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12 Online Resources On Collaboration And Public Policy

This is the first installment of a periodic series of posts highlighting sources of information and insight about collaborative public policy and its many related fields. Cross Collaborate looks at collaborative public policy as an emerging field that draws on numerous sources, including change management, negotiation, collaborative networks, deliberative democracy, mediation, consensus building and other related areas of practice. Each of these sources of influence has provided specific concepts and tools that collaborative leaders and practitioners need to understand in order to select the appropriate method for each situation they encounter.

Each of the websites mentioned here offers a gateway to resources of many types to help deepen understanding of collaborative principles and techniques. These have been especially useful to me, but please add your suggestions so that we can continue to build a comprehensive list.

I’ve adapted these summary explanations from each site and highlighted especially useful resources.

CRInfo: CRInfo “is a free, online clearinghouse, indexing more than 25,000 peace- and conflict resolution-related Web pages, books, articles, audiovisual materials, organizational profiles, events, and current news articles. In addition to its easy-to-use but powerful search engine, CRInfo (along with its partner project, Beyond Intractability) provides easy browsing of information on 600 peace- and conflict resolution-related topics. Also available are recommended readings from our panel of editors on 425 topics, along with 225 ‘executive summary’-type overview essays on key topics and approximately 500 summaries of important books and articles.” These two sites comprise a single comprehensive resource. There are guides introducing conflict resolution to different groups, including adversaries, practitioners and “bystanders,” and another set of user guides discussing the application of conflict resolution methods to many different policy fields. Especially interesting is a large collection of audio-recorded interviews with practitioners and experts from around the world.

Change Management Toolbook: The Change Management Toolbook is a collection of more than 120 tools, methods and strategies which you can apply during different stages of personal, team and organizational development, in training, facilitation and consulting. It is divided into three principle sections: Self, Team and Larger System. Registration is required. Free registration is required. Many materials are free, but others require payment. This is one of the most comprehensive collections of practical tools useful not only in the change management field but also in consensus building and other forms of group process.

The IAF Methods Database: This site is intended for professional facilitators and is dedicated to online and face-to-face methods for creating, leading and following up group meetings. Three levels of techniques are used in the IAF Methods Database; Applications such as Scenario Planning, Methods or Models such as Mind Mapping and Interventions for ensuring efficient meetings. Each of the levels is explained and examples are given. The searchable database contains 455 techniques. The database is located at a different site from that of the International Association of Facilitators, free registration is required for access to the materials. Recent changes to the site have greatly improved access and browsing of explanations for each of the methods.

Open Space World: OpenSpaceWorld is a portal site, functioning as a global community resource. It is managed by a volunteer webmaster, supported over the last ten years or so by a number of helpers and contributors, and linked to several other Open Space community gathering points and resource sites. “Membership,” online and around the world, is open, informal, self-selected — and active. Resources available include authoritative introductions to Open Space methodology, including a sector by Harrison Owen, who developed the method. A couple of earlier posts here provide a very brief introduction to Open Space and to OpenSpace Online, a website replicating the process in online meetings.

US Environmental Protection Agency Center for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPRC): CPRC provides alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services to the entire Agency. The CPRC “develops and implements Agency ADR policy, administers Agency-wide ADR programs, coordinates case management and evaluation, and provides support to program-specific ADR activities. Building on existing ADR efforts at EPA, the CPRC assists other Agency offices in developing effective ways to anticipate, prevent, and resolve disputes, and makes neutral third parties more readily available for those purposes.” The site has an excellent collection of documents on federal government policies and use of conflict resolution methods. The EPA site on Public Involvement has an even more extensive collection of resources, including EPA policy documents and Presidential Executive Orders on public involvement. The site also makes available an enormous collection of tools, guidance documents and handbooks prepared for implementation in several EPA programs. Similar materials from other federal agencies and a searchable database make this a comprehensive information resource.

