PB Special Research Projects
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Research Question(s)Researcher NameResearcher EmailComments
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1. Democratizing Institutions
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To what extent does PB produce meaningful and durable change in the structure of democratic institutions?
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What are the conditions that lead to PB processes deepening in terms of their scale (growth in participation, size of budget, number of districts) and scope (type of budget, type of participation)?
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How does PB interact with / relate to / expand other forms of citizen participation in government?
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How does PB alter the relationship between elected officials and constituents?
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What is the association between PB and the careers of elected officials?How do media cover elected officials who adopt PB? Do candidates use PB in campaign platforms? How is using PB associated with winning or not winning an election?
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What are the impacts of PB on the work and relationships of city staff?
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What are the key challenges that city staff face in adapting to PB?
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How do different models of PB vary in terms of their impacts on ... ?
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What is the extent (e.g. in terms of hours) of volunteer involvement in PB implementation?e.g. Number and hours of volunteer involvement in PB implementation; percentage of PB implementation work done by volunteers. For a better understanding (as well as promotion) of PB, it would be advantageous to a) get a sense of the level of community engagement in the process, b) get a sense of the extent to which PB shifts government staffs’ and residents’ involvement in local democracy and c) consider what might be the most preferred balance of community-volunteer involvement vs paid city staff involvement in the process.
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2. Deliberation and decision-making
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To what extent does deliberation occur within the project development (or budget delegate) phase of PB? What are the enabling conditions for effective deliberation, and the main constraints or challenges?A study on the role and quality of deliberation in PB could contribute important information about the implementation of the process and the relationship between deliberation and PB key metrics. At what point in the process do deliberations take place? What kind of deliberation is taking place and how good is it? When does deliberation have impacts on PB outcomes? Etc.

At the most simple level a study may begin by asking whether “a discussion about the pros and cons of different projects” has taken place.

Challenge: Is PB designed/meant to enhance deliberation? Is PB more about participation than quality of deliberation?
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What modes of decision-making, including but not limited to deliberation, do partcipants in PB engage in? How do decision-making processes vary across the different phases of a PB process?
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How do different modes of decision-making relate to equity and other outcomes? Which modes of decision-making and discussion best highlight and overcome differences in knowledge, confidence, and political power among participants?
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3. Civic and Political Engagement
These and other special projects may require unique IDs for surveys. Some processes are currently piloting ways to generate unique IDs for survey respondents that will allow them to be tracked through the process and over time for outcomes research.
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How does participation in PB impact an individual's civic engagement behaviors? Does participation in PB lead to higher civic engagement in other areas?This is a question of great interest to many stakeholders and would be important to investigate. While it is in principle a key metric, it goes beyond the capacity of individual evaluators to conduct a study that can address this question.
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To what extent does PB engage residents who have not previously (or recently) been active in other forms of civic engagement?
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Does PB impact voter turnout in city or other elections?Carolina Johnson, Jake Carlson, Sonya Reynoldscsjohns@uw.eduIs there a change in voter turnout before and after PB, on the individual or district level? Does people’s propensity to vote change due to PB? Is district-level voter turnout affected by PB? Is there another opportunity for democratic participation other than local elections that may be affected by PB? Would require:
- matching of PB participants to non-participants and tracking over time
- matching of PB districts/cities to non-PB districts/cities over time
- inclusion of relevant control variables
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How does turnout in PB processes compare with that of other forms of democratic participation?PB participation is typically compared to turnout in local elections. A special project could look at other, perhaps location-specific opportunities for public participation in local government that would make for relevant comparisons against which PB participation can be evaluated.
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To what extent and in what ways does PB expand the civil society base of communities?
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4. Skills and Knowledge
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What is the impact of PB on participants' knowledge of and/or attitudes towards (i) city government (ii) city infrastructure needs (iii) the city budget, and (iv) their neighbors and community?This is a question of great interest to many stakeholders and would be important to investigate. While it is in principle a key metric, it goes beyond the capacity of individual evaluators to conduct a study that can address this question.

Existing work related to this project comes from voter surveys that include a question asking participants whether they have learned something new about local government through PB – participants tend to say yes to this question.
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What is the effect of participation on the skill set of budget delegate? To what extent do participants in PB transfer their skills to other areas?
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Under what conditions does PB maximize skill development, particularly among less experienced and/or disenfranchized residents?
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5. Equity
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To what extent and/or under what conditions does PB succeed in allocating money to communities identified as most in need?
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How does the allocation of funds through PB compare with the allocation prior to PB?Iuliia Shybalkinaiuliia.shybalkina@gmail.comA spatial equity project that maps projects and uses geographers’ and planners’ tools to estimate characteristics of the population most likely to benefit from the project – compare that to spatial analysis of projects funded by same source prior to PB or in matched comparison districts/cities.
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To what extent and/or under what conditions does PB succeed in engaging less privileged or disenfranchized residents (a) as budget delegates (b) in the idea collection phase (c) as voters?
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What are the broader impacts of PB on the political power and quality of life of residents and communities identified as most disenfranchized?
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How do different PB processes compare in terms of how they define and pursue equity goals?In addition to analyzing participant demographics and aspects of the allocation of funds through the process, the equity of each process could also be studies as an aspect of implementation quality/institutional variety. For example, one could ask: Was equity an explicit goal of the process? (Also see: Implementation index for variables that can speak to equity in each process)
Possible variables to collect (Rule book analysis, implementer/evaluator surveys):
- Goals related to equity of allocations are specified in rule book or not
- Equity considerations are expressed in assemblies, delegate training, other meeting; and materials (vs. emphasis is on community improvements more generally)
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6. Adoption
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Why PB is adopted?Factors identified: government’s ideology (Goldfrank 2011), civil society mobilization (Avritzer 2002; Baiocchi 2005), democracy promotion (Santos 2005), international organizations (Porto de Oliviera 2017; Goldfrank 2012), government’s electoral incentives (Wampler 2007), and nationally mandated programs (McNulty 2013)
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How do PB processes diffuse?Factors identified: international donors, international advocacy organizations, and individuals who promote PB, called “participatory ambassadors” (Porto de Oliviera 2017)
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7. Variation in Quality of PB Programs and Outcomes
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What factors are associated with successful and unsucessful PB processes?
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