The study of boundary work in three cases of deliberative governance in land use planning, two in the Netherlands and one in the United States, demonstrates that credible democratic deliberative governance is limited: many participants resist to giving up their formal powerful positions, nor do they share experiences, exchange knowledge, or engage in collaborative inquiries. Deliberative governance and innovative solutions occur only in experiments that stage reflective conversations. To be more than an “innovation business”, participants have to be encouraged — by the setting and by the incentives from rules and regulations — to transcend boundaries around frozen discourse and practice. Moreover, a deliberative design and facilitators that are able to redirect conflict into reflective conversations are of great value. They enable critique and empathy in conversations and consensus in outcomes. These are vital ingredients to create credible, innovative and democratic decisions.
Tamara Metze conducted this PhD research at the University of Amsterdam in the department of political science. Since 1998 she has worked as a policy advisor for de Stad bv. She is an assistant professor at the Tilburg School of Politics and Public Administration.