MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance

Project: Research project

Project Details


MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance Unique Methodology: Action Research (Pages X-Y) The Living Labs is inspired and informed by pathbreaking work by, some of our suggested network members, who conduct action research related to our three lines of inquiry including, for instance: Erik Johnston (ASU): o 10,000 Solutions. 10,000 Solutions is an ideation and community problem-solving platform hosted by Arizona State University. Johnston is leading a multidisciplinary research team exploring how community participation spreads, the effects of feedback on participation, and the changes in community and collaboration structure over time. o The Policy Challenge. Expanding on the White House's Startup America Policy Challenge, the ASU School of Public Affairs is leading a network of schools and organizations to mobilize students, scholars, practitioners, and concerned public citizens from across the country to participate in a national policy proposal competition. The ongoing initiative affords Johnston and his team the opportunity to study institutional readiness as well as citizen participation and engagement at the national level. Initial Living Labs will explore specific challenges, such as devising ways to evaluate the impact of releasing open health data to the public, or ways to bring better expert input to the governance of a major university. Our goal in these early projects is to develop a Living Labs methodology and partnership model that we will then be able to apply to much larger challenges over the course of this three-year grant. Through these first experiments with Living Labs, we will work out ways to structure these partnerships, divide responsibilities with partnering organizations, work out payment systems, and figure out other operational processes that will be essential to the success of the Living Labs model. As we move into the three-year term of this grant, we will use the learnings from these initial partnerships to develop more ambitious Living Labs that can address large, complex problems of governance, such as climate change, global poverty, or the impact of corporate funding on the political system. In each case, we will partner with an institution or government agency that has a mandate to address a"wicked problem," and will bring the knowledge and tools of the Gov Lab to help them find more effective solutions. We will work with governance institutions in these areas, not organizations that may have a strong interest in the issue but no governing role. For example, in the case of climate change, working with an advocacy group like the Environmental Defense Fund would be out of scope for the GovLab, but working with the EPA would be an appropriate option. Once we have established the MacArthur Research Network, we will convene the Network to agree on three to five"wicked problems" we believe the GovLab and the Research Network can help address, and to identify a number of governing institutions that would be potential partners for each one. The GovLab staff will then explore partnership opportunities with these institutions with the goal of developing Living Labs to address these problems. At the same time, we will send out a request for proposals to the roughly five thousand members of the GovLab's larger community, inviting them to recommend partners and approaches to the problems we have identified. Unlike a traditional RFP, our request will not offer funding, but it will offer the GovLab's resources to help the partners we select. Like all of the GovLab's work, each Living Lab may apply one or more of our three lines of inquiry for improving governance: getting expertise in, pushing data out, or distributing responsibility. During the first year, we will mainly develop Living Labs that will"get expertise in"to help governance institutions do their work and make decisions in a more informed way. We believe that this model will be the least difficult of the three paradigms to develop and will be the easiest for governance institutions to embrace. The institutional partners who operate the Living Labs will provide the technical and personnel infrastructure to support real-world experiments on opening government. These partners will have the primary responsibility for ensuring that their projects are doable and that long-term projects are sustainable. GovLab will support these partners by facilitating a strong foundation of open source practices and community, and ensuring that all projects have viability as open, collaborative projects.
Effective start/end date1/1/1412/31/16


  • MacArthur Foundation: $255,000.00


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