Collaborative Governance in East Asia: Evolution Towards Multi-stakeholder Partnerships
In public administration and public policy studies, collaborative governance has become a buzzword as complex, modern social problems demand greater cooperative efforts and collective intelligence from both public and private sector stakeholders. Despite the rise in research on collaborative governance, however, there has been a dearth of related studies on East Asian countries. This book aims to fill this gap and inspire comparative studies that attempt to understand how the region is coping with the increasing challenges of managing social problems.
The role of government in public governance has been recognized as a strong one in East Asia due to the state-led development of many countries in the region and the historical legacy of meritocratic bureaucracy intervening in social issues. However, several contributing factors have weakened the effectiveness of top-down rational planning and policy implementation, especially that of central governments, over the last few decades. First, contemporary social problems and public issues are often poorly predicted and diagnosed by bureaucracies. Natural disasters and pandemic diseases are good examples. The current COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives dramatically, revealing which countries have the resiliency and effective public-private cooperation necessary to win the fight against this deadly virus. The second factor is the limited resources and authority of central governments. Most public programs related to the environment, transportation, and education are locally implemented. Central governments are too far removed to grasp the issues of local communities, while local governments have better information and resources that they can mobilize. Power devolution from central to local governments is an ongoing process in East Asia as the principle of subsidiarity gains wider acceptance. The third is the increasing demand for citizen participation in the public policy process. Increasing awareness of citizen rights in governing a country are driving more people to express their opinions, organize their interests, and demand representation in the policy decision-making process. Democratization is certainly contributing to this awareness and increased digital connectivity aids people to participate. Many public programs face difficulty in the implementation phase if civil society organizations or local resident groups are not properly consulted. Many governments have provided participatory mechanisms to allow policy input from citizens in order to improve policy effectiveness and legitimacy.
The demand for public-private collaboration tends to be higher in places with a greater number of social conflicts. In this sense, conflict and collaboration are two sides of the same coin in governance studies. In order to understand social conflict and develop a dynamic and resilient collaboration model, several scholars at Sungkyunkwan University’s Graduate School of Governance launched a series of research papers with funding from the National Research Foundation of South Korea. This research network quickly expanded to include fourteen professors and post-doctoral researchers from eight universities. In order to understand how citizens view social problems, take action to resolve them, and rate their government conflict management systems, the East Asia Collaboration Center (EACC) inside Sungkyunkwan University conducted surveys in 2018 and 2019 in the five East Asian countries of Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. Two chapters of this book are dedicated to analyzing this survey data. This book itself is also part of the Center’s collective research efforts. We invited several East Asian scholars working on collaborative governance in East Asia to contribute to this book. The initial workshop to facilitate our collaboration was held on Jeju Island in South Korea from August 21 to 23 in 2019. We invited more scholars from the network of the Asian Association for Public Administration to contribute, and ultimately were able to include eleven chapters written by scholars from China, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand in this book.
The chapters are divided into three parts for the sake of convenience as they address some overlapping problems. Lee and Kim’s chapter reveals the interesting finding that people who have participated in public conflict resolution attempts with their government are discouraged from participating in similar future attempts. Further study is needed into why engaging with the government to solve social conflict has such a negative impact on the willingness of the public to participate in conflict resolution. Ugaddan, Yang, and Park find that people who feel positively about their government’s conflict management methods are also less likely to perceive that they are in conflict with the government. They also find that trust in government has a significant moderating effect on this relationship. Yoo and Cho’s chapter compares the deliberative polling that was introduced in Japan and South Korea on nuclear energy policy. They argue that while both polls were meant to encourage citizen participation in reducing the number of nuclear power plants, they had different, limited impacts as they lacked the legal grounds necessary for enforcement.
Part II contains examples of collaborative governance at the local government level. Brillantes Jr. and Ruiz introduce several successful cases of local government programs in the Philippines. They identify leadership, public participation, multisectoral cooperation, media and information dissemination, and support from international institutions as the major factors supporting innovative collaborative governance. Situating the collaborative governance framework on the relations between local governments and residents, Kikuchi’s chapter examines a new waste management system that resulted from improved collaboration between the two. He argues that new policy tools such as evidence-based policy making, which helps the public make informed decisions, and randomized control trials, which allow for more effective evaluation of policy impacts, are contributing to the collaborative participation of community residents in recycling programs run by local governments. The chapter by Lee, Cho, and Park analyzes the Korean energy policy making interaction between central government ministries, local governments, public enterprises, and civil society leaders. They argue that energy governance among these multiple stakeholders has evolved from a hierarchical form to a participatory form that provides more space for local governments and civil society leaders. Nonetheless, they point out that policy coordination among ministries and trust building between public and private stakeholders necessary for successful collaborative governance are still lacking. The chapter by Sun, Lin, and Phan offers an interesting analysis of how the views individuals hold towards democracy affect their attitudes regarding a local placemaking program in Taiwan. They identify five democratic subjectivities using a Q methodology.
Part III addresses inter-governmental or inter-agency collaborative governance. The two chapters on Chinese collaborative governance both focus on the cooperation patterns of local governments through the lens of collective action theory. The chapter by Wu, Liu, Chen, and Qin examines the collaborative governance mechanisms to prevent and control air pollution in the Yangtze River Delta. They highlight both the structural mechanism of gathering the relevant actors and providing a platform for information sharing, decision-making, implementation, and evaluation as well as the procedural mechanism of determining tasks, formulating specific programs, promoting policy implementation, and ensuring the effectiveness of each policy. They argue that China needs to further develop its procedural mechanism by building trust between local governments. Suo, Kan, Ma, and Chen analyze the bilateral agreements of eight provincial governments in the Pan Pearl River Delta region, dividing them into four groups using the two criteria of willingness to cooperate and risk of cooperation. They find that many local governments view cooperation with other local governments as risky, even as the majority intend to cooperate. Prasojo and Abubakar examine collaborative governance among the law enforcement agencies of Indonesia in prosecuting corruption. Comparing the strategies of cooperation, competition, conflict, non-use of cooperation, and the absence of relationship, they find that non-use of cooperation is the dominant relationship type, and conclude that this is due to the institutional design which maximizes each agency’s authority to combat corruption. Kamolvej and Luangprapat’s chapter on Thailand, on the other hand, describes more cooperative inter-agency risk management collaboration in combating a tsunami, flooding, and COVID-19. However, despite the active response of the three administrative layers of central, provincial, and local government to disasters under the focal agency of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, agency coordination and adherence to international standards still leave much to be desired for the successful management of disaster risks.