Public Perceptions of Collaborative Governance in Transportation Policy

August 2020
Political Research Quarterly

Despite the widespread use and extensive studies of collaborative governance in the United States, we still know too little about how the public at large evaluates the formal inclusion of private stakeholders in collaborative decision making. We examine this question by conducting a series of survey experiments about the function, composition, and power of a proposed regional transportation board. The survey results reveal that while our respondents generally favored collaborative governance (i.e., public officials with private stakeholders) over collaborative government (i.e., public officials only), it was largely due to the inclusion of private citizens, not the stakeholder group representatives. This finding is consistent with a populist framework that presumes that interest group influences tend to impede or distort the will of the electoral majority and that favors functionally delimited mandates and limited power for non-elected decision-making bodies. This has important implications for the design and public acceptance of future collaborative government arrangements.