75% of respondents believe policies developed through citizen engagement are more likely to be supported
“Citizen engagement by definition should build trust and add value to the mechanisms government uses to deliver policy—not just communications for communications sake.”
Government communication professionals are increasingly attempting to include citizens in the decision-making process. They believe they are already practising citizen engagement and many respondents to the research see a growing role for it.
This finding from our quantitative work was consistent with findings from our qualitative interviews. Communication leaders across several countries said that citizen engagement is becoming an imperative for government. Indeed, several governments and government ministries have made citizen engagement a mandatory part of policy development. Some have even imposed quotas on ministers.
“Our cabinet took a decision that all ministers will have a minimum number of interactions with the public…and they’re supposed to run listening campaigns…so as part of the ministers’ agreement there is a minimum number of stakeholder engagements they are supposed to deliver”Communication Leader, Africa
“Whenever we release a new law or a new policy, we release it first for public consultation and ask for citizen feedback. We publish the feedback and answer why we may not be following the request on this option, or why we accepted that suggested change.”Communication Leader, Middle East
The importance placed on citizen engagement was driven by the perception that it helped generate support and compliance for policy:
- 75% of respondents believe policies developed through citizen engagement are more likely to be supported;
- 80% believe that policies developed through citizen engagement were more likely to lead to increased compliance.
Communication leaders also stated that when done well citizen engagement improves public perceptions of transparency and accountability, and can help build overall trust in government.
“Citizen engagement by definition should build trust and add value to the mechanisms government uses to deliver policy—not just communications for communications sake”Communication Leader, Australasia
Technology was in many cases helping communicators convert willingness into meaningful action. However, some communication leaders believed that technology has its limitations and can often be a barrier, rather than a bridge, to greater engagement.
“With online platforms and offline civil society partnerships, we’re now in a space where we can link together people with different positions. We can find common value and a solution that works for everyone. It’s not consensus. It’s more like group collective consent.”Communication Leader, South-East Asia
“Direct communication cannot be substituted with digital communication. It can only be amplified.”Communication Leader, South America