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«OECD Innovation Strategy ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT The OECD is a unique forum where the governments of 30 democracies ...»

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4.3 Mediation Mediation is an age-old form of conflict resolution – King Solomon was an early practitioner! – which experienced a revival in the 1970s in the USA and Germany as an informal, voluntary procedure for developing solutions acceptable to all participants. Horst Zillessen was one of its leading proponents in Germany. A neutral mediator assists the autonomous conflicting parties, encouraging them to work out various options independently. There are now several hundred trained mediators in Germany, dedicated courses of study and various further education opportunities. One area of political application is the resolution of multi-party conflicts through the mediation of a neutral non-partisan third party (Zillessen 1998).

–  –  –

Features of this procedure:

• voluntary participation, transparency of outcome, well-informed participants;

• conflicts are resolved by the conflicting parties themselves;

• the interests of the conflicting parties are given due consideration;

• planning for the future is central to the procedure.


Mediation: Wiener Platz in Munich: successful mediation between residents, business owners, the city council and citizens’ initiatives

concerning the redevelopment of Wiener Platz:


4.4 Petition The right of petition denotes the right to deliver a petition to the state authorities or parliament without fear of the consequences. There have been petitions, requests and complaints to those in power throughout history. In monarchies and dictatorships the petition is often the sole means by which the people can defend themselves against an arbitrary state. The individual is in the position of a supplicant who addresses his or her concerns to the powers that be with no legal right to an answer, still less to redress. In Germany there is a legal right to an answer. In 2005, moreover, online petitions to the Petitions Committee of the Bundestag and public petitions were introduced. In this way individual rights of complaint developed into a deliberative procedure. Besides administrative redress many petitions contain proposals for social and political innovation (Bockhofer 1999).

Features of the procedure:

–  –  –



Petition for better access to officials of the Federal Employment Agency. (Overviews of all public petitions to the Petitions Committee of the

Bundestag, with online-discussions, are available at:


4.5 Citizens’ Conferences/Consensus Conferences The consensus conference, first introduced by the Danish authorities for the purpose of technology assessment, has since been adopted further afield, above all in the USA. This participatory procedure got off to a spectacular start in Germany with the first consensus conference on the future of genetic diagnostics, held in Dresden in 2001. Increasingly, other controversial topics are being addressed by this means, besides technology assessment. To some extent, as, for example, in Dresden, this method also goes by the name of citizens’ conference. If stakeholders rather than citizens are selected as participants in a consensus conference the procedure can have the opposite effect: at the end of the conference the stakeholders are even more committed to their positions than at the beginning because they were unable to shrug off their role as representatives of particular interests during the consensus conference. Success using this procedure depends on whether the participants are able to adopt a new role and perspective. This is easier for citizens than for the representatives of concrete interests.

Features of this procedure:

• personally invited stakeholders and experts, or sometimes selected participants, meet in the run up to the conference over two weekends in order to be given information and to formulate questions to be addressed to experts;

• implementation: questions and discussion with experts;

• conclusion: preparation and public presentation of a concluding document.


“Streitfall Gen-Diagnostik” [The case of genetic diagnosis] – German

Museum of Hygiene, Dresden:


–  –  –

4.6 Open space On his own account, the inventor of the participation procedure Open Space, the American organization consultant Harrison Owen, developed it as a by-product of an international conference he had organized. At this meeting the coffee breaks proved to be the most valuable part of the conference. In light of that Owen made open coffee breaks the basic principle of the procedure: participants in Open Space have no advance agenda and determine the direction, course, and contents of the process through their own activities, and work independently and simultaneously on a wide range of subtopics. If well moderated, Open Space can be very motivating and stimulate creativity. As a result, what you get is not so much decisions as many new ideas and suggestions. It is particularly well suited for preparing and focusing people’s minds in relation to restructuring processes. This procedure has been much used in Germany, and as a result Harrison Owen is often invited to Germany to take part in further education and training courses.

Features of this procedure:

• preliminary moderation in a plenum;

• following this, a very open, self-organised structure in work groups;

• work groups can be shuffled at any time;

• suitable for groups of almost any size.


Open Space – The Groß Klein district of Rostock “At Home in Groß Klein”: topic: how can living in Groß Klein be made attractive once again?


