Citizens can and do play many roles in community governance. While citizens should be treated as valued customers (part of the “stakeholder” role below) by government and non-profit service providers, they are much more than that. Citizens have potential to contribute to their communities in many ways, especially if the different roles they can play are recognized by community leaders, and they are given support and encouragement in playing those roles. Five major citizen roles in results-based community governance (including some key variations), are:
- Citizens as Stakeholders
- Citizens as Advocates
- Citizens as Issue Framers, including:
- Foundation builders (e.g., in developing visions, strategic goals)
- Agenda setters (e.g., identifying issues, participating in budgeting)
- Problem definers
- Solution identifiers
- Citizens as Evaluators
- Citizens as Collaborators, including:
- Asset leveragers
Chapter 2 of the book Results That Matter describes these roles in detail and presents in-depth examples of community problem solving that stress how citizens play these roles in improving their communities. Organizations that work with citizens can do a lot to support them in these roles and help strengthen citizens’ influence when they play these roles.
- View a Quick Guide to Supporting Citizens that summarizes 14 ways to supporting citizens in these roles. Chapter 2 of Results That Matter includes many examples that demonstrate the importance of supporting citizens in these ways.
- Go to The Model in Action for mini-cases that include brief synopses of the roles citizens play in selected community and organizational examples of the four Advanced Governance Practices of the Effective Community Governance Model. More detailed examples and case studies throughout the book Results That Matter describe many different ways that citizens play these roles in communities where each of the Advanced Governance Practices is performed.
- See the presentation “Citizen Roles for Effective Community Governance” for information on how governments worldwide have embedded these roles in their current governance systems. This presentation also includes “toolkits” – practices, references, and online resources – with descriptions of each citizen role