The Role of Public Participation in Governance towards Achieving Sustainable Development. Part 2


Public participation aimed at improving the effectiveness of governance by involving citizens in governance policy formulation and decision-making processes. It was designed to promote transparency, accountability and effectiveness of any modern government. Although Kenya has legally adopted public participation in day-to-day government activities, challenges still cripple its effectiveness as documented by several scholars. Instead of reducing conflicts between the government and the public, it has heightened witnessing so many petitions of government missing on priorities in terms of development and government policies. Results show that participation weakly relates with governance hence frictions sustainable development. Theoretically, public participation influences governance efficiency and development, directly and indirectly, thus sustainable development policy and implementation depends on Public participation and good governance. However, an effective public participation in governance is has been fractioned by the government. Instead of being a promoter/sponsor of public participation, the government of Kenya has failed to put structures that would spur participation of citizens in policy making and other days to activities. This has brought about wrong priority setting and misappropriation of public resources; The government officials and political class interference ultimately limit public opinion and input effects on decision-making and policy formulation, which might be an inner factor determining the failure of public participation in Kenya. The study suggests the need for strengthening public participation by establishing an independent institution to preside over public participation processes.

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Results and Discussion This section of the paper presents discussions on the key findings of the study. The key findings emanating from this study fall into the following thematic areas, indicating legitimacy of purpose; leadership characteristics; governance structure; communication; partner/role-player’s characteristics; Interpersonal relation/level of trust; partner/role-player’s learning outcomes; and motivation. Each of these themes is further discussed below in detail. This section presumes from the analysis of the descriptive statistics of the variable constructs and their respective parameters as enshrined in Table 1. According to the table, the selected sample for analysis is 384. At the same time, about the mean, the most volatile activity is the budgeting process with mean values of 4.82 and willingness (with mean value 4.23) in PP, enabling environment (with mean value 3.57) in government and development funds (with mean value 2.31) in sustainable development. These values imply that due to increasing willingness for the public to participate in state policymaking, an enabling environment by the state is created and associated with the allotment of development funds to spur sustainable development. However, this does not holistically seem the case as demonstrated in further analysis. On the other hand, the confirmatory test by Table 1 displays measure validities of the constructs, namely; PP, government and sustainable development, and which have been parameterized using respective real variables. Initiating the analysis of Table 1, and starting with the endogenous variable measured by Priority and Development, we notice that its indicator parameters have respective factor loading coefficients as -0.91 and 0.48, and which are above (or close to) the 0.5 cut off measure. This means the indicator is significantly signposting sustainable development, whereas, the constructed variable having the Cronbach alpha 0.73 is also significant as depicted by its CR statistic 0.701 which approximates the 0.7 cutoff measure for a composite variable to be a valid measure. With the exogenous one, we have PP and Government which have been constructed using the respective indicators. For PP, the indicator bears significant factor loading coefficients approximately equal to or greater than the 0.5 endpoint measure and implying that the indicators consequentially constructs the PP score. The constructed PP score with the Cronbach alpha weight 0.82 is also well integrated based on the Cronbach reliability coefficient of 0.86 which is outrightly greater than the 0.7 cutoff point. For the Government construct, it can be seen that out of the 5 indicator parameters, it’s only PP law, Public interference and Enabling Environment that bears significant factor loading weights. That of Designated venues/Notification is weakly insignificant/significant and implying that they may disenfranchise the construction of the Government score. However, the integration of the 5 variables still significantly designates the Government constructed score index with a cumulative weight of 0.79 and significant. Generally, the CFA executed for measure validation point that the greater than 0.5 cutoff point for the factor loadings supports the fact that the majority of the real variables sufficiently measures their respective latency. Besides, PP and sustainable development may strongly measure their constructs unlike the weak effect by Government in which indicators like designated venues and Notification are apparently insignificantly indicating. In regard to the general model fit, the significance of the Chi-Square statics is not only enough due to its sensitivity on sample size [1], and calling for other model fit diagnostics. Thus, the closer to 0.9 cutoff CFI index, the significant root mean square error, the greater than 0.5-factor loadings coefficient, and the composite reliabilities that are either above or close to 0.7 cutoff point strengthens that the convergent validity of the model is acceptable [1-3]. This analogy, therefore, favours further analysis which is initiated with the