Critical Reflections on Interactive Governance
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Critical Reflections on Interactive Governance

Self-organization and Participation in Public Governance

Edited by Jurian Edelenbos and Ingmar van Meerkerk

In many countries, government and society have undergone a major shift in recent years, now tending toward ‘smaller government’ and ‘bigger society’. This development has lent increased meaning to the notion of interactive governance, a concept that this book takes not as a normative ideal but as an empirical phenomenon that needs constant critical scrutiny, reflection and embedding in modern societies.
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Chapter 19: Interactive governance and the limits of knowledge co-production

Arwin van Buuren, Mike Duijn, Gerald Jan Ellen and Bouke Ottow


Chapter 19 by Van Buuren, Duijn, Ellen and Ottow deals with knowledge co-production in interactive governance settings. The authors focus on the extent to which actors can achieve ‘negotiated knowledge’, knowledge that is generated, shared and accepted by various actors in the interactive governance arena. However, Van Buuren et al. claim that knowledge co-production is anything but easy. It is hindered by the presence of deep cleavages between the domain of experts, policy-makers and stakeholders/citizens, who use different ways of knowing and different criteria to assess the relevance of knowledge. In their chapter Van Buuren et al. explore and reflect on the limits and limitations of knowledge co-production. They build on three cases from the Dutch water and soil management and climate adaptation policies. A key limitation is that negotiated knowledge from interactive arenas is often not carefully interlinked with formal decision-making procedures, and therefore hampers impact. Van Buuren et al. conclude their chapter by reflecting upon the question of how policy-makers and managers can deal with such limitations of knowledge co-production.

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