The Art of Dialogue

Project: PostDoc

Project Details


In the 21st century ‘participation society’ civil servants interact continuously with individual citizens, societal organizations and companies on which they depend for the implementation of existing governmental policies and/or the co-creation of new policies for regional development and innovation. Research shows that the conversations through which such interactions take place rarely result in commonly accepted solutions. Instead, they easily lead to impasse, and even to tension, conflict and polarisation among participants. Apparently, civil servants’ competences and skills for engaging in constructive conversations in which shared meanings are developed as a basis for solutions fall short. This project stems from the deeply felt need on the side of our societal partners to improve capacities in this area, and from our scientific ambition to understand the dynamics of more and less constructive conversations and develop theoretically informed ways of supporting shared sense making.

For these purposes, this project analyses real-life interactions between governments and societal parties. Everyday conversations are studied in multiple cases with the aim of identifying patterns that either lead to stagnation and polarisation, or to bridging and convergence, including the mechanisms, strategies and contextual conditions underlying these patterns.

Findings will be translated into a training module on ‘The Art of Dialogue’ for complex problem-solving and regional innovation in 21st century contexts. The training module will include tools that help participants develop skills for 1) critical reflection on their own discursive behaviour, 2) becoming context sensitive, and 3) choosing appropriate conversation strategies in different governance settings.
Effective start/end date1/03/161/01/17


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