imploration of path analysis that holistically decomposes the underlying correlational paths/direction of influence on both parameters and constructs objectively done to aid demonstration of both the weight of the settings and causeway. Table 1 Confirmatory test analysis Construct / Indicator parameter Cronbach Statistic Cronbach (CR) Factor Loading Z-statistic Public participation 0.815(0.856) Public awareness 0.563*** 15.80 Understanding PP 0.501*** 13.56 Willingness 0.476*** 12.73 Budgeting Process 0.682*** -24.72 Facilitation -0.592*** -16.04 Public attendance 0.622*** 21.22 Government 0.799(0.875) Enabling Environment 0.489*** 12.99 Designated venue -0.42* -0.92 Public interference 0.728** 38.53 Notification -0.182 -1.09 PP Law 0.595*** 17.93 Sustainable Development 0.738(0.701) Priority -0.917*** -56.32 Development funds 0.482*** 12.93 LR Chi-square statistic = 358.45**; RMSEA=0.069; CFI=0.895; SRMR=0.071. Cronbach is the Cronbach alpha. Bracketed statistics are the respective variable constructs reliabilities (CR), the rest of the statistics presented are the coefficients while the *, **, and *** are the 10,5 and 1% significance respectively. LR is the likelihood ratio, RMSEA, the root mean square error of approximation, and CFI the comparative fit index. Thus, according to path analysis in Figure 1, demonstrated, are some significant directed path dependencies. Regarding PP, the path by Public awareness, Public attendance, willingness and the budgeting process bears a significant causal path to PP except for facilitation with a statistically insignificant negative coefficient. A large proportion of these indicators suggest a significant influence on PP. The implication is that awareness by the civic of the PP process is likely to facilitate their desire and attendance. However, the negative path by facilitation connotes the fact that citizens have to be assisted with various packages to attend the participation process that however yields a negative correlation. This may undesirably weaken the overall positive influence of PP on the Government. With sustainable development, both priority and development funds demonstrate significant causality paths to the construct. Their high significance with relatively large coefficient weights reflects their strong influence in sustainable development that, guided priority and autonomous access/presence of funds for development plays a key role in sustainable development. More, the strong contribution made by indicators of PP and sustainable development in this part coincides similar-consequentially greater effects by the same indicators to their respective constructs in the CFA test. However, the negative but strongly significant coefficient (-1.1) amid PP and sustainable development implies that despite the two validly relating, they correlate negatively. For Government, a significant causal path indicates them as all positive but stronger for PP law and weakest for designated venues. In comparison, notification and designated venues which seem to insignificantly construct the Government score in the CFA above are hereby valid with significant causal paths. The evidence should be adding to the strength of their measure validity. Furthermore, variable constructs display mixed causality paths; that is, between PP, government, and sustainable development. The most promising causality is the correlative backdrop between PP and sustainable development and with an enormous weight suggesting to paramount-coordinated mutual relationship amid the two variables for stable government coexistence. However, the underlying connection is negative and implying the discrepancies of the socio-political regimes and institutions. A similar-real but unpalatable underlying effect is demonstrated from both PP and sustainable development with weak weights. However, the literature supports that although there may underlay some causal trail by path analysis and coinciding with the data generating process, this may not go in support of the genuine relationship in the empirical field. Literature raises the need for further exploitation of causality direction in the constructs and is specifically investigated with the hypothesis of the current study demonstrated in Figure 11. In this line, these constructs that generalise parameters of greater interest are however linked by some hypothetical statements describing the impact on to target variable. Thus, for between and within the constructs, the following hypothesis connoted as H1-H4 are designed, and impact tested as for Figure 1. H1-Public participation in the governance-policy formulation and implementation processes significantly impact the government, H2-civic involvement in state policymaking process meaningfully causes sustainable development, H3-the state via sustainable governance activities considerably induces sustainable development, H4-the public participation-good governance mutual correlation supports substantial sustainable development. Fig. 1. Path Analysis of PP, government, and sustainable development. n=384; LR-Chi-square (431.4) = Probability 0.000; RMSEA=0.083; CFI= 0.694; SRMR=0.702. The statistics presented on the path diagram are the coefficients, while the *, **, and *** are the 10,5 and 1% significance respectively. LR is the likelihood ratio, RMSEA, the root mean square error of approximation, and CFI the comparative fit index Therefore, Figure 1 demonstrates the outcome due to SEM regression of the estimated hypothesis using the maximum likelihood function (MLE) and bootstrap function in Stata 15 for H1-H3. The PCA[7] the component that encompassed the interactive terms by the two variable constructs (PP and government) while yielding a significant KMO statistic is implored in regard to H4. The 1% significant LR-Chi square statistic (431.4) does not wholesomely point to the sufficiency of the model and raising the need for other test diagnostics. The significant RMSEA (0.083), the high CFI (0.694), and valid SRMR (0.702) demystify