The fuzzy concept of collaborative governance: A systematic review of the state of the art

December 11, 2019

A new open access article has been published in the framework of the TROPICO project (Transforming into Open, Innovative and Collaborative Governments), authors are CEU CPS researchers Agnes Batory and Sara Svensson. The article is published in the Central European Journal of Public Policy, it's the third article resulting from the project’s work package (WP2) on the transformation of institutional conditions of collaboration, a work package that was led by CEU.


This article contributes to the consolidation and synthesis of scholarship on collaborative governance by expanding our knowledge of how the term is used in the academic literature and policy documents in a range of European countries. It adds value to the existing reviews of the field by conducting a systematic literature review on a corpus of over 700 article abstracts and a traditional literature review identifying five key analytical dimensions. The article also provides an exploratory analysis of grey literature hitherto outside the purview of researchers and considers the linguistic and cultural connotations that alter the meaning of the term when translated into new contexts in ten EU/EFTA countries. Findings indicate heterogeneity and fuzziness in the way the concept is used. The article argues that explicit positions with respect to five main analytical dimensions and taking into account the national connotations that the term carries across political systems would inject more clarity into the academic discourse. This, in turn, will help policymakers to make informed use of the concept, especially in multi-national policy-making arenas.

Keywords: collaborative governance; systematic literature review; connotations of collaboration

The article is available online on the journal's website.