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This article argues that participation and inclusion are independent dimensions of public engagement and elaborates the relationships of inclusion with deliberation and diversity. Inclusion continuously creates a community involved in defining and addressing public issues; participation emphasizes public input on the content of programs and policies. Features of inclusive processes are coproducing the process and content of decision making, engaging multiple ways of knowing, and sustaining temporal openness. Using a community of practice lens, we compare the consequences of participatory and inclusive practices in four processes, finding that inclusion supports an ongoing community with capacity to address a stream of issues.
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Journal of Planning Education and Research
31(3) 272 –290
© The Author(s) 2011
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DOI: 10.1177/0739456X11410979
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Article
In this article, we focus on the practices of organizing public
engagement and their consequences for the community capac-
ities that public engagement creates. We suggest that conflicts
regarding the utility of public engagement are frequently the
result of conflating what are actually two independent dimen-
sions of public engagement: participation and inclusion. We
define the two dimensions as follows: Participation practices
entail efforts to increase public input oriented primarily to
the content of programs and policies. Inclusion practices
entail continuously creating a community involved in copro-
ducing processes, policies, and programs for defining and
addressing public issues. Although inclusion is a term often
used to designate concerns related to marginalized popula-
tions, our use of this term expands the meaning. In a later
section of the paper, we explore the connections between
demographic diversity and inclusion.
Distinguishing participation and inclusion illuminates the
implications of different practices of public engagement for
the capacities of the community to make decisions and imple-
ment programs. Conflation of participation and inclusion
under the overarching category of “public engagement,” or
simply “participation,” muddles both the practice and theory
of organizing democratic engagement. While public partici-
pation is often a mandated part of decision-making processes,
how public participation is implemented can exacerbate ten-
sions between government organizations and members of the
public. Public bodies may go to great lengths to create forums
for the public to provide input on policy choices, only to have
the public decline to take part because they do not feel their
participation will make a difference, or protest after having
participated that the discussion was somehow inauthentic or
unsatisfactory. The consequences include participation burn-
out by well-meaning members of the public, government
organizations, and politicians (Aleshire 1970; Taylor 2003;
DelliCarpini, Cook, and Jacobs 2004; Koontz and Johnson
2004). In this article, we describe how planners, public man-
agers, or residents organize public engagement in different
ways and the consequences of those practices.
We begin with a review of key constructs from the litera-
ture on public engagement and communities of practice. We
then distinguish participatory and inclusive patterns for orga-
nizing engagement, before analyzing four decision-making
processes in a single city to elucidate features of the inclu-
sive and participatory practices and how they create different
kinds of communities. In the latter part of the article, we dis-
cuss what inclusion contributes to practice and scholarship
on public engagement, focusing on the implications of inclu-
sion for community building, deliberation, and diversity. We
conclude with the implications of this analysis for conceptu-
alizing communities of practice.
Constituting Communities
through Public Engagement
Public engagement has become a fundamental feature of the
public–government relationship (Reich 1998; Roberts 2004;
Innes and Booher 2004). The body of literature related to
practices of public engagement in planning and other public
410979JPEXXX10.1177/0739456X11410979Quick,
FeldmanJournal of Planning Education and Research
Initial submission, June 2009; revised submissions, October 2010 and
March 2011; final acceptance, April 2011
1University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
2University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
Corresponding Author:
Kathryn S. Quick, University of Minnesota, 130 Humphrey Center, 310
19th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
Email: ksquick@umn.edu
Distinguishing Participation and Inclusion
Kathryn S. Quick1 and Martha S. Feldman2
Abstract
This article argues that participation and inclusion are independent dimensions of public engagement and elaborates the
relationships of inclusion with deliberation and diversity. Inclusion continuously creates a community involved in defining and
addressing public issues; participation emphasizes public input on the content of programs and policies. Features of inclusive
processes are coproducing the process and content of decision making, engaging multiple ways of knowing, and sustaining
temporal openness. Using a community of practice lens, we compare the consequences of participatory and inclusive practices
in four processes, finding that inclusion supports an ongoing community with capacity to address a stream of issues.
Keywords
inclusion, participation, public engagement, deliberation, diversity, community of practice
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Winner of best paper award for Volume 31 of JPER.
Quick and Feldman 273
issues is immense, appearing under the umbrellas of citizen
participation, civic engagement, collaborative governance,
and inclusion and representation in democracy. A full review
of this literature is beyond the scope of this paper. We focus
on the question of how different forms of engagement, empir-
ically or normatively described in the literature, constitute
different kinds of communities. These communities may
be intentional or incidental, explicit or implicit, and exclu-
sive or inclusive. Our premise is that engagement practices
are not merely techniques to be acquired in order to organize
meetings effectively, but highly consequential choices that
shape the inherently political process of planning and pol-
icy making (Lowry, Adler, and Milner 1997; Bryson 2004).
We turn to the community of practice literature, described
below, to examine how engagement practices have different
consequences for the kinds of communities or publics con-
stituted through engagement.
Public Engagement
Most of the literature on public engagement conceptualizes
the relationships between government and other sectors in
one of two ways: as adversarial or potentially collaborative.
We utilize this lens to draw attention to the role of public–
government relationships in shaping the community of actors
who address public problems. The first approach dichoto-
mizes the roles of the public and government in bringing
about public engagement. In one vein of this literature, the
community provides the impetus for public involvement in
decision making. The government may be more or less recep-
tive, and the public may be more or less aggressive in its
insistence to play a role, but the general dynamic is from the
outside in: the public must demand a role for itself in deci-
sion making (Arnstein 1969; Alinsky 1971; Friedmann 1987;
Reardon 1998; Beard 2003). Another vein of this of litera-
ture describes people within the government who act on
behalf of the public’s interests. These include advocacy
(Davidoff 1965), equity (Altschuler 1965; Krumholz and
Forester 1990; Krumholz and Clavel 1994), and progressive
(Clavel 1986, 2010) planners who utilize their positions
within government, professional judgment, and ethical com-
mitments to address what they know of the concerns of
socioeconomically marginalized groups.
The second approach sees the relationship between gov-
ernment and the public as potentially collaborative and ana-
lyzes examples of collaboration to understand what can be
done to support and enhance them. We fundamentally agree
with this second approach, and would like to push it further.
Research on collaborative governance describes interactive
processes for making and implementing public policy or
urban or regional planning (Healey 1997; Forester 1999;
Abers 2000; Feldman and Khademian 2000, 2007; Vigoda
2002; Hajer and Wagenaar 2003; Fung and Wright 2003;
Innes and Booher 2003; DelliCarpini, Cook, and Jacobs
2004; Roberts 2004; Crosby and Bryson 2005; O’Leary and
Bingham 2006, 2009; Briggs 2008). Recent theorization of
network governance analyzes cross-boundary collaborations
within networks that include government and nongovern-
ment actors (Kettl 2002; Booher and Innes 2002; Hajer and
Wagenaar 2003; Goldsmith and Eggers 2004; Agranoff 2007;
Sandfort and Milward 2008), while some scholarship on new
public management reconceptualizes members of the public as
partners rather than as customers of government (Denhardt
and Denhardt 2000; Bovaird 2007). Public administrators
and other stakeholders are often differentiated into designer/
convenor and “participant” roles and are only sometimes
coalesced as “co-learners” (Roberts 2004) who “co-evolve”
the process (Innes and Booher 2003).
We propose that some forms of governance make use of
community capacities to improve planning and policy out-
comes in part by building community itself as a resource for
decision making. The bodies of literature just reviewed rec-
ognize the importance of collaborative engagement pro-
cesses, particularly deliberation, but often continue to reify
divisions between actors, between issues, and between pro-
cess and content in problem-solving efforts. The inclusive
practices we analyze bring those boundaries into play, building
connections among issues, among actors, and across problem-
solving efforts.
Communities of Practice
To provide insight into the significance of practices that build
community over time, this article builds on a third body of
research, the communities of practice literature. Although
community can be defined in a number of ways (geographi-
cal, demographic, etc.), through the community of practice
lens we focus on the constitutive role of practices in creating
community. Bringing theories of practice to the domain of
public engagement draws attention to the importance of pub-
lic management in enacting and changing social structures
(Healey 1997; Forester 1999; Allmendinger 2002; Feldman
and Khademian 2002; Hajer and Wagenaar 2003), including
how creating and re-creating structures of engagement con-
strain and enable different kinds of publics and forms of
engagement (Feldman 2010).
Building on Lave’s (1988) path-breaking studies demon-
strating the relationship between cognition and practice,
Lave and Wenger (1991) articulated the idea that communi-
ties can be defined by situated practices that produce distinct
ways of knowing and learning. Defined in this way, commu-
nities are not necessarily coincident with organizational,
geographical, or demographic boundaries. Communities of
practice learn and change through the practices they enact: as
long as people are engaged in practices, community is being
created, and the character of the practices defines the nature
of the community. Participation in a community is accom-
plished by learning the practices, tacit and explicit, intended
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274 Journal of Planning Education and Research 31(3)
and unintended, that make one part of a community (Lave
and Wenger 1991; Brown and Duguid 1991). Much of the
work on communities of practice has focused on learning
related to work organizations (Brown and Duguid 1991; Orr
1996; Carlile 2002; Bechky 2003; Nicolini, Gherardi, and
Yanow 2003); professional groups (Orr 1996; Yanow 2003;
Bechky 2006; Kenney 2007); workplace teams (Currie,
Waring, and Finn 2008); or occupations (e.g., butcher), iden-
tities (e.g., teenager), or venues (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous)
(Lave and Wenger 1991).
