|dc.description.abstract||Over the past several decades, the modern rational planning model has been strongly criticised for being ineffective in responding to urban challenges in both the “developed” and “developing” worlds. This model is seen as incompatible with the changing role of central and local governments, which have become more inclusive of a wide variety of stakeholders in decision-making in order to accommodate and respond to the needs of increasingly diverse societies. Consequently, more collaborative approaches have emerged which are concerned with multi-stakeholder involvement and public participation in planning and policy. Collaborative governance (CG) is one of the approaches increasingly advocated by planners, academics and theorists, where local and central government agencies aim to directly involve local communities in planning and policy making. One of the main benefits associated with a shift to more collaborative approaches is that they are more likely to build consensus, resolve conflicts and reach higher quality decision making. Many claims have been made about the benefits of this approach, but the efficacy of such approaches in practice are rarely tested empirically.
The literature raises a number of potential problems with collaborative governance and planning that need further investigation. There are a number of issues around what ‘the process’ of collaborative governance is, how this process should be conducted in ideal, as opposed to real world situations, and what the relationship is between process and the products that it promotes. These concerns form the basis of this research which analyses two housing renewal projects - one in New Zealand and one in Iran – that were described as collaborative. The research uses qualitative data obtained principally from semi-structured interviews and participant observations.
This thesis addresses four important points as theoretical contributions to the collaborative governance and planning literature. Firstly, it indicates the need to extend and expand our conceptualisation of CG to include a composite of formal and informal elements that provide varied opportunities for inclusion and alternative means of representation. Every collaborative initiative has a context and history, a present and a future that are of critical concern. I present a new set of criteria applicable to an informal ‘pre-collaboration’ stage as well as the formal ‘collaboration’ process, and the on-going activities and relationships that endure ‘post-collaboration’.
Secondly, this research indicates that CG is not an idealistic and optimistic process aiming at ‘resolving’ conflicts, ‘building’ consensus, with ‘equal power sharing’ or making a decision that is best for everyone. Rather, CG should be seen as an ‘adaptable’, ‘interactive’, and ‘pragmatic’ process.
Thirdly, this research shows that the focus on ‘implementation’ and ‘doing’ may be even more important than ‘talking’ and ‘discourse’. While much of the literature emphasises deliberation as the centrepiece of CG, implementation is rarely examined.
Fourthly, this research suggests a way of integrating and evaluating process and product given their inseparability. A ‘good’ process, which is durable, empowering and committed to ongoing relationships - and when improving the process quality is a goal in itself - it may be more likely to have broadly acceptable outputs and outcomes on the ground.||en