In this chapter we reflect on different pathways leading to collaborative forms of public service delivery between citizens and governments: bottom-up and top-down. Bottom-up pathways are initiated and for an important part led by groups of citizens, while top-down pathways are initiated and led by government institutions. Both types can be characterized by certain potentials and pitfalls. In the growing literature on collaborative forms of service delivery it is important to take notice of these different, bottom-up and top-down pathways as they are characterized by different dynamics leading to specific challenges in implementation and assessment. Based on various literature on citizen participation, co-production and community based initiatives, key participation traps are discussed. We are going deeper into the why (motives), how (crucial capacities) and who (representativeness) question of bottom-up and top-down participatory efforts.

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van Meerkerk, I.F. (2019). Top-down versus bottom-up pathways to collaboration between governments and citizens. In Collaboration and Public Service Delivery: Promise and Pitfalls. Retrieved from