Citizen participation in local government budgeting is an important emerging public management reform movement in many countries including Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Spain, Australia and now Sweden. Participatory budgeting programs bring local communities into the decision-making process around formal resource allocation plans, and have the potential to give new levels of voice and choice about service and infrastructure expenditure to disadvantaged and marginalised citizens and groups. This case study explores the first ‘participatory budgeting’ program to be run by any Swedish local government and examines how the antecedent ‘future workshops’ engagement initiative shaped many of the structures and processes used. The program targeted an area in which inhabitants were quite transitory, under employed, relatively poorer, and less educated that the norm in Sweden. The study details the rather unexpectedly enthusiastic and strong contribution made by participants to the three alternative infrastructure proposals put up for a local community vote, but also highlights the dangers when the good intentions and substantial resources collide with a contrary organizational culture, poorly matched political and managerial frameworks, and a lack of influential receivers and commissioners.
|Keywords:||Participatory Budgeting, Sweden, Local Government, Marginalised, Disadvantaged, Citizens, Community, Political Frameworks, Management Frameworks, Organisational Culture|
Senior Lecturer, School of Accounting & CTSR, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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