the misfit issue which may not be well depicted in the case of only the LR statistic. Therefore, the fitted model suits the data with the contention that the fitted model best captures the hypothesis. Similarly, the relatively higher squared multiple correlations (R-squared) value (0.671) points that over 67% of the variation is accounted for by the fitted model and adding to the fitness of the model. Besides, the KMO statistics of 0.7 confirms that the fitted model by PCA also befits the underlying interactive backdrop of the data generating process. In this faith, we proceed to analyze hypothesized correlation amid the three constructs - that is, PP, government, and sustainable development captured as the main aims of this work. Conclusively, and based on significant statistics from the same (Figure 1), we read some certainly important parameters for construct generalization. Observed parameters like public awareness, public attendance, willingness and the budgeting process critically generalize PP as Government is significantly generalized by political interference, designated venues, notification and PP law as the statistically significant parameters. For sustainable development, priority and development role play to generalize the latency in development. In addition, the likely identified causality paths from the above may be shadowing the hypothesized postulations, shorthand as; PP to be significantly impacting government for H1, civic involvement meaningfully causing sustainable development (SD) for H2, the state considerably inducing SD for H3, and that the PP-Government interaction process substantially supporting SD. The errand in Figure 2 aims to explicate these postulations. Consequently, Figure 2[8] regarding the operationalization of the four hypotheses consequentially points to some significant output. For H1, it generally postulates for a significant effect by the public in participating in the government policymaking process and implementation of projects. But, insights of the coefficient for H1 in Figure 2 seems to consequentially point out differently. The coefficient is -0.003 and insignificant at any rule of thumb for missing consequential contribution of public input in governance. The coefficient is weak and insignificant, which indicates the fragility nature of the public and government in regard to civic input in the state policymaking process. The weak and largely insignificant effect of public input in governance has literature ascribing to it. In contradiction, J. [4] reported a consequential effect of PP in government and noted the need for collecting and processing public input as a fundamental aspect in making government effective. Other studies found that the awareness of the public and willingness influenced PP and governance [3-8]. Regarding H2, it postulated a valid effect from PP to sustainable development which, indication by Figure 2 supports. The coefficient is 0.463 and significant that public involvement is a critical ingredient in sustainable development and that participation by the public is inevitable for sound socio-economic development. The 1% statistical significance should be depicted to the greater importance of PP in sustainable development errands. By this, the need to create an autonomous awareness of the importance of civic involvement and understanding the process, building a positive involvement attitude more so without unnecessary facilitations, and dispense their views/inputs in relevant public agendas should be unwavering. In addition, the significance of H2 is an indication of the will of the people towards policymaking involvement. Their understanding and awareness heighten their attendance to participate in government policies that are prioritized and allotted funds that yield positive relationships in case of plausible management, and accountability to cause the resulting connection. Such positive relation is supported [3, 7-9]. The third hypothesis which generally postulated that government consequentially impact SD also seems to be coherent with respective output in Figure 2. Thus, for H3, the coefficient is 0.341, significant at 10% and positive to imply that government heightens sustainable development. However, the coefficient is weakly significant to mean that despite the underlying expectations of the Government to SD, the pragmatic impact is weak and nearly disgusting. More, the PP moderated effect to SD by Government may be undesirable and incongruent (as depicted by the weak coefficient 0.341 at 10% significance), and demonstrating the fact that the interference and ineptness of the socio-political regime de-catalyzes an optimum environment over which PP can feasibly sustain development. That is evident with the fact that various positively impacting parameters by PP construct to support the structures over which the government calibrates the scale. Through this, government avails venues and creates an enabling environment, implements participation law, and provides timely notice which increases sustainable development [9-11]. Importantly to note, all three studies confirm that PP contributes to access to development resources. For instance, PP increases access to better Medicare and other basic needs of livelihoods when government prioritize urgency and prudence response. Further, it’s implied that provision of an enabling environment among designated venues for PP, notifying the public of forthcoming PP programs, and enshrining legal requirements of the law for public involvement for SD are unfeasibly implicated while yielding positive but nearly unsatisfactory effects. The fourth hypothesis (H4) was grounded on expectations that PP and government interactively present a plausible backdrop over which any development implored is expected to be consequentially sustainable. The PP-Government correlation has the statistic 0.002 and is weak in both weight and statistical significance, an implication that the pragmatic relationship amid the