political commitment. Decisions that entail a political consent were, however, not taken by the EA in the project term.
- Identification and activation of ambassadors: Participatory governance requires supporters, or promoters to ‘push’ the idea of participatory economic development, and to make its benefits known among the local actors. So-called ’ambassadors’, are people who have the potential to contribute to the formation of opinions at the local level, who have a good reputation, who enjoy the trust of local actors and who are perceived as reliable. They need to be identified and activated at an early stage. In Bottrop, the mayor acted as an ambassador and has accompanied and supported the entire process, which proved to be a strong motivator for all local stakeholders to participate.
Informed Consent Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|Tasks||Method||Data and/or Outcome|
|Status quo analysis: socio-economic situation and governance||Quantitative analysis of data collected official statistics (e.g., DESTATIS, it.nrw, Federal Labour Office)||Population, income, labour market development (unemployment, labour market dynamics, youth and long-term unemployment), school education and vocational training, employment trends and structures, commuter traffic, start-ups, start-up inclination, industrial development, gross added value, enterprises and turnovers, crafts businesses, (environmental protection) investments, tourism|
|Semi-structured interviews with local stakeholders including intermediaries, SWOT analysis, QCA||Perception of the existing governance structures; strength and weaknesses of the local economic development agency; chances and risks for the business location Bottrop|
|Sustainability Monitoring||Desk research, business survey, secondary data analysis||Indicator set and measurement tool, data on sustainability-related activities of local businesses|
|Communication||The project website, newsletter|
|Transition of Local Economic Development (LDA)||Balanced scorecard process||Defined vision for sustainable and resilient local economic development translated into operational goals, measures and indicators including the division of work among the involved actors|
|Scenarios||Four scenarios to sustain participatory governance|
|Semi-structured expert interviews|
|Process Evaluation||Expert focus groups||Three annual focus groups with experts from academia, city administration and local economic development; critical reflection on concepts developed and procedures applied|
|Knowledge Transfer||Final conference, networking, conference presentations, articles, integration into teaching||Ten articles, www.strukturwandel.de as a single-entry point for all produced materials, handout »10 Steps towards« (in German only), project booklet, six conference presentations, a final conference|
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Rabadjieva, M.; Terstriep, J. Ambition Meets Reality: Mission-Oriented Innovation Policy as a Driver for Participative Governance. Sustainability 2021, 13, 231. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010231
Rabadjieva M, Terstriep J. Ambition Meets Reality: Mission-Oriented Innovation Policy as a Driver for Participative Governance. Sustainability. 2021; 13(1):231. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010231Chicago/Turabian Style
Rabadjieva, Maria, and Judith Terstriep. 2021. "Ambition Meets Reality: Mission-Oriented Innovation Policy as a Driver for Participative Governance" Sustainability 13, no. 1: 231. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010231