Handbook of Democratic Innovation and Governance
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Handbook of Democratic Innovation and Governance

Edited by Stephen Elstub and Oliver Escobar

Democratic innovations are proliferating in politics, governance, policy, and public administration. These new processes of public participation are reimagining the relationship between citizens and institutions. This Handbook advances understanding of democratic innovations, in theory and practice, by critically reviewing their importance throughout the world. The overarching themes are a focus on citizens and their relationship to these innovations, and the resulting effects on political equality. The Handbook therefore offers a definitive overview of existing research on democratic innovations, while also setting the agenda for future research and practice.
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Chapter 14: Public servants in innovative democratic governance

Wieke Blijleven, Merlijn van Hulst and Frank Hendriks


The increased importance of democratic innovation reshapes the role of government and politics, including that of civil servants. Although public servants play an important role in making democratic innovations work in practice, a comprehensive overview of their roles and practices in democratic innovation is missing. This chapter develops such an overview, by drawing on insights from research on front-line work in governance, democratic professionalism, process facilitation, boundary spanning and meta-governance. These literatures show that civil servants can play a key role by facilitating democratic processes and community initiatives, and through sharing their knowledge and expertise, in ways that empower citizens. In addition, public servants share the fundamental challenge of connecting and translating between institutions, organizations and processes inside and outside city hall.

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