Renegotiating Roles in Local Governments: Facing Resistances to Citizen Participation in Chile

ISI: Renegotiating Roles in Local Governments: Facing Resistances to Citizen Participation in Chile


2019 - Forthcoming - Action Research -


This article presents a reflective analysis of a participatory action research between the authors’ institution and the Community Development Directorate of Santiago Municipality. This work generated organizational change for implementing new citizen participation policies, through a collective reflection about ambiguous roles and organizational paradoxes that allowed to harness the creative potential of emotions and embodied knowledge of public officers. Through workshops of organizational role analysis, a communicative space was built to contain the organizational contradictions generated by the lack of definitions of fieldwork agents’ roles and the insufficient institutional support. This led to implement a new approach for citizen participation, with an unprecedented inter-sectoral structure within this municipality. However, in the absence of structural incentives for internal cooperation, this development was abandoned by the authorities at the onset of an unsuccessful re-election campaign.  Nevertheless, these temporary achievements show the usefulness of socioanalytic methods for transforming organizations in rigid institutional frameworks. This experience was a first attempt to provide institutional support for intersectoral citizen participation policies in Santiago, suggesting ways to generate and sustain long-term changes that are sorely needed in Chilean institutions. 


Participatory Action Research, Organizational Change, Role Analysis, Emotions, Learning from Failure, Communicative Space 

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