civic and Government for a PP errand is far from the fundamental relation. However, the PP-Government integrated impact on sustainable development is apparently promising. The statistic (for H4) is -0.576 and strongly significant and implying, the cohesive correlation amid the PP-Government and creating their weakly positive bondage finally diminishes sustainable development with a strong offsetting effect. Thus, the underlying sustainable development is a subset of the poor relationship amid the client and host of participation. Specifically, the will of the people towards public policy involvement, their understanding, and awareness works collectively while heightening their attendance in participating in government decisions attracts the need for designated venues and enabling environment. In response to an early prepared informative notice and protected legal provision of their participation, the citizen’s contribution is imminent but often distracted by the need for facilitation. Although the resulting integrated effect may be slightly palatable, it is negatively impacting sustainable development. In the literature, the significance of the integrated correlation on SD as for H4 has garnered support [6; 12; 13; 8]. Fig. 2. Hypothesis analysis of PP, government, and sustainable development. n=384; LR-Chi-square (431.4) = Probability 0.000; RMSEA=0.083; CFI= 0.694; SRMR=0.702; R2=0.671. The statistics presented on the path diagram are the coefficients, while the *, **, and *** are the 10.5 and 1% significance respectively. LR is the likelihood ratio, RMSEA, the root mean square error of approximation, and CFI the comparative fit index. The double-headed arrow designates the interactional backdrop. Further, H4 was performed by the PCA component using an interactive variable term by the two constructs and yielding the KMO statistics as 0.698 An insight of above results regarding H1-H4 (and which refers to the regression in Figure 2) have noted an insignificant impact from PP to government (for H1) but significant from PP to SD (for H2) while that from Government to SD (for H3) and for the interactive backdrop (H4) are weakly and strongly significant in that order. However, the invalidity of H1, the weak coefficients weights and low significance levels (by H3 and the interactive coefficient) together with the divergence amid the pragmatic findings and the underlying expectations seemingly creates a confounding backdrop on the influence of PP in governance and SD. Further, this should be mystifying on consistency and robustness of reported impact concerning PP. The authors carried out robustness checkup but now, using citizen awareness about PP, knowledge on the budgeting process, designated venues for PP, government priority on people’s needs/demands, interference by government officials and political class, development fund allocation, creating enabling environment through civic education to empower citizens, giving timely notice for the PP event, facilitation by the government to all citizens if necessary, the existence of goodwill for PP by both the citizens and government and understanding the PP process. These indicator has been adopted in studies like [11; 7; 14; 12; 8] and proved to be significant. Thus, regression in Figure 2 was re-examined with replacement of variables; past citizen participation, value congruence and public service motivation (henceforth; PCP, VC and PSM respectively)[9]. With the exogenous variables, PCP (VC) replaced public attendance (public awareness) in that order while PSM was exchanged for designated venues for government construction. PCP and VC have been significantly implored in the socio-political literature where they have proved to be consistent in impact/effect [3; 15]. However, variable operationalization using the above variables in the SEM instructions had results displayed in Figure 3. Fig. 3. Robustness check-up results. n=384; LR-Chi-square (339.7) ***; RMSEA=0.067; CFI= 0.701; SRMR=0.801; R2=0.734 Based on findings in Figure 3, they seem not to differ much from those in Figure 2. The coefficient on H1 is -0.023 and insignificant to imply an inconsequential impact of civic input on government activities. H2 bears a 5% significant coefficient (0.519) and which implies that the contribution by the public towards SD is consequential as H3 bearing the coefficient of 0.639 depicts a significant and strong impact of Government on SD, and that, the government is an inevitable controller of the effect and processes of PP. Insights of correlation coefficient regarding PP-Government is 0.001 but significant for consequentially weak effect connoting to the tone amid the PP and government which may be positive. In addition, its effects are seemingly inconsequential in causing the desirable change in governance. However, if this relationship is groomed and integrated, constructed impact on H4 at -0.592 shows the general impact as to be negative and strongly happening to offset sustainable governance. A general conclusion of regression results implies that PP which is negatively affecting government is weakly actuating the impact for H1, as advancement by the first objective is consequentially actuated. PP also positively affecting SD with a strong weighting impact supports the significance of H2 as the second objective finds validity. The fact that under H3, government sufficiently moderates the indirect impact of PP on SD causes the feasibility of the third objective as the fourth objective explicating the importance of the correlational backdrop on SD is actuated with a significantly negative and strong impact. Importantly, these results replicating similar but consistent effect as in previous (figure 2) findings supports the robustness of the significance of PP and governance to sustainable development. Conclusion Holistic PP is inevitable in good governance and for sustainable socio-economic development. In the process, citizens gain platforms for which they present development