Mario Paris is an Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work at the Universite de Moncton, New Brunswick. His research interests are in community building and aging. He studies age-friendly cities and communities program in Quebec, as well as on the national and international level. He is also interested in community housing arrangements for older adults. Finally, in order to bring the university closer to the people, he is participating in a research group that gathers together researchers and older adults in a co-constructive approach: Groupe de recherche intergénérationnel sur le vieillissement de l’Estrie.
Collaborative Governance to Meet the Challenge of Aging: The Case of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities in Quebec
The goal of our presentation is to explain the collaborative governance within Age-Friendly Cities in Quebec. Doing so, we use the Ansell and Gash model (2008) on collaborative governance to illustrate the research results.
A multiple case studies of four very different municipalities within the Age-Friendly Cities was financed by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Two evaluation models were used during this research: realistic evaluation (Pawson & Tilley, 1997) and developmental evaluation (Patton, 2011). Data collection used seven strategies: 13 group interviews (N 91); 20 individual interviews; 12 direct observations; 38 collaboration questionnaire; 37 network questionnaire; 59 documents analysis. In order to seize the complexity of the cases studied, the analysis strategies are organized in an iterative process between data collection and analysis.
Collaborative governance had emerged as an important condition of success for Age-Friendly Cities in Quebec. In this presentation, we look at collaborative governance through four conceptual dimensions (Ansell and Gash, 2008).
Starting conditions: Our results show that inequalities in resources, as well as in power relationships, exist between different actors on the steering committee, but also within the same group of actors. In addition, the Age-Friendly Cities process offers the conditions to incite actors to engage in improving the quality of life of older adults, but the engagement is not guaranteed if the starting conditions change. Our results show that the relationship among the members of the steering committee are based on openness and sociability.
Facilitative leadership: If the leadership can be expressed by a hierarchical position of an actor upon the other actors, another kind of leadership is also present. This one is built on respect and trust that one actor inspires others by her or his efficiency.
Institutional design: The institutionalization of the guidelines of the Age-Friendly City processes can increase the degree of municipal bureaucratization and of new formal and informal procedures created to improve the functioning of collaborative governance.
Collaborative process: The Age-Friendly Cities in Quebec provides a clear and structured process of collaborative governance. We observed five variables around this process: 1) face-to-face dialogue, 2) trust building, 3) commitment to the process, 4) share understanding, and 5) the intermediate outcomes.
We can affirm, from our numerous examples and explanations, that the Ansell and Gash (2008) model constitute a conceptual framework appropriate to understand the complexity of the Age-Friendly Cities in Quebec.