Research in planning, public management, and public
affairs has rarely drawn upon the communities of practice con-
cept. Some public management scholars describe designating
and developing a community of practice, composed of a group
with clear membership, such as a government agency, as a
strategy for enhancing internal cohesion and knowledge man-
agement (Bate and Robert 2002; Dawes, Cresswell, and Pardo
2009) or organizational capacity building (Snyder and Briggs
2004). These practices impose the idea to strengthen an
“insider” identity and bring newcomers into the group via a
reinforcement and orientation to a specified set of practices.
This is anathema to the original conceptualization of commu-
nities of practice, however, which holds that new members
and changes in practices continually reconstitute the commu-
nity such that it is not a fixed entity and there is no single
authoritative “core” set of practices (Lave and Wenger 1991;
Wenger 1998). Mandating canonical practices, “designing”
communities of practice with the intention of constituting a
certain identity, or labeling groups “communities of practice”
to solidify internal cohesion, is inimical to their vitality as
emergent entities (Brown and Duguid 1991; Orr 1996; Wenger
1998). Thus, Currie, Waring, and Finn (2008) describe explicit
efforts to establish a unified “community of practice” within a
public hospital as a misplaced strategy to create a “learning
organization.” The effort stymied shared learning by focusing
on everyone having the same knowledge rather than on creat-
ing contexts in which people practiced together and evolved
new ways of knowing through these practices.
The community of practice lens has been appropriated in
ways consistent with the original conceptualization by plan-
ning and policy scholars as a way of enhancing our under-
standing of collaboration. In forest fire management, Goldstein
and Butler (2010) distinguish “stakeholder” orientations
to addressing problems collaboratively from “community of
practice” orientations to networks organized to share profes-
sional expertise. They find that the latter offers the benefits of
serving as a forum for including a variety of forms of knowl-
edge, ongoing development of individual and collective exper-
tise, and relationship building to “amplify the potential to
address emergent problems” (Goldstein and Butler 2010,
240). McCoy and Vincent (2007) used communities of prac-
tice ideas to guide their management of collaborative plan-
ning projects, while Schweitzer, Howard, and Doran (2008)
used them to oversee a policy research project, each involving
students, practicing professionals, and experts from various
disciplines. Both teams of scholars found the framework helped
them to include a range of stakeholders, encourage interchange
among different perspectives, and use the experience as a
community-building opportunity. Feldman and Khademian
(2007) describe informational and relational practices through
which public managers build communities of practice in which
participants with political, technical, and experiential ways of
knowing may bring their knowledge to bear on public issues.
We extend the community of practice perspective to an explicit
examination of public engagement.
Defining Participation and Inclusion
Our use of the community of practice perspective enables us
to distinguish participation and inclusion by analyzing pub-
lic engagement processes as they relate to community building
over time. Scholars of “inclusive management” characterize a
pattern of practices by public managers that facilitate the
inclusion of public employees, experts, the public, and
politicians in collaboratively addressing public problems
(Feldman and Khademian 2000, 2002, 2007; Feldman et al.
2006; Feldman and Quick 2009; Feldman, Khademian, and
Quick 2009; Quick 2010). Feldman and Khademian (2007)
described inclusive practices as creating “communities of
participation.” In this article, we clarify this literature by
defining the difference between participation and inclusion,
showing the relevance of this distinction to managing pro-
cesses of public engagement.
Inclusion is not a term we have coined to describe partici-
pation that we believe has been done particularly well.
Instead, we argue that inclusion and participation are two dif-
ferent dimensions of public engagement and that organizing
public management to incorporate both enhances the quality
of the decisions reached and the community’s long-term
capacities. Specifically, participation is oriented to increasing
input for decisions. Practices for organizing highly participa-
tory processes encompass inviting many people to partici-
pate, making the process broadly accessible to and
representative of the public at large, and collecting commu-
nity input and using it to influence policy decisions. Some
practitioners might describe a process that is successful in
enhancing those practices as an “inclusive” one. We find,
however, that it is useful to distinguish two sets of patterns,
because enhancing participatory practices enriches the input
received, while enhancing inclusive practices builds the
capacity of the community to implement the decisions and
tackle related issues. Inclusion is oriented to making connec-
tions among people, across issues, and over time. It is an
expansive and ongoing framework for interaction that
uses the opportunities to take action on specific items in the
public domain as a means of intentionally creating a commu-
nity engaged in an ongoing stream of issues. The absence of
inclusion tends to reinforce divisions, for example, by
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Quick and Feldman 275
dichotomizing the “process designer” versus “process par-
ticipant” or “government” versus “public” roles.
Inclusion understood in this way is somewhat different
from the common use of the term to describe the openness of
a process to socioeconomically diverse participants. We choose
the word inclusion to describe connections made not only
among individuals’ and groups’ points of view but connec-
tions across issues, sectors, and engagement efforts. In a later
section, we address the overlap of inclusion and diversity,
suggesting some ways to enhance diversity through combin-
ing participatory and inclusive practices. In the remainder of
the paper, we use this distinction in our comparison of engage-
ment processes in order to explore why it is important to
understand these dimensions separately and to identify some
key features of inclusive processes.
Research Methods
This research is part of a long-term, continuing ethnographic
project in a single city: Grand Rapids, Michigan. Since begin-
ning research with public managers and members of the
public there in 1998, we have observed a pattern of strong
commitment to engaging stakeholders in addressing the city’s
problems. Public managers, politicians, and neighborhood
leaders have coupled this with ongoing experimentation with
the formats for public engagement. On some occasions,
all parties appear very satisfied with the opportunities and
outcomes of engagement, and at other times, there has been
indifference to or angry backlashes against efforts to involve
the public. Observing these dynamics prompted our questions
about the relationships among formats for public involvement
and the kinds of political communities they sustain.
Using the definitions of inclusion and participation above,
we mapped, along low to high participation and low to high
inclusion continua, fourteen processes that we and other
scholars have observed in Grand Rapids (Figure 1). From
this perspective, one can see that the dimensions of inclusion
and participation are independent. Some processes are both
participatory and inclusive, others are neither, and some pro-
cesses are high on one dimension and low on the other. Each
quadrant contains a number of engagement processes. The
high–low cells (high participation, low inclusion and high
inclusion, low participation) provide particularly persuasive
evidence of the distinctiveness of the inclusion and participa-
tion dimensions.
To illuminate these relationships, in this paper we com-
pare four cases (highlighted in bold), one from each quad-
rant, that together demonstrate a range of inclusive and
participatory approaches to engagement. We selected these
cases because we have particularly strong data for them and
because our study participants consider them exceptional.
The Master Plan has “almost been elevated to sainthood sta-
tus in terms of process and inclusion” by people in Grand
Rapids (Ian, city government manager, October 25, 2006).1
Conversely, the Indian Trails decision was vehemently
decried as undemocratic. The other two cases are contrasting
Figure 1. Public engagement processes mapped on the dimensions of participation and inclusion
Sources: Carron et al. 1998; Kadlecek 1996; LaMore and Supanich-Goldner 2000; Robinson 2006; Feldman and Quick 2009; Quick 2010; Logan, n.d.;
authors’ ongoing fieldwork
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276 Journal of Planning Education and Research 31(3)
approaches to addressing a city budget crisis that has gar-
nered intense, prolonged attention from many quarters.
Following a thick description of each case, we compare their
practices for organizing public engagement and the conse-
quences for building community to show how participation
practices differ from inclusion practices.
This analysis draws on data from more than one hundred
interviews with forty-six study participants, including four-
teen city government employees and thirty-two members of
the public, composed of representatives of neighborhood and
business organizations, consultants, nonprofit foundation
staff, elected and appointed city officials, and individual resi-
dents. We used a theoretical sampling strategy (Glaser and
Strauss 1967) through which we sought participants with
knowledge of and opinions, both positive and negative, about
the engagement processes we were studying. Participants
were identified through references from other study partici-
pants, observing community meetings, and reviewing meet-
ing minutes and media coverage. They were then invited to
participate and interviewed by one or both authors, in person
or by phone, primarily individually but occasionally in
groups. We conducted confidential, unstructured, active
interviews (Holstein and Gubrium 1995; Spradley 1979) in
which we engaged the study participants not only in accounts
of what they observed or experienced, but in sharing their
interpretation of those events. They expressed and explained
their opinions or feelings about a process or event, compared
it with others, and suggested what might have been done bet-
ter. In addition, between 2001 and 2010, one or both authors
made eleven visits to the city, toured Grand Rapids with city
staff and community organizers, and observed seven commu-
nity meetings or events related to the four cases, as well as ten
additional meetings that were related to follow-up processes
ensuing from these cases. We reviewed records of community
participation (e.g., committee meeting minutes, compilations
of data from public input), government documents (e.g.,
plans, budgets, project proposals, staff reports), community
organizations’ websites, and media coverage of these events.
Data were then analyzed using standard coding, categorizing,
and memoing techniques (Glaser and Strauss 1967; Strauss
and Corbin 1990; Emerson, Fretz, and Shaw 1995; Lofland
and Lofland 1995).
