MIKKO RASK, TITIANA ERTIÖ
Policy Brief: The Co-Creation Radar a Comprehensive Public Participation Evaluation Model
28th of August 2019
In this report from the Tackling Biases and Bubbles in Participation (BIBU) research project, we introduce a model that municipalities, cities or other organisations can use to evaluate and develop innovations that promote civic participation.
A well-functioning democracy cannot exist without citizens who want to have an impact on society. Interest in political participation by joining political parties and voting has weakened, yet the desire to effect change remains. Citizen participation has become increasingly important in Finland, and the public sector has been tasked with developing participation opportunities for citizens.
The Finnish Government’s democratic-political action programme defines how democracy should be promoted in Finland (Ministry of Justice, 2017). The Open Government III Action Plan supports the development of open governance and of new participation channels within the framework of the International Open Government Partnership project (Ministry of Finance, 2017). The Local Government Act of 2015 supports and obliges municipalities to promote numerous opportunities for citizen participation and impact. Participation-strengthening innovations are developed both nationally and locally at municipal level to complement representative democracy, including participatory budgeting, residents’ forums and panels, partnership meetings, senior and disability advisory committees and crowdsourcing.
It is important to evaluate the effects of such new participation channels throughout the implementation process. Evaluation helps recognise areas in need for improvement and supports the quality and relevance of public participation. Only a comprehensive evaluation can establish the benefits and costs of public participation.
Often, the scope of civic participation evaluation is narrow. It reports the number of participants and details their feedback, but is only conducted ex-post. This is problematic. Public participation is about interaction and the impacts of participatory decision-making go beyond the experiences of individual participants; these impacts have also structural consequences.