Participatory Governance

Submitting Institution

Robert Gordon University

Unit of Assessment

Politics and International Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Political Science

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Summary of the impact

Research on participation in governance and related policy instruments, with a particular focus on interest organisations and groups, with strategic orientation of research publications towards impact, and evidence of use at the highest level in public policy reviews and public discourse/debate, as well as deliberations of advocacy groups.

Underpinning research

The key researchers are:

  • Justin Greenwood (RGU 1992-present, as Professor since 1996)
  • with Luis Bouza García (PhD 2008-award in 2012; supervisors — Greenwood and McLaverty; RGU Research Assistant with Greenwood, 2011)
  • Darren Halpin (RGU 2004-2011, as Professor since 2009, Visiting Professor 2010-2012)
  • Peter McLaverty (RGU 2001-present, as Reader since 2008).

Greenwood's research assesses the role of interest groups (and other organisations) in the EU political system (RR-1), on which he has published extensively including the monographs Inside the EU Business Associations (Palgrave, 2002), and Interest Representation in the EU (RR-2) (626 Google Scholar Citations GSC + 487 GSC for predecessor book), with 19 refereed journal articles since the available data commencement period for (c.400 GSC). His recent work on EU lobby regulation (RR-3) has been used in policy reviews of the European Commission and European Parliament at the highest level (section 4), and public debate.

Bouza García was employed as Greenwood's research assistant on a project funded by a small grant from the British Academy in 2011, assessing the extent to which the representative offices of regions in Brussels act as a link between EU institutions and local civil society (returned within Greenwood's REF2 output portfolio). Greenwood and Bouza García co-edited a special issue of Perspectives on European Politics and Society (13:3, 2012) (PEPS) on the new European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) and continue their collaboration through joint papers and articles. Bouza Garcia has published 4 refereed journal articles and 3 book chapters on EU participatory governance during the current assessment period.

Halpin's research is likewise concerned with interest groups and lobbying, in particular the role of organised interests in relation to policy coherence, and how public policy deliberations can find consensus in conflicted policy areas. Halpin's ESRC funded project in 2006-9 focused on unearthing the empirical patterns of organised interest - including citizen - engagement and participation in public policy consultations in Scotland (RR4-6). He is the editor or co-editor of two books and 10 articles in refereed journals in this field during the current review period (60 GSC).

References to the research

RR-1 J Greenwood, `Organised Civil Society and Democratic Legitimacy in the EU', British Journal of Political Science, 2007, 37/2, 333-357, (97 GSC)


RR-2 J Greenwood, Interest Representation in the European Union, 3rd edn. 2011, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan,, submitted in 2008 RAE; (585 GSC + 476 GSC for predecessor book)

RR-3 J Greenwood `The European Transparency Register: a vanguard of strong lobby regulation?' Interest Groups and Advocacy, 2013, 2/2, doi:10.1057/iga.2013.3


RR-4 D Halpin, Groups, Democracy and Representation: Between Promise and Practice 2010, Manchester University Press, (26 GSC)

RR-5 G Jordan and D Halpin, `The Political Costs of Policy Coherence? Constructing a "Rural" Policy for Scotland', Journal of Public Policy, 2006, 26/1, 21-41, (returned in RGU 2008 RAE submission)


RR-6 P McLaverty and D Halpin, `Deliberative Drift: the emergence of deliberation in the policy process', International Political Science Review, 2008, 29 197-214, doi: 10.1177/0192512107085612. (25 GSC).


Research grants:

• J Greenwood, Variated Civil Society: the Brussels offices of the regions, British Academy (SG101470), 2011-12, £7,144

• J Greenwood, The Governability of EU Business Associations, European Union Framework Programme V (High Level Scientific Conference Series, HPCF-CT-1999-00017), 1999-2002, €66,000

• D Halpin, 'The mobilisation of organised interests in policy making: access, activity and bias in the 'group system', ESRC (RES-000-22-1932), 2006-9, £92,142

• P McLaverty, Aberdeenshire Council Scrutiny and Audit Committee investigation into public consultation, communication and engagement. Aberdeenshire Council, Feb-June 2004, £3,000

• S Morris and P McLaverty, Development of public engagement with the work of the Scottish Parliament committees, Scottish Parliament, 2003-5, £28,020.