Three features of these data and the broader research proj-
ect through which they were collected are particularly impor-
tant for this analysis. First, the data are longitudinal, allowing
us to follow events over long periods of time, pursue new
lines of inquiry that emerge during the research, and take a
process-based view (Mohr 1982; Eisenhardt 1989; Van de
Ven 1992; Sewell 1996; Langley 1999). Second, to a large
extent, they provide us with an insider, or emic, perspective
(Goodenough 1970; Geertz 1973; Miller and van Maanen
1979; Agar 1986). For example, ten of the forty-six study
participants in this study subset have been interviewed six or
more times over many years and have enriched this analysis
by providing their own comparisons among the four pro-
cesses. Third, the data provide us with many different perspec-
tives, allowing us to triangulate among various interpreta tions
of the processes and events (Denzin 1978; Altheide and
Johnson 1994; Janesick 1994; Yin 2003). Together, these
features allow us to generate thick description, enhancing
the validity of our interpretive analysis and inductive the-
ory development (Glaser and Strauss 1967; Geertz 1973;
Kirk and Miller 1986; Lin 1998; Locke 2001; Yanow and
Schwartz-Shea 2006).
The Cases
Grand Rapids is a Midwestern American city with an esti-
mated population size in 2009 of 193,700 in a metropolitan
region with a population of more than 1.2 million. The
state’s second largest city after Detroit, it plays an increas-
ingly important role in Michigan’s economic, social, and
political development, and its economy and population have
grown relative to the state as a whole. Manufacturing domi-
nated the local economy through the 1990s, but recently
there has been large-scale private investment in medical
services and research. Charitable foundations established by
local families support human services, recreation, and cul-
tural programs and facilities (Garcia 2009). In the 2000
national census, 67 percent of residents identified them-
selves as white, 20 percent as African American, and 13
percent as Latin. Approximately 10 percent were foreign-
born, and more than 50 percent had moved to their current
residence within the previous five years. Less than 25 per-
cent of adults had a bachelor’s degree and 16 percent lived
below the poverty level.
The city electorate has repeatedly affirmed a council-
manager form of government in which the city manager plays
a central role in allocating and managing the city’s budget
and human resources (Zeemering 2010). One city manager
held the position from 1988 to 2008, overseeing a manage-
ment team that has, for over a decade, actively invited public
input and fueled public capacity to engage in city decision
making. Although the processes and results of public engage-
ment have varied, generally there is a mutual desire and
expectation for community involvement in governance among
the public, city government, and elected officials (Feldman
and Quick 2009). We now describe four engagement pro-
cesses in the city, in chronological order.
High Participation and High Inclusion:
The Master Plan2
Grand Rapids updated its Master Plan starting in 2001 and
completed the process the following year. The process oper-
ated within strict financial constraints, firm deadlines, and
legal guidelines. The update involved broad-based engage-
ment of residents, nonprofits, and businesses and was funded
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Quick and Feldman 277
by a local foundation and the city. It was the first master plan
for the city in nearly four decades. Politicians and planners
working behind closed doors had produced the previous ver-
sions. This time, however, the process involved hundreds of
community meetings and engaged approximately three thou-
sand members of the public. Planners, politicians, neighbor-
hood organizers, members of interest groups, and neighbo rhood
residents worked side by side to discuss what kind of neigh-
borhoods they wanted and how to create them.
The mayor appointed a Master Plan Steering Committee
composed of thirty-one persons, suggested by a variety of
sources, representing diverse interest groups:
They looked for stakeholders that were visible in their
parts of the community and asked them to take an
active role in making sure that if someone is not at the
table, that person or that group of persons had been
identified and invited. There are still many voices not
speaking, there are many chairs at the table that are
still empty, and there is still much more work to do,
but it cannot honestly be said that the city has not
made an effort to rectify any deliberate hidden agen-
das. (Patsy, Steering Committee member, September
10, 2001)
City staff and consultants helped the Committee map out
the process and organize the public meetings. The Committee
served as the primary decision maker during the thirty-month
process, however, hiring the consultants and deciding how to
proceed:
It would be very easy for [the city staff] to say,
“Look, we’re the people who know how to do this.
Here’s what we suggest and you probably ought to go
along with it.” They aren’t doing that at all. They are
willing to give us opinions, but they are not putting
themselves into the process. They said from the begin-
ning, “Look, this is your committee, this is your mas-
ter plan, we’re here to advise and help.” And they have
stuck with that. (Todd, member of Master Plan
Committee, September 7, 2001)
The Master Plan process began with opportunities for
community participants to bring their experience of the city
environment to the process, contributing insights about their
neighborhoods, commutes to work, and parts of the city that
they wanted to protect or improve. This experiential knowl-
edge was translated into visual displays in which types of
neighborhoods, levels of neighborhood density, and kinds of
business districts were provided. As later discussion focused
on how to solve specific problems, a website that depicted
transitions was used to show a variety of different ways of
approaching these problems. At each community meeting,
participants redrafted a set of policies for particular land uses
that the community indicated were high priorities, such as
green space in the central city.
Planning staff or consultants began each meeting with a
brief description of the bigger project and the work done to
date, to show people how their work was shaping the process
and outcomes and to orient newcomers so that they could
participate. They disseminated a road map of the process to
help people understand how the parts fit together, which they
updated and redistributed periodically to reflect new content,
additional meetings, and records of the number of meetings
or persons who had participated so far. More than 120 small
group meetings were held at different times and locations
around the city. The process unfolded in five phases, each
accompanied by newsletters, videos, website updates, and
press releases about progress to date and the upcoming top-
ics and opportunities to be involved. A citywide community
forum, attended by 150 to 300 people, was held to launch
each phase, act on the knowledge already gathered, and decide
on next steps.
Throughout the process, the community provided infor-
mation, the planning staff and consultants would use the
community’s input to come up with a series of ideas, and
then everyone would meet to evaluate whether they had got-
ten it right yet:
I think [city staff and consultants] struck a nice bal-
ance with getting people’s input where it counts, like
asking, “What kind of city do you want to be in?” And
then saying, “Okay, this is the kind of city you told us
you want. Here’s how we can do it. We’re bringing
this back to you to find out if this is where you want
to go and how you want to get there.” It gives a lot of
buy-in for people who may not even have participated.
(Todd, September 7, 2001)
The process changed as it went along in response to the com-
munity’s engagement. For example, in early meetings, residents
articulated concerns about the quality, character, and compati-
bility of development that could arise from different land use
designations made through the master plan. Noticing the fre-
quency of these comments, the planning staff and consultants
suggested that development guidelines might be a good way to
engage questions about what different kinds of permitted devel-
opment would be like. Community members agreed, and the
planning staff and consultants updated the Master Plan scope
and process flow diagram to insert a series of additional, parallel
discussions about development guidelines to help elaborate par-
ticular aspects of the plan. On the basis of initial meetings about
the guidelines, the process differentiated again to take up two
complementary approaches: (1) development guidelines that
visually depicted and spelled out in additional detail how to
implement some of the most substantial changes being pro-
posed, such as a new mixed-use land use category, and (2) pre-
liminary land use plans and concept sketches for four locations
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278 Journal of Planning Education and Research 31(3)
generally understood to need change. Stakeholders responded
to these plans, and their positive and negative reactions to test-
ing out how the proposed changes could be implemented led to
iterative revisions. The development guidelines were adopted in
the Master Plan, which also included draft land use plans from
three neighborhoods where local businesses and residents had
reached agreement.
The Master Plan was finished on time and within budget.
The mood of the fifth and final community meeting, titled
“It’s a Plan!” was celebratory, with staffed information sta-
tions, the plan document and maps on display, and posted
images and inspiring quotations about what the community
had accomplished and still could do. People milled about
visiting with one another, until the chair of the Master Plan
Steering Committee addressed the crowd, making it clear
that input was still welcome:
I am proud of the committee and proud of this project.
From the outset this was a community based process,
and it still is a community based process. If you’ll look
at the plan book here, you see that unobtrusively, down
in the corner, on the right side, it says “DRAFT.” So,
we’re still looking for input tonight. However, we do
hope, because the process has been community based
both in concept and in execution, that this plan does
truly reflect the will of the community. (Jack Hoffman,
September 12, 2002)
Backed by strong community support, the Master Plan
sailed through City Commission approval. The process that
the Master Plan task had set into motion, however, was not
ended. With their increased capacity and interest in planning
issues, the community embarked on a process of rewriting
the zoning ordinances to implement the Master Plan. Although
the city’s planning department could have rewritten the
document relatively quickly, instead they organized another
public process in which staff worked together with hundreds
of residents on the details of zoning definitions and zoning
maps. In this step, participants translated the visioning of the
Master Plan into the new domain of making difficult choices
among trade-offs over permitting higher or lower density in
different land use classifications, and over possible land uses
for each area of land. The zoning ordinance was adopted in
2008, and an update of the Master Plan, focusing on environ-
mental stewardship ideas raised by the public, was com-
pleted in 2010. Relationships built through the Master Plan
process have sprouted out into new areas of cooperation,
reenergizing a citywide affordable housing coalition, spur-
ring joint planning among adjacent residential and business
associations (Jenna, foundation staff member, June 22,
2005), prompting six neighborhoods to produce their own
area-specific plans. In sum, the process raised community
expectations and skills for engagement (Kyla, neighborhood
organizer, June 24, 2005; Joe, city government manager,
August 11, 2006; Will, city government manager, August 11,
2006; Ian, October 25, 2006), creating a culture in which
“residents expect and want to be involved in decision mak-
ing, and city staff and city commissioners want residents’
involvement” (Rachel, city government manager, July 25,
2007). A participant later commented:
After the Master Plan process, this community now
understands that the City will listen and that this is
powerful stuff, and so they recognize that we have an
opportunity to have some input here so let’s do it.
