Headline: The micropolitics of collaborative governance: a power-sensitive and process-oriented perspective

Why do exercises in collaborative governance often witness more impasse than advantage? This cumulative dissertation undertakes a micro-level analysis of collaborative governance to tackle this research puzzle. It situates micropolitics at the very center of analysis: a wide range of activities, interventions, and tactics used by actors – be they conveners, facilitators, or participants – to shape the collaborative exercise. It is by focusing on these daily minutiae, and on the consequences that they bring along, the study argues, that we can better understand why and how collaboration can become stuck or unproductive. To do so, the foundational part of this dissertation (Article 1) uses power as a sensitizing concept to investigate the micro-dynamics that shape collaboration. It develops an analytical approach to advance the study of collaborative governance at the empirical level under a power-sensitive and process-oriented perspective. The subsequent articles follow the dissertation's red thread of investigating the micropolitics of collaborative governance by showing facilitation artefacts' interrelatedness and contribution to the potential success or failure of collaborative arrangements (Article 2); and by examining the specialized knowledge, skills and practices mobilized when designing a collaborative process (Article 3). The work is based on an abductive research approach, tacking back and forth between empirical data and theory, and offers a repertoire of concepts – from analytical terms (designed and emerging interaction orders, flows of power, arenas for power), to facilitation practices (scripting, situating, and supervising) and types of knowledge (process expertise) – to illustrate and study the detailed and constant work (and rework) that surrounds collaborative arrangements. These concepts sharpen the way researchers can look at, observe, and understand collaborative processes at a micro level. The thesis thereby elucidates the subtleties of power, which may be overlooked if we focus only on outcomes rather than the processes that engender them, and supports efforts to identify potential sources of impasse.

Publication Year
Publication Type
Monographs and Edited Volumes

Molinengo, G. (2022). The micropolitics of collaborative governance: a power-sensitive and process-oriented perspective. PhD Thesis, Universität Potsdam, Potsdam. doi:10.25932/publishup-57712.