Young People, Big Ideas: Participatory Budgeting Fixes a River

By Rolf Solli, Peter Demediuk and Petra Adolfsson.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Citizen participation in local government budgeting is an important emerging public management reform movement in many countries including Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Spain, Australia and now Sweden. ‘Participatory budgeting’ programs bring local communities into the decision-making process around formal resource allocation plans, and have the potential to give new levels of voice and choice about service and infrastructure expenditure to disconnected or disadvantaged and marginalised citizens and groups. This case study explores the form and function of the first tranche of participatory budgeting programs in a new major initiative that is sponsored by the central agency for local governments (kommuns) in Sweden. The kommun’s program set aside a substantial sum of money to be used in a new project around safety or the environment, and used groups of final year school students to design the participative processes, produce alternative proposals for a project, and vote on a final decision. The paper interrogates how the participatory budgeting program intersects with the themes of economic, cultural, social and environmental sustainability. The case study details the causes and dynamics behind the unanticipated choice made by the groups to compete rather than cooperate, and considers the way in which the final project decided upon was bolstered in funding, scope and execution by linking its main strands to other policy objectives. In the end, this engagement initiative was as much about strengthening democracy and a sense of community as it was about generating, capturing and implementing good ideas

Keywords: Participatory Budgeting, Young People, Local Government, Sweden, Community Engagement, Social Sustainability, Economic Sustainability, Environmental Sustainability, Cultural Sustainability

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.193-206. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 627.755KB).

Prof. Rolf Solli

Director, GRI, Gothenburg Research Institute, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Goteborg, Sweden

Rolf Solli is Director and Professor of Management Studies at Gothenburg Research Institute at University of Gothenburg, Sweden. His research focuses on processes of management, leadership and accounting in the context of public sector organizations. He has published more than fifteen books and a number of articles in the same area. Prior to his present position, Rolf Solliwas for many years Head of School of Public Administration at University of Gothenburg. He is now leading the research program Managing Big Cities.

Dr. Peter Demediuk

Senior Lecturer, School of Accounting & CTSR, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Peter Demediuk is Director of postgraduate accounting programs at Victoria University in Australia, Visiting Professor in Performance Management at Reims Management School in France, and Visiting researcher at Gothenburg Research Institute in Sweden. Research interests include: critical success factors in small wineries; and how public sector management reforms and ideas travel and are translated in new contexts – especially in the realm of community engagement.

Dr. Petra Adolfsson

Researcher, Gothenburg Research Institute, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Goteborg, Sweden

Dr. Petra Adolfsson is a researcher at Gothenburg Research Institute. Petra has an interest in public administration - in particular managing big cities and participatory budgeting. She also conducts research into management of pharmacies, and is involved with projects connected with guided tours.


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