(Frank, neighborhood business association organizer,
December 16, 2004)
A designer of the Master Plan process explained that build-
ing the community connections and knowledge to move for-
ward into other issues had been an explicit objective:
What we did with the Master Plan and I believe with
the zoning ordinance is 50/50: 50 percent of the suc-
cess of the project is the process, and 50 percent is this
great document. Neither one overpowers the other, but
in the process you get that whole social dynamic
that you’re trying to get to, that community wisdom
about a specific topic that they can talk about in an
intelligent way and talk about to others in the com-
munity, and then that will also guide their decision-
making process. And then you have this great document
that is the institutional memory for the process and is
a reference for communities to help remember what
they discussed and be able to apply it through policy
decisions. (Rachel, August 14, 2007)
When city managers were organizing a community pro-
cess to update the Master Plan five years later, they invoked
the “50/50” rule in another form: about 50 percent of the peo-
ple involved in a process should have been involved in prior,
related efforts while the other 50 percent are newcomers. The
goal of this approach is to build community in an ongoing
way, providing opportunities for people who have been
involved in previous efforts to continue working on their con-
cerns from different perspectives, to sustain their relation-
ships with one another, to make use of their knowledge of
issues and capacities to work together, and to continually
bring in new participants and fresh perspectives that “help the
group think in different ways” (Rachel, September 5, 2007).
High Participation and Low Inclusion:
The Budget Survey
Within two years of the Master Plan’s completion, the City
began to address severe budget pressures due to declining
local income taxes and revenue sharing from the state. In
the year beginning July 1, 2004, it lost $30 million from its
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Quick and Feldman 279
$120 million General Fund, the most flexible portion of the
total city budget. For the following year, the City anticipated
an additional $11 million cut that would result in a cumula-
tive loss of 25 percent of the city’s total workforce from its
2002 levels. Because they already felt in touch with many
of the engaged residents of Grand Rapids due to the Master
Plan and other outreach efforts, and because of their con-
cerns about the impact of the budget decisions on city ser-
vices, the city’s senior government managers felt the need
to go beyond the number of people who would care enough
and be able to attend a community meeting to “the silent
majority” who would not attend (Will, August 11, 2006). They
saw a survey as a way of obtaining scientifically representa-
tive information that would give them “a clear idea about
citizens’ priorities about the budget, to know what outcomes
they value the most” (Ian, October 25, 2006).
In early 2005, the survey team administered an anony-
mous telephone survey to 759 randomly selected Grand
Rapids households, asking respondents whether they would
prefer that the city stop, reduce, maintain, or increase fund-
ing for forty-two services. They then advertised four open
meetings around the city. The 132 people who attended those
meetings worked through a set of paired budget allocations
in which they had to decide, for example, whether commu-
nity services or operating parks was more important. They
used remote control devices to record their individual prefer-
ences, which were aggregated and projected back to the
group on a screen. The voting took up to ninety minutes, and
the city’s management team organized the gatherings so that
there would be no discussion until the voting was complete.
The meetings were a “raucous” process (Ian, October 25,
2006), with people frequently protesting loudly, “You can’t
choose between those two!” One participant reported, “The
tension in the room was intense, to say the least. One guy
threw down his remote and refused to pick it back up” (Ben,
neighborhood organizer, October 20, 2006).
Using the telephone survey and meeting data, the survey
researchers ranked residents’ priorities for services. The
city managers proceeded to “budget according to those
results” (Ian, October 25, 2006), interpreting the lowest
ranked services as the first places to cut expenditures. In
May 2005, the city commissioners adopted the budget by a
vote of five to two, but some community members vocifer-
ously protested that the surveys did not represent the com-
munity’s real priorities. People were angry about the
ranking system and some of the specific budgeting alloca-
tions that it produced. With regards to the process, one par-
ticipant explained,
People couldn’t speak their own mind about what they
thought about stuff. If a choice wound up being one of
the bottom ones, it seemed like you were giving an
okay to cut it, and people weren’t very comfortable
with that. (Ben, October 20, 2006)
And an organizer from a neighborhood where the public
swimming pools were closed protested, “Anybody who’s vot-
ing to close pools is not a person who lives around or with
children in a neighborhood. These rules have been made on a
different level” (Jen, neighborhood organizer, May 10, 2006).
Neighborhood groups organized a series of alternative
public forums to facilitate what one described as more
“authentic” input. Instead of “pigeonholing” people into
either–or budget allocation choices (Ben, October 20, 2006),
they invited the public to think about what should be dis-
cussed in the budgeting process and how. They educated
themselves and the public about how the city budget works,
and tried to “flip-flop” the discussion away from viewing
the city as a “charity case” and “taking away what was least
important” and toward “building a city that is attractive
to people” (Paula, community resident, May 31, 2006; Ben,
October 20, 2006). Based on their recommendations, the
City Commission agreed to a few changes in the content of
the budget, including reinstating the public pools.
Low Participation and High Inclusion:
Citizen Budget Advisors3
The next phase of the budgeting story began a few months
later, as the city anticipated that another $11 million in bud-
get cuts would be required for the year beginning July 1,
2006. The senior managers and commissioners acknowl-
edged the unhappiness with the previous year’s process
and outcomes, and in the fall of 2005 appointed a group of
Citizen Budget Advisors to advise the city manager on the
public participation process and specific budget recommen-
dations. The people asked to serve were the most vocal crit-
ics of the budget survey. Senior city government managers
explained that move in a broader context, telling us, “It is
kind of our m.o. [modus operandi] to take the loudest com-
plainers and bring them inside the tent” in order to “afford
and give them responsibility” for helping to resolve the con-
flict (Will, August 11, 2006) and to “arm them with better
information” to generate better options together, or, if the
oppositional dynamic cannot be changed, to have a “better
fight” that is more productive (Joe, August 11, 2006).
Ironically, the Advisors decided against additional public
outreach. The twenty-one individuals who agreed to serve
were diverse in terms of place of residence, income, race, eth-
nicity, affiliations (community resident, business owner, neigh-
borhood organization or other nonprofit staff, etc.), and opinions
about appropriate uses and sources of city funds (Gabriel, May
8, 2006; Karen, May 10, 2006; Alicia, May 11, 2006; Fred,
May 31, 2006, all Citizen Budget Advisors). For example, they
were divided in their feelings about raising city taxes, support-
ing labor unions, and subsidizing recreation for low-income
residents. The Advisors decided they could achieve deeper
deliberation and produce better decisions if they have in-depth,
repeated, deliberative conversations among themselves than if
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280 Journal of Planning Education and Research 31(3)
they used their energies and time on organizing other public
forums. They dismissed the facilitator appointed by the city,
appointed their own chair, and branched out into smaller groups
to brainstorm options. Between their meetings they conferred
with their contacts in the community, returning to the group to
work through options together, frequently coming up with new
ideas and positions.
Very early on, the Advisors turned aside from the expected
path of making line-by-line budget recommendations.
Someone posed the question, “What kind of city do you want
this to be?” and the Advisors and government managers
reoriented their work around that question. As one partici-
pant explained, “We could have argued about which pool to
close forever, but asking ‘Do you want our kids to have a
pool?’ was an answerable question that let us move on”
(Carla, October 11, 2006). From a three-inch binder full of
budget information that city staff gave them at their first
meeting, within four months the Advisors had stripped their
analysis down to a ten-page final report that laid out “foun-
dational considerations” for how to think about the budget,
supplemented with suggestions about just a few budget
items. Their final report, released in March 2006, provided
input for the immediate budget decisions as well as future
budget discussions by emphasizing broad principles for
thinking about how to use the city budget, such as promoting
social equity, building long-term community assets, and tak-
ing a long-term view of budgeting priorities and constraints.
The city’s senior managers accepted the Advisors’ author-
ity to dismiss the facilitator. They changed tracks from sup-
plying voluminous packets of budgeting information to
providing tailored responses to Advisors’ questions. They
redirected their technical support toward helping the Advisors
to draft their position statement. The city managers then took
the Advisors’ final report to heart, referencing the guidelines
in their budget and making several specific cuts in accor-
dance with them, including measures they otherwise found
inadvisable or painful. An example is laying off members of
the senior management team, which they disagreed with
because of the value they received from their work and found
uncomfortable because of their personal relationships (Will,
August 11, 2006). In June 2006, the city commission adopted
the proposed budget by a vote of five to two and with a mini-
mum of controversy.
Like the Master Plan process, this budget process was
the immediate predecessor of additional public processes.
Through this process, it became apparent that neither the
Advisors process nor any single budgeting cycle could
resolve the tendency for the budgeting constraints to “take a
meat axe” to parks and recreation (Will, August 11, 2006).
