The demand for early, formative citizen participation in infrastructure projects has been booming in Germany for several years and places new demands on infrastructure companies. But what role can companies play in public participation processes? And what role is accepted by the municipalities? Are companies only “targets” for citizen demands and citizen protest? Or can they themselves be an active player in the participation process? What responsibility do companies have for good citizen participation? These questions are still largely unanswered in the debate on citizen participation. In order to contribute to this research, nexus was commissioned by Veolia Environnement to survey municipalities across Germany on the topic of corporate involvement in participation processes. As part of the study, the project partners first consulted in an internal company workshop at Veolia Environnement. This was followed by a qualitative expert survey. The nexus team then collected data from municipalities across Germany using an online questionnaire. The study aimed to clarify the following main questions:

  • How is civic participation in general and the participation of companies in particular in civic participation perceived and evaluated by municipalities?
  • From the point of view of municipalities, what role can a company play as a partner in citizen participation? What role is accepted?
  • How should civic participation, in which a company takes on a role as a partner, be implemented?
  • What business and social benefits and risks can be associated with a role as a partner in civic participation for companies?

Duration: 11/2011 – 10/2012
Client: Veolia Environnement
Team: Dr. Birgit Böhm, Sabine Schröder

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