In Search of the Relevant Other: Collaborative Governance in Denmark

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    This paper argues that the emergence and evolution of the semantics of collaborative governance form the basis of modern planning and policy making. The semantics of collaborative governance has a rationality of its own, where the differences between the relevant stakeholders in relation to power and specific interests are diminished in favour of equality-based dialogue and consensus making in order to produce longstanding, innovative solutions to the wicked problems of modern society. The paper will show how the semantics of collaborative governance are structured around the absence of a stable and affirmative concept of equality. Taking its outset in a large Danish reform of the housing association sector, this paper shows how a concrete reform adopts the promising semantics of collaborative governance and thereby reproduces its incomplete and incomprehensible notion of equality. The paper closes with an investigation of how the reform produces unintended and continnuous disappointment among relevant stakeholders because the equal other seems continues to slide, yet remain their ambiguity. The article argue that the reform throws stakeholders into an on-going search for the relevant other, the one they can be in equality-based dialogue with.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalScandinavian Journal of Public Administration
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)55-75
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Collaborative governance
    • Equality
    • Housing associations
    • Wicked problems

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