• S Vertigans and J Love, Scottish Muslims, Hindus and NHS (Scotland): A comparative study of the Health Interface, Scottish Health Council, £10,408.37, 2008-2012.

Details of the impact

Greenwood's review of the EU Transparency Register (RR3) attracted a significant blog exchange in May 2013 between European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič (IR-1) and Transparency International's Europe Office (IR-2), each of which cited the article extensively ahead of the opening of the official review of the launch in June 2013. Another EU NGO also made a number of references to RR3 as part of its campaigning report `Rescue the Register' released at the time of the review. Greenwood presented his work at an event in November 2013 (chaired by the respective European Parliament-Commission Vice Presidents) called by the working group on the review of the Register for an exchange of viewpoints with academics and experts in the domain of lobby regulation. Two stakeholder organisations made reference to RR3 in their (public) submissions to the Review ( register/ A variety of Twitter traffic accompanied the publication of RR3 and the blog exchange (available on request), including the Slovak embassy in the UK. The BBC Radio 4 programme series `File on 4' broadcast a programme on `Tobacco: the Lobbyists' on 16.7.2013 which used statistics published in RR3 ( The impact has continued beyond the census period, with continuing Commissioner citations at public events (available on request).

The launch event of the third edition of Greenwood's Interest Representation in the EU in Brussels in 2011 featured the Vice-President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, as keynote speaker. The event was attended by around 100 people. Martin Westlake, the Secretary General of the European Economic and Social Committee, blogged positively afterwards about his attendance at the event (IR-3): "What Justin and his guest speaker had to say was of great interest to me...a welcome reminder that there are others out there who are trying to flesh out the somewhat amorphous concept of participatory democracy."

In 2009 Greenwood was commissioned by the Jordi Pujol Foundation (Catalonia) to write an online article explaining the way in which the EU political system seeks to use organised interests as a pathway to a `participatory democracy'. (IR-4). He was interviewed by Chicago Public Radio in 2010 (MP3 file available on request) as part of a series of programmes looking at the influence of the American Chambers of Commerce outside of the USA. He was also invited by the EU- China programme secretariat in Beijing (a mechanism to provide support to China's integration into the world trading system) to present two seminars to Chinese government officials in 2010 on mechanisms of participatory democracy centred on interest groups (event cancelled due to extraneous circumstances).

Greenwood has been a long-standing participant in events hosted by the NGO European Citizen Action Service (ECAS), with requests to contribute research insights continuing beyond the census period. Within the current impact assessment period he has commented on an early draft of the ECAS Charter on European Citizenship ( at the invitation of the ECAS Director Tony Venables (April 2013; email on file CI 1), and delivered plenary addresses at `ECI Link' conference events that ECAS co-sponsored in Vienna (October 2012, at the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior, over 130 participants) and Brussels (November 2012, at the European Economic and Social Committee); the Brussels event was attended by over 180 civil society activists, academics, legal advisors and representatives of EU institutions ( webcast available at Bouza García contributed an article on the ECI to the El Pais newspaper's blog `Alternativas'. He collaborated with the Spanish think tank `Fundación Alternativas' and produced a paper on the ECI for them (IR-5). This paper was re- published by the `Fundación Alternativas' in the wake of the Spanish `15M' or `Indignados social' movement, as an instance of an institutional proposal to reconnect political processes with civil society. It was also posted on the blog of the Basque Ombudsman (IR-6) and the Newsletter of the Basque government (IR-7). One of his 2012 co-authored articles in PEPS has also been cited in a student blog on `Re-imagining Europe' ( ).

Greenwood also held a Brussels workshop in October 2011 attended by 30 practitioners from the regional offices to discuss preliminary results from the British Academy sponsored research. His impact on the `Brussels circuit' is reflected in the diverse training/seminar events he has been commissioned to undertake. These include:-

  • the External Relations Directorate of the European Commission for a half day internal training session on `Networking and lobbying' (Brussels, 2009) (26 participants);
  • the European Climate Change Foundation, as the keynote speaker at a dedicated seminar for their wider network of environmental organisations on NGO lobbying in the EU, with the Director of the WWF Brussels Policy Unit as discussant (Brussels, February 2011; c. 25 participants);
  • the Government of Catalonia (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) also commissioned training from Greenwood at their Brussels office in September 2011 on `the role of lobbying in EU decision making' (Brussels, September 2011; c. 25 participants); (repeat invitation for 2013 - event clash)
  • a day's training at the College of Europe Development Office `Intensive Seminar on the EU' (annually since 2002), and intermittent dedicated training events run by the Development Office (total attendance c. 900).

