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An Introduction to Multi-Actor Processes

Author(s): Art Dewulf

Publication Date: 2007

Demonstrating that many of today’s problems cannot be solved by any one actor, this paper presents social problems as “inherently wicked” and in need of multi-actor collaboration.  The paper presents five main features critical to the collaborative process:

  • Recognizing mutual interdependencies between actors to motivate collaboration
  • Dealing with conflicts constructively to address differences
  • Assigning responsibility and joint-ownership to the actors for the decisions they reach
  • Assumption of collective responsibility for the future direction of the problem domain
  • Recognition that collaboration is of an emergent nature, subject to continuous development

To further analyse the process of multi-actor collaboration, the paper presents a phase model which can be applied to gauge progress of the process:

  • The problem-setting phase, where actors are identified, legitimated and motivated to participate and reach agreement over the definition of the problem.
  • The direction-setting phase, where interaction rules and agendas are formulated, solutions are sought, found and agreed upon and commitment is secured.
  • The implementation phase, where the solution is applied with constituents, external support is generated and the solution is monitored and compliance evaluated.