Collaborative Governance for public value, innovation and the role of leadership

Collaborative approaches to governance are increasingly seen as a key (and better) strategy to pursuit and promote public value. The idea is that collaboration helps public actors to craft not only more effective, but also more democratic, responsive and inclusive solutions for today’s complex societal issues (Ansell and Gash 2008; Sørensen and Torfing 2021; Termeer 2009). Collaboration is also considered to be an important driver of innovative solutions: “recent research points to multi-actor collaboration as superior innovation driver” (Torfing 2019, 1). In this course, we discuss the principles of collaborative governance and explore its potential advantages to create public value and spur public innovation, in a range of different policy domains.

At the same time, making collaborative approaches work, is challenging. It requires new and different ways of designing and guiding (public) policy processes, than traditionally is the case (Mandell et al. 2017). This is about the question of how to design collaborative arenas that capitalize the abovementioned advantages. In this course, we explore this question and elaborate on conditions to create successful collaboration. We hereby pay specific attention to the role of (political) leadership and management in shaping collaborative arenas.

In sum, in this course:

  • we position collaborative governance, its principles and advantages, in relation to traditional and new public governance paradigms;
  • we discuss how collaborative governance contributes to creating public value(s) and to spurring innovation;
  • we explore conditions that shape collaborative efforts, more in particular the role of (political) leadership and management;
  • we apply these insights in exercises in which we explore how collaborative governance can promote the realization of (one or more of) the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • we offer a platform to discuss how your own research connects (and contributes) to the field of collaborative governance (and adjacent fields).

This course intends to inform and inspire PhD-candidates that, either directly or indirectly, study collaborative ways of governing, their role in promoting desired governance outcomes and outputs, such as innovation and (other) public value(s), and/or the conditions that shape collaborative efforts.

The course consists of two days of interactive lectures and discussion sessions, under guidance of Eva Sørensen and Jacob Torfing. The third day of the course is dedicated to a workshop that explicitly focuses on connecting the content of the lectures to the ongoing research of the course participants. This day will be facilitated by Lieselot Vandenbussche.