Policy As Conversation


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An experience of collaborative policy design of creative workspaces in the Basilicata region, in southern Italy. A proposed governance model for regional or territorial Living Labs.

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Policy As Conversation

  1. 1. Policy as Conversation Alberto Cottica Department of Economic Development Regione Basilicata Italy
  2. 2. Presentation Structure <ul><li>A policy problem </li></ul><ul><li>Rethinking policy (and the people within it)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Signalling for quality and mutual recognition </li></ul><ul><li>Harvesting and sharing information </li></ul><ul><li>Results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Diagnosis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pilot projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The policy solution </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lessons for a regional Living Lab governance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>At the level of the policy process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At the level of the solution </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. The Mandate <ul><li>Implementing “creative workspaces” in Basilicata </li></ul><ul><li>4,3 Meuro budget for capital expenditure (bricks-and-mortar)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>No budget for ongoing activities </li></ul><ul><li>Basilicata is a lagging region, sparsely populated </li></ul><ul><li>An inter-institutional task force (central and regional administration) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Difficulties <ul><li>Local markets are very thin (less than 600K inhabitants in the region; two small cities with 60K each)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Basilicata's creatives tend to be self-referential and aid-dependent; some are rent-seeking </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainability of workspaces seems a long way off </li></ul><ul><li>Any progress on this ground requires very active, up front involvement of local creatives </li></ul><ul><li>A new deal: sustainability in return for far better infrastructures? </li></ul>
  5. 5. What we needed to overcome them <ul><li>Rethink policy as a conversation, and creatives as trustworthy adults. Give up some control (e.g. campaign for decision criteria rather than imposing them)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Solve a credibility problem (bad narrative on public policy as inefficient and corrupt) and establish ourselves as credible partners </li></ul><ul><li>creatives must recognize each other as potential allies and colleagues worth of respect </li></ul><ul><li>everyone involve must recognize that change is possible </li></ul>
  6. 6. Signalling for Mutual Recognition <ul><li>A project brand (Visioni Urbane) and identity as separate from the administration's (Be different, look different)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Insisting on transparency, meritocracy, sharing-oriented ethos </li></ul><ul><li>Non-ontological, peer-recommendation based definition of the creative community (including tech and communication companies and bloggers): 91 small companies and orgs </li></ul><ul><li>Styling the relationship between the administration and creatives as unselfish: no money handouts ever </li></ul><ul><li>A blog ( www.visioniurbanebasilicata.net ) as the main tool, signalling for transparency, openness and “speaking in a human voice” </li></ul><ul><li>Getting on board high profile figures (Bruce Sterling, La Fura dels Baus, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Torino Internazionale...), signalling for quality </li></ul>
  7. 7. Harvesting and Sharing Information <ul><li>Offline interaction: 5 workshops (Oct 2007-May 2008) structured as reporting sessions, providing final documents we could all agree on (and videos)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Raise the level of the debate to sell the idea that change is possible with the right kind of input. Culture shocks (Sterling, state-of-the-art examples of creative workspaces from all Europe)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Insist on social dimension. Encourage peer-to-peer interaction by coffee breaks, happy hours and parties </li></ul>
  8. 8. Results: Diagnosis <ul><li>creatives are reasonably competent in producing culture </li></ul><ul><li>need to improve in marketing and communication of cultural products </li></ul><ul><li>need to improve in command of technology (especially internet) geared to cultural production and marketing </li></ul><ul><li>need to improve business management skills </li></ul><ul><li>need to network more, especially with each other </li></ul><ul><li>(all of the above is subscribed by the creative community as of October 2007)‏ </li></ul>
  9. 9. Results: the Blog <ul><li>More than 100 unique visitors per day (everyone involved, every day!)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>88 posts and 618 comments (Sept 2007-May 2008)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>peaks before and after offline workshops </li></ul><ul><li>only one flame exchange </li></ul>
  10. 10. Results: Pilot Projects <ul><li>We decided to divert part if the funds to pilot projects to get the workspaces started and other non-brick-and-mortar activities (about 1,3 Meuro)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>“ Call for dreams”: 14 proposals flowed in and were posted on the blog </li></ul>
  11. 11. Results: The Proposed Solution The proposed solution: creative workspaces by area and theme
  12. 12. Lessons for a Regional LL Governance: the Policy Process <ul><li>Lack of funds for ongoing activities => focus on sustainability => demand for innovation </li></ul><ul><li>Innovation => new marketable cultural products (the notion of marketable is contingent and hyperlocal: e.g. Sterling's “technological cave”)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>A “no surrender” attitude on meritocracy helped to emerge an alliance between smart, hard working members of the community </li></ul>
  13. 13. Lessons for a Regional LL Governance: the Policy Solution <ul><li>More and better policy as conversation </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural strategy conference (2010?)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Governance structure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The creative community itself (via a social network, expansion of the blog)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Council of the wise” (à la STAG in Taiwan IT policy), expansion of the high profile figures within the policy design process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Committee formed by managers of workspaces bringing feedback from the trenches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The regional administration at the highest possible level </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Conclusions <ul><li>Policy as conversation has been able to achieve promising results in a difficult situation, restoring a healthier policy climate </li></ul><ul><li>A hitherto implicit demand for innovation has emerged in Basilicata, thanks to the “biting” sustainability constraint. This has attractive efficiency properties, and I propose it be considered as an alternative to the traditional innovation supply model of LLs </li></ul><ul><li>This approach is probably most useful to put to use the very many heritage buildings restored through URBAN </li></ul><ul><li>A problem: getting other administration departments (tourism, IT, infrastructures, even culture) involved is difficult, even with a short chain of command </li></ul>