Community participation and local government capacity in Vietnam: Conditions for coproduction

Date01 May 2019
Published date01 May 2019
Community participation and local government capacity in
Vietnam: Conditions for coproduction
Hung Viet Ngo
|Jurian Edelenbos
|Alberto Gianoli
Hanoi Architectural University, Hanoi,
Department of Public Administration &
Sociology (DPAS) and Institute for Housing
and Urban Development Studies (IHS),
Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam,
The Netherlands
Institute for Housing and Urban
Development Studies (IHS), Erasmus
University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Hung Viet Ngo, Faculty of Urban
Management, Hanoi Architectural University,
Km10, Nguyen Trai Street, Thanh Xuan
District, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam.
With Public Administration Reform in Vietnam comes more local government respon-
sibility for policy making. Building on the results of a multiple case study research on
housing and infrastructure upgrading projects in four cities of Vietnam, it has been
confirmed that the community participation and local government capacity in urban
housing and infrastructure upgrading projects are positively related. The level of com-
munity participation in urban housing and infrastructure upgrading projects is influ-
enced by local government capacity, and in turn, it has effects on the outcomes.
There are some important aspects for the enhancement of the level of community
participation. These are effective leadership, the financial resources aspect, and
communication/information exchange. Moreover, based on the patterns of commu-
nity participation in urban upgrading projects, it has been found that participation is
strongly supported by government actors in these four cases, and a process of copro-
duction between the local government and the affected communities has taken place.
community participation, coproduction, local government capacity, performance/outcomes,
During the last decades, the concept of participationhas been widely
used as part of the development discourse. In this phase, the concept
has referred to participation of citizens in the social arena, in the
communityor in development projects (Gaventa & Valderrama,
1999). Community, residents, and citizens are often used as inter-
changeable words that mean the involvement of people other than
public officials and professionals in the governmental domain. In the
area of neighborhood planning and upgrading, neighborhood improve-
ment and renewal have received considerable attention and funding in
many countries (Checkoway, 1985; Susskind & Elliott, 1983). Commu-
nity participation has played an important role in many revitalization
programs (see Churchman, 1987, for an extensive review).
The implementation of participatory processes is unable to facili-
tate effective collaboration unless new and fundamentally different
ways of thinking and working of governments are developed (Cavaye,
1999; Cuthill & Fien, 2005). There are important reasons for
encouraging the participation of the community sector. One reason
is that through community participation, the government can gain
more insights into local situations and needs and thus, can plan and
implement relevant programs and projects. Another reason is that
people are more likely to support government efforts if they are
actively involved in the development process. It is argued that partic-
ipation can lead to better outcomes but that governments need the
capacity to make participation projects really effective (Cuthill & Fien,
2005). However, this claim needs wider empirical investigation. Many
scholars such as FosterFishman, Berkowitz, Lounsbury, Jacobson, and
Allen (2001), Gargan (1981), and Burgess (1975) have mentioned and
defined the aspects of local government capacity. They have argued
that these aspects of local government capacity are important in the
participatory projects. However, they did not discuss mutual relation-
ships among these aspects. The purpose of this article is to investigate
the relationship between local government capacity and participation
processes and how this relationship influences the outcomes of urban
upgrading projects.
Received: 26 October 2016 Revised: 2 December 2018 Accepted: 4 December 2018
DOI: 10.1002/pad.1844
104 © 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Public Admin Dev. 2019;

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