Consequently, the city commissioners and manager launched
the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Parks and
Recreation to look at options to preserve these amenities.
Several of the Advisors became members of this commis-
sion, which began meeting biweekly in November 2006,
produced a final report in March 2007, and helped to launch
Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, a nonprofit organization that
today partners with the city to advocate for and provide
resources to support parks and recreation programs.
Low Participation and Low Inclusion:
Indian Trails Golf Course4
Our fourth case took place fifteen months after the Advisors
process concluded and three months after the Blue Ribbon
Commission produced their final report, as the city was fac-
ing ever-increasing budget pressures. It involves the possible
sale of Indian Trails, a city-owned, no-frills golf course
known for its affordable fees and short wait times. Golfers
who are low-income or nonwhite are most likely to choose
Indian Trails among the courses in the area, and the local
newspaper’s editorial team noted, “If ever there was an
‘everyman’ course, Trails is it” (GRP June 25, 2007). It is a
popular area for hiking and winter sports among the resi-
dents of the adjacent neighborhoods, which include many of
the lower-income areas of the city (Mac, January 22, 2009;
Tonia, March 9, 2009, both neighborhood residents).
Members of the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on
Parks and Recreation asked during their meetings for more
information about “rumors” of a possible sale of Indian Trails,
voicing concerns that it would be controversial and short-
sighted to give up the green space and community amenities
it provides. Reassured by city staff that it could not happen
without a public vote, they declined to consider the option any
further and did not even recommend a public discussion of
selling Indian Trails in their final report (BRCPR minutes
November 20, 2006, December 18, 2006, January 22, 2007).
Nonetheless, three months later, a proposal to seek a buyer of
the facility suddenly appeared on the city commission’s meet-
ing agenda without even a twenty-four-hour public notice.
Apparently acting on faith in the mayor’s goodwill and judg-
ment in placing it on the agenda (Teresa, community activist,
June 24, 2008), commissioners barely discussed the item
before voting seven to zero in favor of the proposal to spend
up to $100,000 to market the property.
A huge public outcry ensued. Commissioners received
“an avalanche of calls and e-mails from irate residents”
(GRP June 25, 2007). Community activists and the editorial
board of the local newspaper promptly decried both the sale
idea and the decision-making process (GRP June 25, 2007),
which some senior city staff had been trying to slow down to
allow public discussion (GRP June 26, 2007). People objected
to the sale because the community uses Indian Trails, and
because closing it seemed elitist. Critics protested that the
decision was reached hastily, without community delibera-
tion. The Indian Trails proposal had not arisen out of any
systematic review of public assets for possible sale, and fur-
thermore was inconsistent with the overarching review of
parks and recreation policy that the Blue Ribbon Commission
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Quick and Feldman 281
had just concluded. The proposal’s hasty timing and incon-
sistency with previous discussions damaged community
trust, prompting residents and the press to speculate whether
the mayor had some “hidden motive” in proposing the sale
(Grand Rapids forum of urbanplanet.org, June 2007; Rachel,
June 25, 2008; Ira, June 26, 2008; Rich, nonprofit staff mem-
ber, March 5, 2009).
Features and Consequences
of Inclusive Practices
The varying community reactions to experiments with
different approaches to public participation—ranging from
enthusiastic engagement to vehement criticism—led us to
analyze how the different processes were enacted. In par-
ticular, we were motivated to understand how the Citizen
Budget Advisor format, a process involving only twenty-one
critics, could be accepted as more participatory than the
budget survey involving 759 randomly selected households.
Furthermore, community conflict over the process and deci-
sions declined at the same time that financial shortfalls in the
city budget became more acute. In trying to understand
this puzzle, we compare the practices for organizing pub-
lic engagement in our four cases.
Engagement Practices in the Budgeting Processes
The budget processes are particularly interesting to com-
pare as they are on the same topic. The Advisors process
represents a very different way of creating and supporting
community than is often enacted in community engagement
processes. The survey is more typical, constituting a kind of
public hearing in which people were asked to express their
opinion, in favor or against, on a prescribed set of issues
and policy options. In contrast, the Advisors did not engage
in a broad-based public engagement process but instead
used a small group setting to make connections across
diverse interests and concerns. The members were not for-
mally representing different positions in the way that
weighted voting or some stakeholders designs might do.
Instead, they utilized time between meetings to check in
with their individual connections with groups within the
community, and then in meetings they engaged their diverse
views to explore new opportunities. They did not work on a
prescribed agenda or refine a particular course of action
proposed to them by city staff but rather iteratively rede-
fined the problem, their process, and their recommenda-
tions as they went along.
Three features of the Advisors’ practices reconstituted
connections between roles, among people, across issues, and
over time:
1. They engaged multiple ways of knowing. They
expanded the vocabulary of their discussion to
focus not on whether the budget should provide
funding for pools or any other item but on the
broader discussion of “What kind of city do you
want Grand Rapids to be?” They engaged various
scales and vantage points on the problem, deliber-
ating about prioritizing budget allocations among
specific line items for the next year, fiscal man-
agement for long-term solvency, and broad prin-
ciples about how the city budget could support their
desired vision for the community.
2. All parties coproduced the process and content
of their decision making. The Advisors reframed
the mission of their group from overseeing pub-
lic engagement to being the venue for public
engagement. To accomplish that change in their
mission, they changed their process, firing their
facilitator. They modified their relationship with
public managers from providing input to city
managers to being partners in redefining the
budgeting problem and policy options. Together,
Advisors and staff produced decision guidelines
for enhancing community assets. This was a
different kind of decision outcome from the rec-
ommendations about line item budget allocation
that the public managers originally expected. In
sum, the Advisors’ input altered the problem,
process, and roles for decision making and policy
outcomes.
3. They sustained temporal openness. By enlisting
the most vocal critics of the previous process, the
conveners and participants in the Advisors process
acknowledged the importance of past discussions.
At the same time, they explicitly created an agenda
for future work on a problem that they could not
adequately address given their scope of work and
time frame, namely, the long-term sustainability
of parks. Their recommendations took the form of
guidelines for decision making about that year’s
and subsequent years’ budgets rather than a set of
decisions for that budget year.
These features of the Citizen Budget Advisor process
were not found in the Survey process. The Budget Survey
had a great deal of input but provided little opportunity for
people to make connections across issues, among differ-
ent perspectives on the budgeting choices. The Budget Advisor
process had less input but provided more opportunity for
understanding the connections among a broad array of issues
and perspectives and for connecting these various ways of
understanding the problem to produce new understandings
and opportunities for action.
The Master Plan process shares with the Budget Advisors
process these three features for allowing and encouraging
participants to make connections:
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282 Journal of Planning Education and Research 31(3)
The Master Plan engaged multiple ways of know-
ing, encouraging those involved to bring varying
values, perspectives, and ideas to the discussion.
Providing a glossary of planning terms at meet-
ings, for example, removed barriers to understand-
ing and allowed planners to take responsibility
for orienting newcomers and nonplanners to use-
ful planning concepts. This was done to create a
space for people to exchange different ways of
knowing, not to require everyone to use planning
terminology.
The coproduction of the process and content of
decision making in the Master Plan is illustrated
by the introduction of a parallel, complementary
effort to develop design guidelines. The idea for
the guidelines emerged from questions in the
early stages of the master plan process about how
different options for the plan would look and
feel. The design guideline work for visualizing
and playing with master plan options helped the
participants to make choices about the master
plan and extended its work further into imple-
mentation.
The temporal openness of the Master Plan is exem-
plified by the side-by-side “It’s a Plan!” / “It’s a
draft” messages of the final community meeting.
It affirmed that the plan—building the city—was
an ongoing project, requiring broad-based involve-
ment and openness to new ideas as implementation
of the plan took place. These features of the inclu-
sive practices supported a community who would
implement plans into the future. Indeed, residents,
developers, planning staff, and planning commis-
sioners continued for years to bring dog-eared cop-
ies to meetings as a reference for what they are
trying to accomplish in terms of planning outcomes
and as a reminder of the work they have done
together and the relationships through which they
implement the plan.
From this perspective, then, we formulate the answer to
our question about why the Citizen Budget Advisors format
was accepted as more participatory than the Budget Survey:
the Advisors’ process was not more participatory but rather
more inclusive. The Master Plan process was inclusive as
well as participatory, while the Indian Trails decision mak-
ing was neither. Inclusive practices display the following
features: engaging multiple ways of knowing, coproducing the
process and content of decision making, and sustaining tem-
poral openness. The processes organized in inclusive ways
supported developing communities in which people defined
public issues jointly and continuously and developed pro-
cesses for addressing them. We characterize these as inclu-
sive communities.
Inclusion and Community Satisfaction
Why is inclusion an important enhancement to engagement?
The connection-building features of inclusion build com-
munity in ways that commonplace forms of public partici-
pation do not. The community of practice research helps us
to see that all practices create communities, but they create
communities of different kinds. Practices used in public
decision processes can create communities in which people
feel excluded. Perhaps they are left out of decision making,
or even those who do participate may feel atomized from
one another or disconnected from the decision making because
their input does not seem to be valued. The survey practices
used in the budget survey produced this kind of community
even though the intent was quite the opposite. By contrast,
practices can create communities in which people feel
included. The participants are brought into relationships
with one another and their input has a meaningful impact on
decisions. The Budget Advisors process and the Master Plan
clearly produced this sense of inclusion.
