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Laurence Bherer and Caroline W. Lee

This chapter explores the role of participation consultants in the development and implementation of democratic innovations, taking Western Europe, Canada and the US as illustrative cases. It offers critical analysis of the role of consultants who, working for the private, public and nonprofit sectors, are hired to implement participatory processes in a range of institutional and policy contexts. Where did this industry come from? What types of actors populate this field? What are the structural conditions and contextual incentives under which they operate? We examine the emergence of this new field, its role in promoting and diffusing a variety of democratic innovations, and current questions regarding the implications of a participation industry for democratic practice.