World Directory of ADR Blogs: “Bringing together the world of blogs covering mediation, arbitration, negotiation, conflict resolution, and people-focused innovations in justice and law.” Assembled by mediator and lawyer Diane Levin, the directory contains information and links to blogs on 15 subject areas in the conflict resolution field, and includes sites from 30 countries. This is the most comprehensive listing of blogs by ADR experts from around the world. has been one of the most important sites in this field for more than ten years. It includes a comprehensive directory of mediators in all fields of practice, and an assortment of resources prepared for this site. There is free access to many resources, but practitioners, in particular, can readily sign up for a free Basic Membership. This includes access to over 5,000 articles & resources, a basic directory listing for practitioners for home state, county and area code, and the Weekly Newsletter. Especially helpful is a huge collection of online articles by practitioners and experts, contributed over the past decade, that cover every aspect of mediation, consensus building and negotiation. A weekly selection of posts from practitioner blogs is another unique feature. (Disclosure: this blog is now included.) Paid membership also provides access to a series of video interviews with senior practitioners as well as books and DVD’s.

Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation – Clearinghouse: “The Program on Negotiation (PON) is a university consortium dedicated to developing the theory and practice of negotiation and dispute resolution. As a community of scholars and practitioners, PON serves a unique role in the world negotiation community. Founded in 1983 as a special research project at Harvard Law School, PON includes faculty, students, and staff from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University.” PON is especially renowned for its intensive training courses and for publication of the Negotiation Journal. Of greatest interest in this context is its Clearinghouse, a collection of well-tested training materials and simulations. Many are free, but most require payment of modest fees, on a per role player/instructor basis. The simulations are often scorable and are known for their thoroughness in bringing out the fine points of negotiation and mediation skill building.

Policy Consensus Initiative (PCI)/ National Policy Consensus Center( NPCC) : “PCI builds and supports networks that provide states with leadership and capacity to achieve more collaborative governance. NPCC develops collaborative governance systems that enable leaders to achieve better solutions to public issues. We produce and distribute a range of tools and resources, including publications and videos, that promote best practices and provide guidance on the use of collaborative governance.” I have featured several PCI videos on this site because they are the best produced and most concise explanation of public policy consensus building that I can find on the web. In addition, PCI has produced carefully reviewed guidebooks for conveners of consensus processes, focusing on the needs of state legislatures and other officials who have play this role. These are some of the best guides I know to introduce any interested person to the field.

Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC) – E-PARCC Maxwell School, Syracuse University: Adapted from the website explanation: Collaboration is an essential tool in an increasingly interconnected world. PARCC examines how collaborative governance has altered political and social relationships across national and international landscapes. It seeks to identify the best practices of collaborative governance. – Two of its leading researchers, Lisa Bingham and Rosemary O’Leary, have produced authoritative guides to the use of collaborative methods and networks in public agencies. Another resource, located at the E-PARCC website, is a unique set of teaching resources. This collection includes case studies, simulations, course syllabi and other resources relating to collaborative public management, public agency networks, collaborative governance and collaborative problem solving. Many of these materials are produced as part of a competition judged by an international panel of experts. The prize-winning simulations, syllabi and other teaching materials are freely accessible online. Like materials from PON, these are useful for general learning purposes outside instructional settings, especially for the case studies and scenarios of conflict resolution.

US Institute of Peace – Resources and Tools: “USIP provides the analysis, training and tools that prevent and end conflicts, promotes stability and professionalizes the field of peacebuilding. USIP Online Library has over 12,000 items dealing with conflicts, diplomacy, negotiation, and mediation. Resources also include: interviews with experts on recent global conflict developments; a practitioner’s toolkit with tools for the prevention, management, and peaceful resolution of conflict; and digital collections of peace agreements, oral histories and other documentation.”

International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) – Public Participation Knowledge Network: IAP2 is the major professional association in this field. Its Knowledge Network is a growing resource that includes a forum for feedback and discussion. “Developed by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) and Portland State University’s Center for Public Participation, this interactive network is a resource for both academics and practitioners who are interested in sharing knowledge and research on public participation. The network consists of: a searchable database of books, articles and websites related to public participation; an online discussion forum for sharing research-related knowledge and experience.” The database provides abstracts and detailed references for over 300 research articles and 45 case studies. Especially useful for anyone wanting to learn more about public participation practices globally are summaries of almost 50 websites, with listings of the types of resources available at each site.


John Folk-Williams

I’m John Folk-Williams, the publisher and editor of Cross Collaborate. Since the early 1980s, I’ve been a practitioner and writer in the field of public policy collaboration, interest-based negotiation, mediation and the involvement of citizens in the decisions that affect their lives. A site like this is itself a collaboration… MORE >

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