Social Accountability and Open Government: Different Types of Collaborative Engagement

Florencia Guerzovich, Paula Chies Schommer

Résumé

[extract] This presentation discusses how social accountability and open government approaches can improve the provision of public goods and services through prioritizing constructive engagement. Interventions aim to bridge state and civil society actors and, potentially, to encourage co-production. Nevertheless, these efforts do not come in a one-size fits all model of collaborative engagement.

We present a typology of collaborative engagement associating different forms of engagement to four types of bridges: cable-stayed bridge, movable bridge, step stone bridge and pier. This typology results from a theoretical-empirical exercise on the interaction between context, strategy and organization. Different types of bridges explain the potential and limits of state-society engagement to tackle public policy and governance problems.

We illustrate these types with a series of local social accountability and open governance interventions in Brazilian cities, researched in 2015 and 2016. What the Brazilian experience suggests is that, in the implementation of collaborative open government and social accountability strategies, the actions (as opposed to static plans or structures) serve as bridges between components of the state and elements of the societies to which they belong. The different local political contexts where action happens, shapes and can be shaped by organizational structures and strategies that show different forms of engagement.

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