Participatory budgeting as a social innovation: motives and outcomes of enactment: based on the example of the city of Tartu
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The diffusion of Participatory Budgeting (PB) at a local level has attracted the attention of many researchers. PB has been invented in Porto Alegre, Brazil during the time of redemocratization of Brazil in 1989. Afterwards, it has been diffused globally and currently it exists in almost all continents. The diffusion of policies and social innovation is quite widespread and one policy can be applied to various kinds of contexts which, in their turn, can be quite different from each other. The current study explores the diffusion of PB at a local level, how it travels around the world and more specifically, how, why and with what results it was adopted in the city of Tartu in Estonia. The main aim of the thesis is to understand what drove the adoption of PB in Tartu and whether the expectations of city government and NGO from PB enactment have been met or not. The theoretical framework of the thesis is built on the existing literature about PB diffusion drivers around the world, starting from Brazil until Africa. Based on the existing theories, the main expectations of this study were that Tartu city government adopted PB for the purpose of gaining more popularity and votes as well as for increasing levels of citizen participation and awareness. Moreover, it was supposed that the city government wanted to find better practical solutions for various problems the city has. The research has been conducted using qualitative methods of research, relying on elite interviews with employees of Tartu city government and e-Governance Academy as the main source of empirical information. In order to ensure the validity of the research results, a triangulation of data was applied, combining statistical data and information from media articles with key-informant interviews. The results have shown that PB enactment in the city of Tartu was a result of a cooperation between an NGO (e-Governance Academy) and the city government of Tartu, both of them having the same objectives. The main incentives of PB implementation in the case of Tartu were citizen engagement and citizen education about the budgeting process of the city. During the six years of PB experience at Tartu (2013-2018) 3 only one of the main objectives has been met, which is the citizen engagement, as, every year the number of citizens interested in the process of decision-making is being increased. At the same time, PB failed to be a tool of citizen education about the budgeting process. This largely due to the fact, that only a very limited budget was allocated for the process, and there were not many opportunities for citizens to have a broader picture of the whole budgeting process of the city. In sum, this study contributes to the field of PB diffusion at a local level, and its results can be applied both in and outside of Estonia for understanding the objectives and possible results of PB enactment.