Local government innovation
This chapter unpacks the context within which the participatory mechanisms emerged and developed. Introduction and institutionalisation of participatory mechanisms have been referred to domestically by the party-state as “innovation in government” and incorporated into “innovation” and “local government innovation” discourses. In this way, participatory experiments have been safely placed within the framework of development under the one-party state regime, yet have been encouraged and enabled as a part of the government’s efforts to promote innovations to achieve more efficient, “scientific”, “harmonious”, “customer-oriented”, and “good” governance, illustrating the connection between state building and public participation in the exercise of power. The chapter examines how the overall reform trajectory and evolving priorities reflected in the emphasis on government innovations provided a fertile ground for the emergence, legitimisation, and normalisation of participatory mechanisms. Under the imperative of state building, the state-led drive for innovations moved from a narrow focus on technological and economic domains to one focused on administration and governance of society, which created a favourable environment for expansion and institutionalisation of participatory practices. Consequently, public participation has come to serve as an important instrument to improve the governance-related processes and outcomes.