One of the most appealing consequences of inclusion is
that, among our four cases, processes with high inclusion
produced more satisfaction and approval in the community
than the processes with high participation, which tended
to suffer from burnout and ill will. In these cases, enhanced
inclusiveness was a more dominant driver than enhanced par-
ticipation to increasing the public’s sense of the legitimacy
of a process and its outcomes. Figure 2 ranks the four
engagement processes we presented in this paper according
to how much community satisfaction was expressed with
how the proposal was developed for city commission action.
We rely on three indicators of satisfaction: the community
responses when the proposal came before the city commis-
sion, reaction in the local press, and opinions expressed to
us during interviews. By these indicators, the high inclusion
processes were viewed more favorably than the low inclu-
sion processes.
Figure 2. Community satisfaction with the public engagement
processes, with rankings and arrows showing the flow from least
to most satisfaction
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Quick and Feldman 283
The three features of inclusive practices contribute to the
increased satisfaction with these processes. We opened the
paper by pointing to the burnout, fatigue, and conflict that
result from many engagement processes. Inclusive pro-
cesses’ third feature, temporal openness—not “finishing” the
process once and for all—seems to reduce participation
fatigue and burnout. While this may at first seem paradoxi-
cal, we suggest that those in inclusive processes receive clear
feedback that their input is meaningful, since they are effect-
ing changes in both process and content as they go along.
Closure may not be reached on all of the important issues
raised in a process, but sometimes the process provides a
home for unresolved issues by setting up subsequent delib-
erations to pick them up. They are building a community in
which they are not merely invited to be at the table but they
also do work together, including deciding policies, imple-
menting programs, and identifying future work to sustain
and make use of the relationships and knowledge they have built.
Inclusive practices allow participants to experience the cre-
ation of a problem-solving community as well as the accom-
plishment of specific tasks or goals, resulting in a greater
sense of satisfaction.
With regards to the first and second features of inclusive
management, engaging multiple ways of knowing and
coproducing process and content, the budget survey was
criticized as inauthentic because of a sense that public offi-
cials had predetermined the decision points and outcomes of
the budgeting process through asking “pigeonholing” ques-
tions. This resulted in public anger and lack of trust. By con-
trast, the Advisors’ process, with less participation but more
inclusion, involved the Advisors and managers in redefining
the questions and sequence for their decision making. This
process met with overwhelming approval and legitimacy,
increasing the sense among citizens that public officials are
listening and working with the community. Similarly, the
Master Plan process changed to incorporate design guide-
lines, reflecting interests and perspectives that citizens intro-
duced to the consulting and professional team. Such
coproduction of process and content, reflecting multiple
ways of knowing, yields higher satisfaction because it allows
the community to see how their engagement is making a dif-
ference and encourages continued engagement.
Inclusion and Cooptation
In considering community satisfaction, we must assess the
possibility that community members are simply being paci-
fied or co-opted in an inauthentic process (Arnstein 1969;
Flyvberg 1998; Briggs 1998; Cooke and Kothari 2004). In
the Advisors’ process, which brought the most vocal critics
of the city’s budgeting efforts into a process that was orga-
nized and would be certified by the city government, there is
ample evidence that the public was not pacified or co-opted.
The city managers followed the Advisors’ recommendations
even when they disagreed on the basis of their professional
expertise or found the requests personally difficult. The
managers explained they had intentionally “armed people
for a better fight” over contentious issues by encouraging as
much information sharing and discussion of different views
as possible and by recruiting the most vocal critics of bud-
geting choices “into the tent” to work through options. These
are strategies for making conflict and difference productive,
not making them go away (Czarniawska-Joerges and Jacobss on
1989; Czarniawska and Joerges 1996; Eisenhardt, Kahwajy,
and Bourgeois 1997; Feldman and Quick 2009).
A public engagement process that simply reproduces the
power of particular stakeholders—as the budget survey rein-
forced the city managers’ and commissioners’ discretion over
the budget and the Indian Trails case gave the commissioners’
sole decision-making authority, for example—is not inclu-
sive. Indeed, we would not characterize any process that
addresses difference by avoiding or silencing dissent as inclu-
sive. Instead, inclusive processes actively engage difference
to stimulate exploration and generate new understandings.
They may involve co-optation in the original sense—“a pro-
cess of absorbing new elements into the leadership or policy-
determining structure of an organization as a means of
averting threats to its existence” (Selznick 1949, 13)—that
is not about averting difference but rather about maintaining
the stability of the institution. Stability may still be important,
but the “institutions” stabilized in inclusive processes are the
frameworks for an emergent process of community building
rather than the power of a given organization (Quick 2010).
The importance of having built a community is that the com-
munity members move forward using their differences, in a
productive rather than a fractious way.
Implications of Distinguishing
Participation and Inclusion
In the following, we explore the relationship of our definition
of inclusion—making connections and building communities
and other understandings of inclusion in engagement. We
discuss why we believe that distinguishing participation and
inclusion is important to understanding the potential and
limitations of deliberative processes as well as to creating
more diverse engagement in public processes.
Inclusion and Deliberation
Deliberation is commonly advocated as a mode of public
involvement engagement in order to engage diverse perspec-
tives in public decision making. Our theorization of inclu-
sion shares with scholarship on deliberative democracy an
emphasis on deliberative processes. They are a way of defin-
ing the public interest as an alternative to discerning it
through the aggregation of individual interests through vot-
ing or other mechanisms (Rawls 1971; Dryzek 1990;
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284 Journal of Planning Education and Research 31(3)
Fishkin 1993; Benhabib 1996; Reich 1998; Young 2000;
Fung and Wright 2003; Gutmann and Thompson 2004).
Deliberative processes enlist communicative or collabora-
tive rationality (Habermas 1984; Healey 1992; Fischer and
Forester 1993; Verma 1996; Innes and Booher 1999, 2010),
generating a broader sense of the public interest or public
value (Moore 1995; Mansbridge 1999; Abers 2000; Bryson
2004; Crosby and Bryson 2005; Grant 2008; Nabatchi,
forthcoming), relationships for policy implementation (Innes
and Booher 2003; Feldman and Khademian 2007), apprecia-
tion for others’ perspectives and new understandings of policy
options (Fischer 2000; Feldman et al. 2006; Bryson, Crosby,
and Bryson 2009), and broader recognition of resources
(Feldman and Quick 2009). Our analysis supports the use of
deliberative practices but suggests they would be more fruit-
ful if they were incorporated as part of inclusive processes.
The differences in orientation become more evident if we
analyze the differences between deliberation and inclusion
with respect to our three features of inclusive practices.
Deliberation and inclusive practices are most similar with
respect to our first feature of inclusive practices, engaging
multiple ways of knowing. Deliberation is often engaged
specifically because of its ability to bring disparate ways of
knowing to bear on a particular decision process. Because it
does not also emphasize altering the process and sustaining
temporal openness, however, deliberation is limited in the
extent to which it can build community unless it is incorpo-
rated in an inclusive process. Without the community-build-
ing aspects of inclusion, we argue that it is harder for
deliberative processes to succeed in the pursuit of engaging
multiple ways of knowing.
In relation to our second feature of inclusive practices,
coproducing process and content in response to input, delib-
eration typically engages the parties involved in coproduc-
tion of content, namely, the definition of the issue and policy
and programmatic options to address it. Deliberation tends
to distinguish government/designer and citizen/participant
roles in terms of process, however (Innes and Booher 2004;
Roberts 2004). We suggest that having designated “designers”
and “participants” reinforces boundaries between the parties,
confining opportunities to build connections that are impor-
tant to building community capacity for ongoing policy-
making work. Separating the control of process and content
also fails to tap the generative possibilities of engaging them
side-by-side. Healey (2003, 110-11) warns that when plan-
ners predetermine the optimal decision-making process for
communities, they “miss the power of a process mode to
change the way things go,” since she recognizes content and
process as “co-constituted, not separate spheres.” Scholars
have suggested that the benefits of coproducing content
through deliberation include enabling new ways of under-
standing problems and discovering new policy options
(Fishkin 1993; Reich 1998; Abers 2000; Fischer 2000;
Young 2000; Gutmann and Thompson 2004). Coproducing
content and process in response to one another may be even
more beneficial in uncovering policy opportunities.
In relation to our third feature of inclusive practices, sus-
taining temporal openness, this is not necessarily a feature of
deliberation. Common forms of deliberation for policy
making—including National Issue Forums (Gastil and Dillard
1999), citizen panels (Crosby, Kelly, and Schaefer 1986),
deliberative polling in person (Fishkin and Luskin 2005) or
online (Evans-Cowley and Hollander 2010), public agenda
forums (Yankelovich 1991), planning charrettes (Thomas
2006), and community meetings on urgent policy issues
(Weeks 2000)—are self-contained, not organized to create
connections over time and issues outside the immediate scope
of the deliberation. Collaborative arrangements for adap-
tive management of resources, in which the participants
iteratively define the problem together, decide on policies, and
share responsibility for ongoing implementation (Innes and
Booher 1999, 2010; Butler and Goldstein 2010), are delib-
erative forms that incorporate the temporal openness charac-
teristic of inclusion. Adaptive management arrangements
tend to be composed of agencies and other stakeholders with
a specified responsibility for or interest in the resource, rather
than being open to broad participation by any individual who
might be interested in the topic.