proposals based on their socio-economic and geographical needs as the government gain insights and information for succinct policy making to support feasible long-run socio-political and economic environment. In Kenya, such stability between the public and the government seems imperfectly orchestrated with missing centralized system for citizen-needful service delivery, imprudence accountability of public resource and its utility, skewed policy program priority, imperfect governance structures and institutions among others. Inline, integration of the civic in such public policy processes seems to have been poorly underscored. In contrast, the government as the host has bulldozed and unfeasibly integrated public propositions in development programs. Besides, there seems to be little information in the public domain on citizen important role in public programs. Existing studies regarding the participation-development relationship or integration postulate mixed proposals that deter sound policy conclusions. The majority of home-grown studies have mainly concerned the factors supporting sustainable development, as some have missed the participation-good governance linkage. The studies generally negatively underscore the integration of PP in governance. This study fills the gap by investigating the impact of the relationship among variables; PP and government on sustainable development using the structural equation modelling on a primary data set from Kenya. The study contributes to the literature by examining the current challenges surrounding PP adoption. The most significant results revealed that PP weakly relates to governance, and consequently limits sustainability in development, while factors like public awareness and their willingness significantly determine the extent to be involved in the public decision-making process. The implication of the results demonstrates that interventions by Government officials and the political class ultimately limits public opinion and their input effects. That is failure by the government to give timely notice for participation, providing civic education, and ignoring public input on final decision negatively affects PP. Consequently, it may elbow out the priority on the implementation stage, hence having irrelevant and stalled projects in the future. In the process, resources are wrongly prioritized, thus negatively impacting sustainable development. Therefore, failure by the government to create an enabling environment for active PP has a long-run effect on growth. The study suggests the need for institutionalization of PP through establishing/creating the Office of Public Participation Rapporteur (OPPP) in the process of institutionalization to smoothen PP and facilitate consultations in the decision-making process. Consequently, since the Kenyan government is devolved, the rapporteur can be established across all political units in the devolved system with the same functions. Thus, policies promoting civic education, their empowerment and involvement in governance participation and those objectively incorporating the political class in the governance process can be formulated. Also, constitution enshrinements can be implemented by this office. Running public utility development should be like any other business idea that is put under incubation, allowed to mature as experts’ research on the implications, benefits, timing and plans. In this regard, PP can offer fresh ideas on policies and projects that government would adopt. Depending on the needs (i.e., short/long term), the plans are taken through stages. This implies that policies that would continually ensure active civic participation may be implemented under the supervision of the rapporteur but in co-operation with other government institutions. Also, PP should be a critical aspect in spheres such as the comprehensive development programs (CDPs), especially for the densely populated rural areas. If feasibly implemented, such programs are likely to offset underdevelopment, increase employment, and alleviate poverty levels among other social contributions. Therefore, it is likely to positively influence the citizen’s participation and improving economic development. Despite the current study not studying the influence of PP in CDP, future studies may incorporate the relationship or impact of citizen participation and the comprehensive rural development programs to empirically gauge the extent to which sustainable development hasten good governance. Limitation of this study Public participation is a subset of the socio-political and administrative discourse which is continually dynamic in response to changing socio-political regimes and demands/aspirations. This may affect the dynamism of civic views/opinions and participation input. The current study which largely concentrated on the effectiveness of PP and governance for sustainable development relied more on first-hand data collected from sample frame who out rightly postulates dynamic information that may imperfectly align the demands of the socio-political discourse and sustainable development. This dynamism is likely to limit the reliability of the feedback concerning questionnaires by the study so that future studies may take this a concern.


About the authors

Maurice S. Nyaranga

Jiangsu University

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1127-0789

Student of the Department of State and Municipal Management

Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, P.R. China, 212013

Chen Hao

Jiangsu University

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2581-2940

PhD, Professor, School of Management

Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, P.R. China, 212013

Duncan O. Hongo

Jiangsu University

ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1069-7238

Master (Statistics), School of Management

Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, P.R. China, 212013


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