The project has two main goals.
Firstly, to carry out a mulitilevel and complete mapping of the existence, performance and organization of the andalusian advisory councils related to various specific areas of public policy. This task will cover the existing ACs in the autonomus administration (regional level) and in those 29 municipalities with more than 50 000 inhabitants (local level). This task is completing a previous mapping on the same topic developed by the autonomous administration.
Secondly, to examine which are the explanatory factors that may condition the uneven performance of these councils, with the aim of being able to contribute to make some improvements in their design. We intend to find answers to questions such as: What factors help explain that some of these councils work better than others? In order to analyze this diversity of performances we propose one of the analytical frameworks most accepted by the specialists on the subject (Smith, 2009) who proposes a set of six analytical criteria, covering both the democratic component and the efficiency component of these mechanisms.
The following three main topics will be central in the analysis:
a) The importance of the type of administration. There are some significant differences between national, regional and local councils. The causes that explain these differences need to be specified.
b) The role of their institutional design. Clearly, the institutional design of the councils (composition and operating regulations), as well as some of their practices, have important effects on their outcomes. The analysis of the key factors that explain these effects must be examined more systematically.
c) Andalusia in comparative perspective. A systematic examination of the Andalusian councils implies, on the one hand, being able to compare them systematically with some of the most similar cases (those of other autonomous administrations / those of other Spanish municipalities) and, on the other hand, framing them between other existing participation instruments existing at the international level.
The initial study universe is made up of the AC’s existing in the andalusian region and in its almost 30 municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants. The forecast is that we will reach approximately 100 councils. On the other hand, at the municipal level is expected to find an average of about 10 councils per case (total estimate of about 300).
Regarding the second phase of the research (codification of regulations and survey to participants) we will make a selection of about 100 councils based on the criteria of choosing certain thematic areas and including all the existing councils at the regional and local levels in a way that allows comparability.
Keeping the thematic areas analyzed in the past (education, immigration and environment) to ensure that we have a comparison framework for the Andalusian data, we will extend them to new sectoral policies. The final selection of these policies will be made once we have completed the mapping and verified the presence of councils in each of these thematic areas.
For each of the 100 councils we will codify their operating regulations (according to the codebook already used) and their members will be invited to participate in an online survey. In order to contact them an attempt will be made to obtain the cooperation of the technical manager of the council so that this person can send an email with a link to the survey to each member of the council. The basic questionnaire will also be the same one already used although we will eliminate some questions that contribute little and we will add only some information about the level of professionalization of the participants.
With these procedures we hope to reach the cooperation of about 70 % of the councils and a response rate of about 35 % of its members. Estimating an average of about 20 members per council this would lead to about 420 interviews.
Finally, the qualitative part will be based on six case studies (two in the regional administration, two in municipalities with more than 200 000 inhabitants and two more in those municipalities with 50 000 to 100 000 inhabitants). This case studies will cover two thematic areas that we have already worked on (education and immigration) in order to facilitate comparability.
The data analysis strategies will combine the traditional quantitative analysis (bi and multivariate, -multilevel given the characteristics of the data-) of the regulations and survey databases (unit of analysis, person interviewed) with the qualitative material of the case studies, in a triangulation of quantitative and qualitative evidence such as used in previous projects. All of this without ruling out that some of the academic products are fundamentally or exclusively produced using quantitative or qualitative material, depending on the specific topic addressed.
To carry out the analyzes we will have available the data collected in Andalusia in the framework of this project as well as the information generated in the Assodem project, with which it will be very easy to compare the corresponding materials. This strategy makes it possible to have a comparative framework in which situate the Andalusian Advisory councils’ reality.
Among its academic products, the main ones will be a series of articles published in journals of international impact.
Previously, preliminary versions of these works will have been disseminated through national and international conferences.
Products aimed at dissemination and discussion with the user community will also be important. Among them, we highlight a practical guide (on how to effectively make work a council) and a newsletter work, such as those already carried out and disseminated in previous projects.
Joan Font conducts research in the areas of democratic innovations and citizen preferences towards institutional reforms.Read More »