Rethinking Perspectives of Power in Collaborative Governance


Power is an important concept in understanding collaborative governance, however, the existing research is largely dominated by the functional and critical perspectives of power. Aided by a conceptual content analysis of power used in collaborative governance literature in the top public administration journals, we viewed power as a family resemblance concept that should be conceptualized through four perspectives: functional, critical, social construction, and pragmatic. We provide elaboration of each of these four perspectives and propose counterarguments to assumptions that have arisen due to the reliance on a functional or critical perspective of power. We conclude that viewing power as a family resemblance concept with at least four perspectives offers collaborative governance researchers the ability to adopt the best perspective that is the most useful for their analysis and most helpful for public administrators to understand power in their collaborative efforts.

Publication Title

Journal of Public and Nonprofit Affairs