Leadership, Ethics, and Trust

Citizenship: The American Experience

Image from GFR

Local governments in liberal western democracies across the globe are placing increasing emphasis on strategies and practices that engage the public in more democratic and complementary ways to address wicked community problems. Many of these strategies are informed by research findings from the Kettering Foundation.

This body of research recognizes that if our democracy is to work as it should, citizens and government must work together, each bringing their respective assets and resources to the table to coproduce solutions to shared community problems that neither can fix alone. Nobel Prizewinning economist Elinor Ostrom, who is noted for coining the term “coproduction,” explained it as “a process through which inputs from individuals who are not ‘in’ the same organization are transformed into goods and services.” But there are two words in this description that require clarification: They are “democracy” and “citizen.”