Greenwood's regular courses on Masters programmes at the College of Europe (where he has been a Visiting Professor since 2002) on `Interest Representation in the EU' and `Business Politics in the EU' have assisted an estimated 50 ancien in their subsequent employment in organisations engaging with EU institutions. His earlier work on business interest representation, reflected in his Inside the EU Business Associations (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001), has continued in impact terms through:

  • a sustained Brussels `Euroconference' event bringing together practitioners and academics to share perspectives on EU business associations. Greenwood established the event with two conferences in 2000 and 2002 from an EU Framework Programme `High Level Scientific Conference' series grant, bringing together 300 participants over both events, and subsequently passed the event over to a Brussels-based association management company, Kellen Europe, to operate on an annual basis (IR-8);
  • a co-facilitator role at a member event of the EU engineering association Orgalime in 2008, jointly with a PhD student/Brussels practitioner (c. 30 participants);
  • membership of the CBI Trade Association Forum (TAF) Final Awards judging panel (IR-9). The awards are aimed at developing best practice in a variety of categories; he has been invited to serve on the panel every year since 2003;
  • a keynote speaker role at the TAF Annual Conference in 2011 (estimated audience: 150).

Greenwood was a member of an ESRC awards panel (2006-2010) designed to incentivise training by postgraduate research students in Advanced Quantitative Research Methods. This resulted in him being commissioned by ESRC to evaluate the scheme and to make policy recommendations. The implementation of these is documented in an email sent to panel members of 5 February 2009 (available on request — CI 2) by the responsible departmental head at ESRC, entitled `Follow on to the Greenwood Report'. The changes include an increase in the amount of the training grant element, the removal of the award from the first year of study (when students are developing their ideas), and the concentration of studentships in centres with high quality quantitative training.

Halpin's research on lobbying by organized interests led to an invitation from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to be a panel member at a workshop on the `Economic and Trade Implications of Policy Responses to Societal Concerns' in 2009 (IR-10) (and beyond the census period at the Australian Parliament on lobby regulation). The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations invited him to give an extended presentation to the Policy Officers Forum on 27 August 2009. Results were also discussed with the Scottish Government's Office of the Chief Researcher and the Constitutional Policy and Civic Participation Team on 15 January 2008. Results were requested by the Scottish Government Library Service (on behalf of the Cabinet Communications Division) on 20 February 2011. His work on the participation of organized interests in Scottish Government consultations was featured in an article in the Government section of The Herald (Bella Gordon, `Who shouts the loudest?' 21.10.2008, p.18).

Sources to corroborate the impact

IR-1: Blog entry from European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič on 27.5. 2013

IR-2: Blog from Transparency International Europe Office on 27 May 2013

IR-3: Martin Westlake, `Justin Greenwood's Interest Representation in the European Union', Martin Westlake [blog]

IR-4: J Greenwood, `Lobbying or Participatory Democracy', El Centre d'Estudis Jordi Pujol (Jordi Pujol Foundation) [online]

IR-5: L Bouza García, `Democracia participativa, sociedad civil y espacio público en la Unión Europea' (Participatory democracy, civil society and public space in the European Union),
Fundación Alternativas [online] 23 December 2010 progreso/actividades/nuevo-documento-de-estudios-de-progreso-ep57-2010-democracia- participativa-sociedad-civil-y-espacio-publico-en-la-union-europea-por-luis-bouza-15948. In Spanish.

IR-6: Gaurko Agiri Berriak [blog of the Basque Ombudsman] 27 January 2011

IR-7: Eusko Legebiltzarra (Newsletter of the Basque government) [online] no. 190, 27 January 2011

IR-8: `Euroconference history', Kellen Europe [online]

IR-9: `2010 Best Practice Awards. Post Event Report', Trade Association Forum FINAL.pdf

IR-10: `Workshop on the Economic and Trade Implications of Policy Responses to Societal Concerns' Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [online]