Cherry-picking participation: Explaining the fate of proposals from participatory processes

Joan Font*, Graham Smith, Carol Galais, Pau Alarcon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


What happens to the proposals generated by participatory processes? One of the key aspects of participatory processes that has been the subject of rare systematic analysis and comparison is the fate of their outputs: their policy proposals. Which specific factors explain whether these proposals are accepted, rejected or transformed by public authorities? In this article contextual and proposal-related factors are identified that are likely to affect the prospect of proposals being implemented. The explanatory power of these factors are tested through multilevel analysis on a diverse set of 571 policy proposals. The findings offer evidence that both contextual and proposal-related variables are important. The design of participatory processes affects the degree of implementation, with participatory budgeting and higher quality processes being particularly effective. Most significant for explaining outcomes are proposal-level, economic and political factors: a proposal's cost, the extent to which it challenges existing policy and the degree of support it has within the municipality all strongly affect the chance of implementation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)615-636
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • democratic innovations
  • local governance
  • participation
  • policy implementation


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