PARTICIPATORY INSTITUTIONS. Circulations, Scales and National Frameworks


Circulations, Scales and National Frameworks


Brian Wampler (Boise University)

Gilles Pradeau (GIS Participation)

Joseph-Désiré Som-1 (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Université Sorbonne Paris Cité)


Effective decision-making processes are increasingly linked to participatory governance as a new democratic imperative (Baiocchi & Ganuza, 2016). However, when some local governments adopt participatory institutions, the actual implementation of these innovative processes reveal different, and often contradictory, goals. Participatory governance embraces a variety of tools that seems to compete among each other in order to solve public problems (Petric, 2012; Wampler, 2014; Fung, 2015; Cabannes & Lipietz, 2015). Within participatory governance, there are differing emphasis on deepening democracy, improving deliberation, using new technologies to improve citizens’ access and, importantly, as a “good governance” techniques.  This section seeks to better understand the spread and adaptation of participatory institutions.

A large part of the literature suggests that participatory tools travel thanks to international organizations (Porto de Oliveira, 2017) and public participation professionals (Mazeaud & al., 2016; Bherer, & al., 2017; Wampler & Hartz-Karp, 2012), and foster venues where “international civil servants”, “internationalised public sector official” and “transnational policy professionals” could meet and learn from each other (Stone 2017). The literature also shows that decentralization is a framework for the very definition of local policies, which are related to diffusion mechanisms:  learning, emulation, and competition. New research strategies could help to understand why some tools contributing to successful policies could fail to travel as standardized solutions (Dunlop & Claudio, 2013; Gilardi, 2016).

This session calls for papers that focus on the circulation of public participation professionals and participatory logics, as they dialogue with different scales of public administrations officials as well as different moments of state-building (Som-1 & De Facci, 2017).

We look forward to receiving papers that focus on the following issues:

  1. How participatory ideals are traveling?
  • Do participatory institutions create new types of legitimacy for public and private bureaucracies?
  • The issue of scale: How effective are participatory institutions when they are established via national legislation, constitutional norms, and other top-down incentives?
  • To what extent are participatory institutions contributing to democratize bureaucracy?
  • What is the tension between PIs as radical democratic institutions and governance tools?  To what extent are the radical democratic elements present
  • When and where do we see the standardization and (non-)reception of similar terms and strategies (empowerment, participatory planning, third-sector economy,…)? When and where are governments reinventing existing participatory institutions and when are they creating new institutions?
  1. Circulation of professionals and activists
  • What explains the development of different an epistemic community around participatory institutions? What are the functions of a national network of cities?
  • Policy learning and failure to learn: what do public participation professional learn from policy failure? How organizations are evaluating processes and promoting standards through lobbying or certification?
  • Are profit and non-for-profit organizations shaping participation with different goals?
  1. What tools are traveling?
  • Diversity of reception of digital tools and their adaptation (i.e., Loomio, Consul,
  • The deliberative turn of constitution-making
  • South-south cooperation and adaptation of different program rules


Baiocchi, G. & Ganuza, E. (2017). Popular democracy: the paradox of participation. Standford (Estados Unidos: Standford University Press.

Bherer, L., Gauthier M., & Simard L. (2017). The Professionalization of Public Participation. London: Taylor and Francis, 2017.

Cabannes, Y. & Lipietz, B. (2015). The Democratic Contribution of Participatory Budgeting, Working Paper Series 2015, No.15-168, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Dunlop, C. & Radaelli M. (2013). « Systematising Policy Learning: From Monolith to Dimensions ». Political Studies 61, no 3 (2013): 599‑619. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-9248.2012.00982.x.

Fung, A. (2015). Putting the Public Back into Governance: The Challenges of Citizen Participation and Its Future. Public Administration Review. DOI:10.1111/puar.12361

Gilardi, F. (2016). Four ways we can improve policy diffusion research. State Politics & Policy Quarterly 16(1): 8–21. DOI:10.1177/1532440015608761

Marsh, D. & Sharman, J. (2009) « Policy Diffusion and Policy Transfer », Policy Studies, 30 (3),  p. 269-288. DOI:10.1080/01442870902863851

Mazeaud, A.,  Nonjon  M. &, Parizet,  R. (2016), « Les circulations transnationales de l’ingénierie participative », Participations, 1/2016 (N° 14), p. 5-35.

Petric, B-M. (2012). Democracy at Large: NGOs, Political Foundations, Think Tanks and International Organizations. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Pogrebinschi, T. (2013). « The Squared Circle of Participatory Democracy: Scaling up Deliberation to the National Level ». Critical Policy Studies 7, no 3 (2013): 219‑41. doi:10.1080/19460171.2013.805156.

Porto de Oliveira, O. (2017), International Policy Diffusion and Participatory Budgeting, Palgrave, 2017.

Som-1, De Facci, D. (2017). La démocratie au concret : les enjeux politiques et territoriaux de la mise en place du Budget Participatif dans la Tunisie post-Ben Ali (2011-2016), L’Année du Maghreb, 16/2017.

Stone, D. (2017). Partners to Diplomacy: Transnational Experts and Knowledge Transfer Among Global Policy Programs. In The politics of expertise in international organizations: how international bureaucracies produce and mobilize knowledge. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY: Routledge.

Wampler, B., & Hartz-Karp J.(2012) « Participatory Budgeting: Diffusion and Outcomes across the World ». Journal of Public Deliberation ( no 2 ). Available at:

Wampler, B.(2014) « Contentious Politics and Participatory Democracy in Brazil ». Política & Sociedade 13, no 28 (2014): 199‑224. DOI: 10.5007/2175-7984.2014v13n28p199


The International Conference on Policy Diffusion and Development Cooperation aims to bring together local and international participants. Since this is an international event, those wishing to participate in the plenary discussions will require a minimum level of fluency in English and only submissions in English will be accepted.

Only proposals presenting research findings will be eligible. Applicants must be at least in the latter stages of study for a Masters in order to present at the sessions.

Undergraduate students are invited to present their research as a poster.

Abstracts of proposed papers and posters are due by 15 November 2017. All applicants will be notified by 15 December 2017. Complete papers are due by 1st April 2018.

Submissions can be done here.

International Conference on Policy Diffusion and Development Cooperation

16-19 May 2018 Sao Paulo-Brazil