Collaborative Governance
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Collaborative Governance. What, When, and How?. Chris Ansell Department of Political Science University of California, Berkeley.

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Collaborative Governance

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Collaborative Governance

What, When, and How?

Chris Ansell

Department of Political Science

University of California, Berkeley

Collaborative governance is about multiples: we use it to manage conflict, improve coordination, and harness creativity where we have multiple stakeholders engaged in multilateral interactions about multi-dimensional issues.

Collaborative Governance

A governing arrangement where one or more public agencies directly engage non-state stakeholders in a collective decision-making process that is formal, consensus-oriented and deliberative and that aims to make or implement public policy or manage public programs or assets.

The Desert Tortoise Steering Committee

Cities and Counties: Clark County, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas,

Henderson, Boulder City, Mesquite

Nevada State Offices: Office of Governor, Congressional

Delegation, Dept. of Wildlife, Dept. of Agriculture, Farm Bureau

Federal Agencies: Fish & Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service

Industry Groups: Summa Corp., So. Nevada Homebuilders Assoc., Joyce Advertising, Nevada Cattleman’s Assoc., Nevada Mining Assoc.

Environmental Groups: Desert Tortoise Council, TORT Group Nevada, Defenders of Wildlife, NRDC, EDF, Nature Conservancy


Exs: Natural Resource Management Disputes; Regulatory Negotiation


Ex: Social Work or Mental Health Case Management


Exs: Community health, Juvenile Justice, Crime Prevention

Conditions Favoring Collaborative Governance

1. Multiple interdependent stakeholders

2. Weak or absent hierarchy; where success depends on the voluntary commitment or investment of independent stakeholders or where stakeholder ideas or opinions are important for agenda-setting

3. Where the character of interdependence requires multilateral cooperation

4. Where the multi-dimensional character of issues requires high quality communication

Institutional Design

Antecedent Conditions

Collaborative Process



Antecedent Conditions

Institutional Design

Power-Resource-Knowledge Asymmetries

Incentives for and Constraints on Participation

Collaborative Process


Prehistory of Cooperation or Conflict (initial trust level)


Participatory Inclusiveness

Institutional Design

Forum Exclusiveness

Clear Ground Rules

Process Transparency

Starting Conditions

Collaborative Process


Institutional Design

Starting Conditions

Collaborative Process






Commitment to Process

Face-to-Face Dialogue

Collaborative Process

Intermediate Outcomes

Shared Understanding

Four Process Thresholds

(1) Stakeholders agree to “come to the table.”

(2) Stakeholders recognize other stakeholders as legitimate interlocutors

(3) Stakeholders have a commitment to the collaborative process itself

(4) Stakeholders develop a sense of “joint ownership” of the process

Ansell, C. and A. Gash. 2008. “Collaborative Governance in Theory and Practice,” JPART,

C. Ansell and A. Gash. 2012. “Stewards, Mediators, and Catalysts: Towards a Model of Collaborative Leadership,” The Innovation Journal, 17, 1.

The Desert Tortoise Case

J. Wondolleck and S. Yaffee. 2000. Making Collaboration Work. Island Press.

Thom Reilly. 1998. “Collaboration in Action: An Uncertain Process,” Administration in Social Work.

Colorado Nurse-Family Partnership

Darin Hicks et al. 2008. “The Influence of Collaboration on Program Outcomes,” Evaluation Review, 32, 5: 453-477.

Eric Johnston et al. 2010. “Managing the Inclusion Process in Collaborative Governance, JPART, 21: 699-721.

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