Defining and Achieving Normative Democratic Values in Participatory Budgeting Processes

Authors

  • Doralyn Rossmann,

    Corresponding author
    1. Montana State University Libraries
    • Doralyn Rossmann is assistant professor and collection development librarian in the Libraries at Montana State University. Her research and teaching focus on public budgeting, bibliographic control, distributed leadership, and organizational dynamics.
      E-mail:doralyn@montana.edu

      Elizabeth A. Shanahan is associate professor of political science at Montana State University. Her research interests center on policy confl ict and the role that public offi cials, media, interest groups, and citizens have in developing political narratives to influence policy outcomes.
      E-mail:shanahan@montana.edu

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  • Elizabeth A. Shanahan

    Corresponding author
    1. Montana State University
    • Doralyn Rossmann is assistant professor and collection development librarian in the Libraries at Montana State University. Her research and teaching focus on public budgeting, bibliographic control, distributed leadership, and organizational dynamics.
      E-mail:doralyn@montana.edu

      Elizabeth A. Shanahan is associate professor of political science at Montana State University. Her research interests center on policy confl ict and the role that public offi cials, media, interest groups, and citizens have in developing political narratives to influence policy outcomes.
      E-mail:shanahan@montana.edu

    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Achieving public participation often is a goal for public budgeting entities, but it is difficult to accomplish in practice. This study examines three questions: How do public representatives interpret and define their democratic responsibilities? What are their insights regarding opportunities for and barriers to participatory budgeting processes? To what extent are these goals met? To address these questions, this research employs a qualitative research strategy with a case study design of a public university budgeting committee. The findings reveal that respondents (1) define their mission structurally and procedurally, (2) identify a need for ethical behavior and leadership, and (3) recognize that democratic values such as participation and efficiency are in tension with one another. Being open and inclusive comes in the form of the citizen–public administrator dialectic and requires intellectual, ethical, and practical engagement with competing democratic values.

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