Rethinking Budgeting

Study Shows That Polarization in Local Government Decreases After Participation in Online Learning Program

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GFOA and The Constructive Dialogue Institute (CDI) have released a joint research study, Bridging Political Divides in Local Government, recommending methods to enhance cooperation within local governments.

Political polarity has been trickling down from the national level to local government organizations, which can complicate decision-making on consequential matters like budgeting. With this in mind GFOA and CDI have conducted a randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of CDI’s online learning program, Perspectives. The trial has shown that governments can leverage these practical tools to strengthen collaboration and repair fissures in local government.

Perspectives consists of eight 30-minute lessons that weave together psychological concepts with interactive scenarios. Moral Foundations Theory is a core concept used in the program to help learners understand the root of ideological differences so they can develop the mindset and skills to work with others, even in moments of contention. Compared with participants who did not complete the program, learners who completed Perspectives were able to:

  • Better recognize the limits of their own knowledge
  • Become more open to the viewpoints of others
  • View people holding different beliefs with less animosity and more warmth
  • Think about potentially divisive issues in more nuanced ways

GFOA is recruiting local government teams and individuals to participate in the Perspectives program through their Rethinking Budgeting initiative which considers innovative ideas, new technologies, and updated practices to better meet the changing needs of communities.

To sign up and learn more, local government employees can visit Non-government communities and individuals looking to explore Perspectives can find more information at The online learning program is free to use for educators.

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