Participation unpacked: participants' perceptions of its meaning and scope

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The concept of “participation” has become a buzzword in contemporary public governance models. However, despite the broad and significant interest, defining participation remains a debated topic. The aim of the current study was to explore how participants perceived and interpreted the meaning and scope of participation.

This study is part of a four-year (2019–2022) longitudinal research project investigating stakeholder participation in the context of developing and establishing a strategic regional plan in Region Skåne in southern Sweden. The research project has a qualitative approach and uses interviews with different stakeholder groups such as municipal politicians and public officials and a survey as empirical material.

The authors developed a participation spectrum including eight types of participation: to be open, to be informed, to be listened to, to discuss, to be consulted, to give and take, to collaborate and to co-create. The authors also identified four different purposes of participation: creating a joint network, creating a joint understanding, creating a joint effort and creating a joint vision. The spectrum and the purposes were related through four characteristics of participation, i.e. involvement, interaction, influence and empowerment.

Research limitations/implications
The study rests on a single case, and so the results have limited transferatibility.

Researching participation in terms of the participants' perceptions contributes a new perspective to the existing literature, which has commonly focussed on the organizers' perceptions of participation. Moreover, in order to clarify what participation meant to the participants, the study puts emphasis on untangling this from the why question of participation.
Sidor (från-till)1-19
Antal sidor19
TidskriftBaltic Journal of Management
StatusPublicerad - 2023-dec.-22

Nationell ämneskategori

  • Ekonomi och näringsliv (502)


  • Participatory governance models
  • Public participation
  • Stakeholder participation
  • Typology of participation


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