Inclusive processes are organized on a rolling basis to
incorporate previous and emerging issues and participants.
Inclusive processes have discrete decision-making pieces—
a Master Plan, a zoning ordinance revision, or a budget pro-
posal, for example—but phases make way for the next effort,
and managers actively pick up information, people, and
energy from prior efforts—the budget survey, for example—
to seed subsequent processes. This provides ways for the
community to sustain and create resources that are valu-
able for community-based problem solving, including
relationships, community attention to issues, and knowledge
(Feldman and Quick 2009). An inclusive “way of knowing”
a public policy problem is an ongoing accomplishment that
must be sustained through the “continuous renewal of asso-
ciations” among parties and perspectives (Feldman et al.
2006). Similarly, creating connections to build a community
of engaged participants with a capacity to inform and imple-
ment policy making is an ongoing project. Governance and
civic culture are involved in this transformation. Healey
(2004) suggests that governance, undertaken reflectively, is
entirely capable of creatively transforming its own capacities
in such ways, while Briggs (2008) describes several partici-
patory decision-making efforts around the world that build
“civic capacity” to make policy choices and sustain forms of
working together, inside and outside government arenas.
Thus, inclusive practices are not an alternative to delibera-
tion but one of the possible tools for deliberation. The orienta-
tion is different if deliberation is placed in the context of an
inclusive process. While the quality of public deliberation is
sometimes measured by how the decision “sticks” when it
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Quick and Feldman 285
comes to implementation (Moynihan 2003; GrisezKweit and
Kweit 2007), when deliberation is part of an inclusive orienta-
tion, the emphasis is less on whether a particular program or
policy sticks than on building a community that can work
together to adapt to implementation challenges and pick up
new issues. This is not about a community sticking together in
terms of maintaining their unity behind a policy, but rather their
sustaining a platform for ongoing deliberation and dialogue.
Inclusion and Diversity
Our use of the term inclusion to describe a set of practices
that bring a broad range of issues, sectors, perspectives, and
forms of engagement into play is potentially confusing because
it does not coincide with the commonplace use of inclusion
to refer to the demographic diversity of participants that
scholars of democratic theory have alternately espoused
(Verba and Nie 1987; Galston 1995; Gutmann 1995) and
critiqued (Kymlicka 1995; Young 2000; Parekh 2002;
Mansbridge 2003). Our use of the term may be misread as
being dismissive of diversity. Instead, we see the distinction
between participation and inclusion as a way of focusing
attention differently on diversity. Ely and Thomas (2001)
have noted that an organization’s ability to manage conflict
and sustain benefits from workplace diversity is enhanced
by the expansion from a “discrimination-and-fairness” to an
“integration-and-learning” paradigm. Similar benefits may
be reaped from multiplying frameworks for diversity in pub-
lic engagement processes.
We argue that participation and inclusion are different and
complementary ways of engaging diverse populations. A mix-
ture of approaches enhances the democratic legitimacy of a
process through diverse representation and facilitates innova-
tion through learning from different perspectives. Together,
they orient processes both to enhance the diversity that is pres-
ent and to benefit from diverse perspectives in decision mak-
ing. Understanding diversity as having inclusion and
participation angles enables a richer understanding of represen-
tation in public engagement processes. Practices for increasing
participatory representativeness center on optimizing accessi-
bility of the process so that input can be more diverse. These
practices include providing language translation, child care, or
transportation assistance, and choosing convenient meeting
times and places for various constituencies.
While it is important to have diverse voices at the table,
these practices and a participation orientation to diversifying
a process may be insufficient or even counterproductive
without a complement of inclusive practices. The inclusive
practices that enable participants to define the problem and
develop the process iteratively and interactively help to
make use of participatory diversity by incorporating learning
and change in response to diverse input and making connec-
tions among diverse perspectives. We do not suggest that
inclusive or participatory practices are a better approach to
diversity. Rather, we suggest that attention to both the par-
ticipation and inclusion dimensions is important for engag-
ing diversity and that there is great potential for future
research on how features of inclusion can be used to increase
the impact of having diverse voices at the table.
Inclusion and Communities of Practice
Our cases illustrate a particular form of the coproduction of
practices and community in which community building is
both means and end. This contrasts with other forms of pub-
lic engagement, such as what Arnstein (1969) characterizes
as “non-participation,” in which practices also create a com-
munity, but it is a community of citizens alienated from
government. Since with or without intending to “build com-
munity,” engagement practices do create communities, it is
important to be thoughtful about the consequences of differ-
ent forms of engagement.
These cases also demonstrate why it is important that a
community of practice be emergent, with loosely and itera-
tively assembled cores:
There is no place in a community of practice desig-
nated as “the periphery,” and, most emphatically, it has
no single core or center. (Lave and Wenger 1991, 36)
This may be said of a community constituted around any
practice. The problem of the periphery specifically in an
inclusive community of practice is not to help newcomers
overcome barriers in order to participate in a core set of prac-
tices but to orient all participants to manage boundaries in
continuously open-ended ways in order to keep the commu-
nity expanding. This orientation accelerates learning and
momentum by not only recognizing that there is no circum-
scribable limit of any community of practice, but by specifi-
cally encouraging and enhancing its expansiveness. Practices
oriented to expanding connections constitute a community
that seeks new members, new understandings of public
issues, and new opportunities to act together. Sufficient time
and iterativity in the process allow these connections to
develop in ways that one-time consultations and forums
focused on single issues do not.
We have characterized the distinguishing features of inclu-
sion as an orientation to coproduction and open-endedness,
and we suggest that practices of inclusion must themselves
be open-ended, oriented to reinventing their own means and
ends rather than to a formulaic set of methods, required ele-
ments, or sequencing of steps (Brown and Duguid 1991; Orr
1996; Wenger 1998). Therefore, we explicitly do not suggest
that the best way to develop a vigorous community of
engagement is through a particular set of best practices for
engagement. Just as public comment practices have led to
perfunctory and unsatisfactory forms of engagement, today’s
more innovative techniques for organizing engagement
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286 Journal of Planning Education and Research 31(3)
(e.g., dot voting, consensus conferences, focus groups), if
applied formulaically, can also stultify participation and
learning. Attending to making ever-expanding, open-ended
connections is an example of intentionality without formu-
laic application. Simply having people at the table does not
produce a community of practice, nor does inviting people to
be included in a “community of practice.” As we described at
the beginning of the article, such strategies tend to exclude
potential participants and to stymie learning and innova-
tion, both of which are contrary to the purposes of public
engagement.
Instead, inclusive practices involve creating community
through sharing practices, bringing together what in other
contexts might be different “cores”—such as different sec-
tors or types of expertise—and creating together a moving,
changing combination of them. To accomplish this, organiz-
ers of public involvement manage these processes in ways
that allow participants to coproduce the practices through
which they develop ways of addressing issues and become a
community in which these practices take place. While key
engagement practices are often initially introduced by public
managers or consultants launching a process, these practices
are not coincident with individuals or formal positions within
the community of practices. Indeed, the inclusive practices
in our cases become available for others to implement as
they are enacted and create community through this avail-
ability. Inclusion is not an end state, but a continuous pro-
cess, like the continuous process of building a democratic
community through ongoing inquiry (Dewey 1927; Dryzek
1990; Schneider and Ingram 1997; Flyvberg 1998). The
vitality of an inclusive community requires continuous
expansion of its periphery.
“Participation builds community” is a common axiom in
practice and scholarship about public engagement. We suggest
that “inclusion builds community” is a more appropriate thesis
and that understanding the distinction allows us to organize
public engagement differently in order to build community.
Engaging multiple ways of knowing, coproducing the content
and process, and sustaining temporal openness are key fea-
tures of inclusion that contribute to the building of community.
Iterative discussions of content and process over time, in con-
trast with single-issue or single-meeting approaches to pubic
engagement, allow participants in inclusive processes to
revisit and revise their questions and approach, to track how
processes and issues change over time, and to expand com-
munity by creating more connections among issues and par-
ticipants. The expansiveness of the community constituted
through inclusion is one of its defining features. Rules of
thumb for valuing process and outcome or for balancing new-
comers and old-timers represent ways of focusing attention
on the expansive nature of inclusion. Paradoxically, the
cohesion of an inclusive community depends on its not being
a static collection of persons or practices.
Conclusion
Our article draws attention to the salient distinctions between
inclusion and participation in engagement. It introduces the
community of practice lens for analyzing engagement, iden-
tifies key features of inclusive practices, and suggests what
inclusion may add to existing models of interactive engage-
ment such as deliberation. We argue that attention to inclu-
sion as a distinctive set of practices is both a theoretical
imperative for scholars and a practical advantage for plan-
ners and other managers of public processes. Practically, the
variety of public issues, communities, time frames for deci-
sion making, and goals for engagement call for a range of
approaches. Distinguishing the dimensions of inclusion and
participation can help those involved to design engagement
to suit those different parameters, to reduce conflict over
divergent expectations by communicating the intentions and
mechanisms for engagement in terms of participation and/or
inclusion orientations, and to enhance the benefits of engage-
ment by incorporating both orientations.
