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Alison Gash

Collaborative governance has come to represent for many policy-makers, managers and community members an elixir to the “business-as-usual” approach to policy-making which privileges hierarchy and order over inclusion and innovation. Believers in and proponents of collaborative governance tout its flexibility, creativity and demand-driven orientation towards policy and program development, as well as its adherence to the values of deliberation and transparency. Despite a widespread belief in the power of collaboration to solve society’s ills, however, we know little about what collaborative governance is, how it works and whether it lives up to its promise. This chapter provides a summary of the salient questions and theories that frame both the study and the practice of collaborative governance. Through this review we can identify areas of agreement, contention and confusion about the use, risks and benefits of collaborative governance.