Abstract: Collaborative Governance and Distributive Justice: Factors That Contribute to Perceptions of Participant Voice (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Collaborative Governance and Distributive Justice: Factors That Contribute to Perceptions of Participant Voice

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Matthew Spitzmueller, PhD, Assistant Professor, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
Genevieve Graaf, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Arlington
Lynn Warner, PhD, Dean & Professor, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY
Eunwoo Lee, MSW, Doctoral Student, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY
Background and Purpose: Collaborative governance is a policy framework that engages public and private partners in shared decision-making. It assumes that policy will be improved when stakeholders contribute their views (i.e., “voice”) to its deliberation. When stakeholders include members of groups who have been marginalized or historically excluded from policy-making processes, collaborative governance holds promise as a distributive justice mechanism. There is, however, limited empirical evidence demonstrating the factors that promote voice in collaborative governance. To address this gap, this study examines New York’s Regional Planning Consortiums (RPCs), a collaborative governance model adopted to oversee the State’s transition to managed behavioral health care. RPCs included peers, local government officials, and representatives of community-based organizations, hospitals and health systems, and managed care organizations. This analysis investigates two questions. Did RPC meeting participants experience voice differently based upon stakeholder group membership? Which features of collaborative governance correlated most strongly with their experience of voice?

Methods: Researchers partnered with RPC leadership to create a survey that included 21 items from a standardized collaborative governance instrument. Three waves of surveys were administered to all RPC participants in six-month intervals over a one-year period. 100 percent of eligible participants completed them. This study analyzes data from the second and third waves (N=364). Responses to survey items were structured on a five-point Likert scale (strongly disagree=1; strongly agree=5). The dependent variable, perception of voice, was based on a composite of three statements: I feel my goals are represented in the decision-making process; I am satisfied with my contribution to the RPC; there is sufficient opportunity for me to express my views about what I think. Stakeholder group was measured with a categorical variable. Bivariate analyses assessed the association between stakeholder group and participants’ perception of voice. A multivariable linear regression assessed associations among perception of voice and stakeholder group, sociodemographic characteristics, and RPC experiences. Collinear and non-significant variables were removed from the model based on goodness-of-fit and multicollinearity diagnostics.

Results: All groups perceived a high degree of voice. In the bivariate analysis, membership in the local government stakeholder group was significantly and positively associated with participants’ perception of voice (β=0.84; 95% CI: 0.20, 1.48). In multivariable analysis, stakeholder group membership was not significantly related to perception of voice. RPC experiences positively and significantly associated with perception of voice were: satisfied with goals and objectives [β=0.52; 0.31, 0.74]; the right data is being used [β=0.22; 0.13, 0.26]; comfortable with other participants [β=0.22, 0.20, 0.64]; the purpose is clear [β=0.33; 0.12, 0.55]; the process is clear [β=0.63; 0.42, 0.84]; the process is facilitated fairly [β=0.19; 0.13, 0.26].

Conclusions and Implications: Participants reported similarly positive perceptions that their views contributed to deliberative processes. Perception of voice depended on their satisfaction with goals and objectives, data that were used, other participants, clarity of purpose and process, and fairness of facilitation. These findings point macro practitioners and social work scholars to the group-based techniques and processes of collaborative governance that are most important for equitable stakeholder engagement in policy decisions.