What is “Open Dialogue” and is it a solution to post-fact populism? The Open Government Papers, Vol. 2

by Alex Paterson. Posted June 15, 2017


This is the second in The Open Government Papers series by Don Lenihan. To read volume one, click here.

“An important paper that convincingly sets up open dialogue as the most effective answer to populism. A must-read for policy-makers who want governments to make better decisions.” – Graham Fox, IRPP

“This is an insightful, provocative, and important contribution to the current discourse about dialogue and informed participation…” – Dr. Bruce Gilbert, President International Association for Public Participation (Canada)

“Governments need to flip the script on how we view citizen engagement… Lenihan reveals a path forward and takes an important step for open government practitioners.” – Nick Scott, Executive Director, Open Government and Innovation, Government of New Brunswick

In What is Open Dialogue?, Don Lenihan draws on a year-long discussion with governments and stakeholders across Canada to describe how they are using deliberative dialogue to promote evidence-based decision-making, transparency, and citizen engagement. Lenihan then goes on to define a new “hybrid” process he sees emerging from these activities, something he calls Informed Participation. It not only promises a new chapter in the practice of engagement, but a way to respond to the “post-fact” populism now sweeping much of Europe and North American.

This paper will interest experts and non-experts, as it provides an accessible but critical overview of current thinking and practice on engagement in Canada.

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