Publications: Research reports and publications

Collaborative processes and the roles of council

10 October, 2013
Cawthron Report 2424. Prepared for Landcare Research and the Freshwater Values, Monitoring and Outcomes Programme C09X1003, funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment's Science and Innovation Group.


The New Zealand Government released the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management (NPSFM) in 2011 to provide direction on the outcomes it sought for freshwater quality and quantity. Councils are required to ensure that their regional plans contain objectives and limits, for both water quality and quantity, for all bodies of freshwater in their regions.

In future, councils may choose to prepare or review freshwater policy statements and plans using collaborative planning processes, if the Government's proposed amendments to the Resource Management Act 1991.

One of the key components to achieving successful outcomes from a collaborative process is identifying at the design stage the different, quite distinct roles that council staff play in such processes. Different roles will require different skill sets and are likely to involve a number of people across the organisation. More importantly, if a person has multiple roles, both they and the other participants may become confused as to which role is being performed at any given time.

The published literature on public administration, bureaucratic behaviour and regulatory theory identifies four broad roles that agency personnel might play in a collaborative process: leader, facilitator, stakeholder, and expert / analyst. This paper discusses each of these roles in turn and presents examples from a collaborative planning process that is underway in Hawke's Bay. We then provide recommendations on how councils can manage the likely tensions between the various roles that they play in collaborative processes.