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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Between authority and argumentation: facilitators’ use of power in collaborative governance

Westin, Martin; Hallgren, Lars; Montgomerie, Emily

Abstract

Facilitators of collaborative governance structure communication between stakeholders. They influence the process and, in some instances, also the outcome of collaborative governance. Even so, facilitators are, in the literature and in practice, most often reduced to being neutral or seen merely as power sharers. This reductive understanding obscures facilititators' use of power. The purpose of this paper is to outline a nuanced understanding of authority in facilitation practice. We analyse a Swedish collaborative governance process where a governmental agency facilitates collaboration between actors with conflicting interests. We combine the work of Hannah Arendt and Mark Warren to study authority as relationally performed. We find that facilitators' use of power takes the form of a pendulum movement between authority and argumentation. Hence, authority and argumentation are linked, rather than incompatible, in facilitation practice. This paper sheds new light on the unrecognised, and yet influential, leadership role that facilitators play.

Keywords

authority; facilitation; collaborative governance; natural resource management; dialogue; power

Published in

Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning
2023,

Authors' information

Westin, Martin (Westin, Martin)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG16 Peace, justice and strong institutions

UKÄ Subject classification

Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09640568.2023.2174835

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/121698