Managers who have been successful in launching inclu-
sive public engagement have designed open-ended processes
that provide ample, ongoing opportunities for participants to
redefine the “what” and “how” of the problems they are try-
ing to address. Key practices in inclusive processes can be
identified, but our research indicates that it is a pattern of
practices and how they are enacted, rather than discrete meth-
ods or techniques, that make a process inclusive. Attention to
the ways in which practices enable participants to become a
community of participants with connections to one another
as well as to the problems that they identify and engage
allows planners and public managers to reap the benefits of
inclusion as well those of participation.
Acknowledgments
We thank the study participants who generously contributed their
time and insights. We appreciate the incisive suggestions of the
editors of JPER, the three attentive and helpful reviewers, and
Michel Anteby, Jesse Baker, Scott Bollens, Candice Carr Kelman,
Pierre Clavel, Nicole Doerr, Heather Goldsworthy, Patsy Healey,
David Holwerk, Helen Ingram, Sang-Tae Kim, Francesca Polletta,
Mike Powe, Francesco Rullani, Monica Worline, Mark Zbaracki,
and audiences providing commentary on presentations of this work
at the University of California, Irvine, University of Minnesota,
University of Buffalo, and University of Albany, and at confer-
ences hosted by the Public Management Research Association,
European Group on Organization Studies, Association of Colleges
and Schools of Planning, and Urban Affairs Association. We grate-
fully acknowledge logistical support from Giulietta Perrotta and
Mary Maronde.
Authors’ Note
This study is an equal collaboration between the two authors.
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Quick and Feldman 287
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect
to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support
for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: We
gratefully acknowledge the support of the Kettering Foundation,
the National Science Foundation (Grant 0712876-0013144000).
We also thank the Center for Organizational Research, Center for
the Study of Democracy, and the Newkirk Center for Science and
Society, all at the University of California, Irvine, for funding
support.
Notes
1. All study participants are identified by pseudonym and, the first
time they appear in this account, by role.
2. The details of the process are foregrounded in the preface
and Chapter 1 of Plan Grand Rapids, available at http://www
.grand-rapids.mi.us/index.pl?page_id=634. Other details in this
description are drawn from meeting observations, interviews,
other sections of the plan, outreach materials, meeting minutes,
and media coverage.
3. The Advisors’ final report, meeting agendas, and meeting minutes
may be found at http://www.ci.grand-rapids.mi.us. Other details
in this description are drawn from interviews and media coverage.
4. The Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Parks and Recre-
ation’s final report, meeting agendas, and meeting minutes may
be found at http://www.ci.grand-rapids.mi.us/index.pl?page_
id=4990. Other details in this description are drawn from inter-
views, the Grand Rapids Press (abbreviated GRP), and other
media coverage.
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Bios
Kathryn S. Quick is an assistant professor in public and nonprofit
management and leadership at the Humphrey School of Public
Affairs, University of Minnesota. Her research and teaching focus
on how public and nonprofit managers may create opportunities for
communities to come together to address public problems and on
boundary work in integrative leadership.
Martha S. Feldman is the Johnson Chair for Civic Governance
and Public Management and Professor of Planning, Policy and
Design, Political Science, Management, and Sociology at the
University of California, Irvine. She has written four books and
dozens of articles on the topics of organization theory, public man-
agement, and qualitative research methods.
at Serials Records, University of Minnesota Libraries on August 27, 2011jpe.sagepub.comDownloaded from
... How immigrants perceive their influence on collaborative governing bodies is especially important because immigrants often lack meaningful representation at all levels of government (Nishishiba, 2012;Riccucci & Van Ryzin, 2017). Research has suggested that the practice of appointing immigrants to local boards and commissions increases their influence on policymaking and can encourage them to seek higher office (Hafer & Ran, 2016;Quick & Feldman, 2011;Ramakrishnan & Lewis, 2005). However, without actual changes in body practices related to culture, the diversity celebrated by much planning literature will remain stuck at the input phase of participatory processes, thereby limiting who participates in the decisionmaking phase. ...
... Despite their potential, urban governance processes often do not achieve collaborative participation for underrepresented individuals, especially during deliberation, because there are rarely structures in place to mitigate power differentials among participants (Fung, 2003;Quick & Feldman, 2011;Smith, 2009). As our findings suggest, one way to reduce these power differentials is to focus on the body's culture. ...
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... We concur with Quick and Feldman [2011], who favor public endeavors to engage in problem-solving. Inclusion also implies that someone has been excluded in the past, but now, they may bring new actionable knowledge to problem-solving. ...
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Emerging artificial intelligence (AI) applications often balance the preferences and impacts among diverse and contentious stakeholder groups. Accommodating these stakeholder groups during system design, development, and deployment requires tools for the elicitation of disparate system interests and collaboration interfaces supporting negotiation balancing those interests. This paper introduces interactive visual "participation interfaces" for Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) and collaborative ranking problems as examples restoring a human-centered locus of control.
... This is especially important for immigrant communities, which lack meaningful representation at all levels of government (Nishishiba, 2012). Their involvement in decision-making bodies can serve as an alternate way for them to influence policy and outcomes (Hafer & Ran, 2016;Quick & Feldman, 2011). Feminist scholars (e.g., Bacchi, 2009;Fraser, 1990;Harding, 2005;Young, 1987) have argued that expanding the landscape of who engages in the public sphere also expands the field of topics deliberated and the real-life ways problems are framed and potentially solved. ...
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... Inclusion and representation are a term often used to infer concerns related to marginalized population. Yet, [65] suggest that these are different dimensions of public engagement and locating them under the overarching category of 'participation' muddles the theory and practice engagement. For example, the constitution has clear language ensuring the representation of marginalized communities like women and Dalits, for example. ...
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Despite years of legally mandated public engagement for transportation planning, there is often little evidence that this results in more equitable processes or outcomes. Recently, there has been interest in improving engagement by having community-based or advocacy groups design, lead, and implement public engagement activities. This research examines two separate engagement processes—one led by a public agency, and one designed and carried out by community advocates—to understand the opportunities and barriers for community-led engagement in transportation planning. We assess how these processes differed in: (1) representation of equity-deserving groups in respondents, (2) conceptualization of equity and community needs, and (3) transportation priorities identified in the surveys. While neither process fully reflected city demographics, the community-led process was more representative of equity-deserving groups. We found key differences in priorities between the community- and agency-led surveys, and by respondent identity. Areas that were identified as a high priority in the agency-led survey, such as traffic congestion, were lowly ranked in the community-led survey, as respondents prioritized safety and lower fares. Critically, community- and agency-led processes used substantially different framings of transportation equity, along with different understandings of community needs and experiences, which could have a significant impact on the development of future transportation plans. Community-led strategies require significant resources and capacity to undertake, but meaningful participation in the design and implementation of engagement processes has the potential to better engage a diversity of perspectives and reflect community priorities.
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This study examines the dialectic of metropolitan spatial stratification during the era of civil rights in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Focusing primarily on the color of space, this dissertation challenges conventional notions of de facto metropolitan development and illustrates how the construction of segregated space in Grand Rapids materialized not as a natural result of housing migration patterns, but instead as a consequence of discriminatory structural forces combined with a firm pattern of white hostility. In an effort to reexamine conventional narratives of northern metropolitan postwar expansion, this dissertation chronicles the two main areas of housing and schools, in tandem, with additional consideration to black uplift, civil rights issues, and the black freedom struggle. By examining rampant structural barriers and active efforts by white individuals to confine minorities to a circumscribed geographical location within the central city, this study reveals how Grand Rapids evolved as a city within a city with a black core and a white periphery. The postwar reshaping of the American metropolis represented a moment of historical possibility to reduce racial anxiety, but in the end it caused the opposite effect. In short, this dissertation conceptualizes space as a racial category that is actively constructed and reconstructed by individuals within the confines of specific structural mechanisms, which ultimately produced a landscape of inequality.
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In 1983, Boston and Chicago elected progressive mayors with deep roots among community activists. Taking office as the Reagan administration was withdrawing federal aid from local governments, Boston's Raymond Flynn and Chicago's Harold Washington implemented major policies that would outlast them. More than reforming governments, they changed the substance of what the government was trying to do: above all, to effect a measure of redistribution of resources to the cities' poor and working classes and away from hollow goals of "growth" as measured by the accumulation of skyscrapers. In Boston, Flynn moderated an office development boom while securing millions of dollars for affordable housing. In Chicago, Washington implemented concrete measures to save manufacturing jobs, against the tide of national policy and trends. Activists in City Hall examines how both mayors achieved their objectives by incorporating neighborhood activists as a new organizational force in devising, debating, implementing, and shaping policy. Based in extensive archival research enriched by details and insights gleaned from hours of interviews with key figures in each administration and each city's activist community, Pierre Clavel argues that key to the success of each mayor were numerous factors: productive contacts between city hall and neighborhood activists, strong social bases for their agendas, administrative innovations, and alternative visions of the city. Comparing the experiences of Boston and Chicago with those of other contemporary progressive cities-Hartford, Berkeley, Madison, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, Burlington, and San Francisco-Activists in City Hall provides a new account of progressive urban politics during the Reagan era and offers many valuable lessons for policymakers, city planners, and progressive political activists.
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Today's public managers not only have to function as leaders within their agencies, they must also establish and coordinate multi-organizational networks of other public agencies, private contractors, and the public. This important transformation has been.