4.7 Citizens’ Panel

This procedure, developed by Helmut Klages at the beginning of the decade, is a regular, reiterated and standardized survey of randomly selected citizens on current topics of local politics. The questionnaire is put online, so opening up participation to all citizens. The procedure therefore functions entirely without discussions and opinion formation processes. Klages views his democratic invention as a response to the poor dissemination of small group-oriented procedures. Many citizens cannot be reached by means of


Future Workshops, Planning Cells, and Open Space. In contrast, surveys are more accessible to all citizens.

Features of this procedure:

• inclusion of broader population segments, as well as providing elected democratic and administrative bodies with information;

• surveying a representative group of 500–1,000 citizens over several years (3–4 surveys a year);

• timely feedback concerning results and feasibility to citizens, political decision-makers, and the administrative authorities.


Citizens’ Consultation “Active Arnsberg”: regular representative

surveys of the public on local topics:


4.8 Citizens’ exhibition The citizens’ exhibition is another rather recent democratic invention. Its aim is to make public participation and its results more attractive by means of biographical, emotional, and aesthetic elements. It is basically an exhibition of posters which present one person’s perspective on a given topic. It therefore gives visual form to personal perspectives in the working out of problem solutions and presents them to a wide range of people. The basic idea of citizens’ exhibitions, developed by Heiner Legewie and HansLiudger Dienel, is to present the attitudes, goals, and motivations of interest groups, followed by public discussion. It starts with interviews with various people on a problem or topic of interest. In these interviews the interviewees talk about their attitude to the topic, what they feel about it, their difficulties, hopes, and ideas for a solution. At the same time, aesthetic elements – frequently photographs – are brought in that illustrate those involved and the essence of their perspective. On this basis the citizens’ exhibition takes shape, in which pictures and interview excerpts are combined, thereby presenting in visual form a new, living viewpoint on the topic or problem.

The citizens’ exhibition serves to provide information, to stimulate further discussion, and to promote transparency concerning a debate or a process of change.


Features of the procedure:

• a combination of photographs and qualitative interviews on a poster;

• aesthetically attractive and emotional biographical presentation of the viewpoints of various participants;

• the ceremonial opening of the citizens’ exhibition is part of the procedure;

• the citizens’ exhibition is a means of providing information, increasing transparency, and stimulating further discussion.


Citizens’ exhibition “Moving away and returning – stories of people who have come back to live in Magdeburg”: people’s motives for returning

to the city were presented in the exhibition:


4.9 Salon Method The Salon Method was developed as a tool for developing visions. It focuses on devising realistic options for forward-looking action. This method for creating progressive concepts ties in with elements of the intellectual salon as a place of learned and profound discourse taking place in a relaxed setting that is pleasing to the eye - such as a hotel or park landscape. The aim is to offer a novel, stimulating environment for a temporary, creative think tank that combines the pleasure of intensive exchange with tangible results.

The Salon Method comprises five steps and is scheduled for two days:

the first step involves the submission of an initial conceptual paper on the Salon’s topic. The second step is designed for participants to define and analyse the problem in greater depth. Next, creative visions are developed in the third step. The fourth step provides deriving specific feasible suggestions for action from these visions. Finally, the results of these four steps are summarized and incorporated into a new overall concept.

Only the first step resembles models of communication that will be familiar to participants. The second step already deviates from the usual course of conferencing. The method offers ideal conditions for extensive dialogue right from the start. Similar to Aristotle’s peripatetic school of philosophy (peripatos = “covered walk”), the Salon Method chooses walks in twos as the most intensive form of intellectual exchange. Participants


engage in intensive dialogue during these walks. Later, each conversation pair is questioned on their view and assessment of the problems. The results of these dialogues are noted down. Furthermore, developing visions is encouraged by the use of various creative methods, e.g. based on the procedure of the “World Café” or the Imagination Phase used in the Future Workshop.

In the morning of the second day, participants work out solution approaches in teams. To this end, the moderator suggests three outstanding participants (with their consent) as “candidates” who are expected to set diverging priorities. These candidates are then joined by a team of experts, forming a group that can be freely joined by other participants, and assigned the task of drawing up a particular policy. The teams are asked to prepare a solution or action concept, such as a 100-day programme or a draft budget.

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