A coordination center for the commons

A coordination center for the commons

The approval of the so-called Bologna Regulation on the collaboration between citizens and public administrations for the care and regeneration of urban commons has given impulse to a local regulatory movement. Having greatly contributed to the drafting of this regulation I could not be less happy to see public collaboration ideas spreading. Unfortunately to elaborate and pass a reform is not sufficient in order to recognize and protect the commons.This subject requires a cultural change in the administration of public and private goods and implies the shift from government logic, centered on the bipolar paradigm, to governance logic (1) based on the circular subsidiarity paradigm (2). Moreover it requires also a shift of methodological approach, from theoretical to experimental. The cultural leap needed by the commons highlights the necessity to create several kinds of initiatives to persuade, train, follow and assist public administrations and its officials in the concrete application of the model of shared administration of the commons. By doing so it will be possible to promote the paradigm of the governance in which the practice of the shared care of the commons is part.

The “institutional communication” of the commons

This means that for promoting the spread of a culture of the governance of the commons is necessary to restart from the tools of the “institutional communication” intended as public policy centered on the one hand on the sharing of a common worldview, on the other hand on the governance of the networks and the valorization of the energies of the society.This proposal requires the creation of a “space” or “hub” in which the public administration that intend to be involved could get techniques of governance of the commons. This in the perspective to provide activities of “learning-intervention” based on the alternation between class and field to their employees.The educational method adopted aims to combine: a) dispensation, also via computer, of lessons of technical/operational kind and high professional level; b) support in the project management and practical experimentation of the models of governance of the commons; c) elaboration and spread of the results of the activities, research and analysis made within these experimentations.The final objective is the establishment of a coordination center for the governance of the commons. A public-private institution able to promote and support, mainly the public administration, in the achievement of experiences of governance of the commons. It will be necessary a cultural dissemination within public administration in order to raise the general competences for involving citizens in the implementation, maintenance and financing of the commons.

The coordination center for the commons.

The initiative of the creation of a coordination center should be taken at national level by an institution, preferably with the financial support of the private sector for complying better with the governance spirit. The principal partners of the coordination center should be, on the one hand national, regional and local administrations; on the other hand citizens and operators committed in their everyday life in the research of shared solutions and economic-financial sustainability of the commons, elements inseparable for the survival of the shared care of the commons.

The main objective of the coordination center should be to promote dialog, sharing of competences, information and experiences among all persons interested in the creation of al real partnership between institutions and community, for the protection, recovery, maintenance and management of the commons.

The “learning-intervention” of the commons 

Besides traditional learning activities, the coordination center should be also the instrument for allowing the public administration interested to know and share best practices with other administration.

Moreover the public administrations could use the coordination center for obtaining the necessary assistance from professor/tutors that place side by side in the learning activities and in the experimentation on field with methods and tools of governance. Thus the professor/tutor could test the competences given during the period of education.

In other words, it will be not a traditional education in class. The “learning-intervention” as well as planned, requires training activities based on the mentoring in the daily life of the project for the careful to the need of each administrations (3).

The public operators would be prepared both to “think” theoretically about operations of governance of the commons and to “act” as professional of the governance of the commons. They would be able to be a public counterpart technically equipped to establish a partnership with the private counterpart, to create relations with all institutional levels and finally to manage network of alliance between institutions and civil society.

Toolkits and continuous mentoring

Moreover, the training and cultural mentoring should not finish in the phase of the dispensation of the learning- intervention. This should be continuous. One of the most important activities for spreading this cultural model would consist in the elaboration, starting from the weaknesses found during the learning and experimental activities, of handbooks of instructions to apply the reforms and follow the constant evolution of technical, juridical and financial-economic instruments that carachterized the governance of the commons.

Starting from the weaknesses that emerge in the relation between professor-tutor and participants to the activities of learning and experimentation, it will be possible to elaborate documents that shall be used as guidelines. These documents should be as “tool chests” where inside there are the necessary instruments for planning, building and replicating a project of governance of the commons. Among the instrument there should be practical instructions, strategies, turning-point, methods applied, collection of rules (partnership agreements, business plan, and regulation), best practices, methods used by the administration and results.

Finally should be planned all the actions and measures necessary to support the public officials in their everyday life use of the tool chests. One possible solution could be the tutoring at distance in the development and implementation of the practice of governance. The tutoring at distance is useful on the one hand to foster the public officials and shore up his/her motives in the management of a project of governance of the commons. On the other hand to improve the tool chests updating them continuously according to the various administrative and market issues.

A story that never ends, as the commons.

To sum up, the cycle of the activities of the  coordination center for the governance of the commons would be a continuous process and would be articulated in three phases.

The first phase would be the traditional learning process, also with the support of telematics. The second phase would consist in the experimentation on field of the models of the governance of the commons, in order to make in conjunction with participants and administrations, pilot cases that may become laboratories for the governance of the commons. The third phase should be devoted to the elaboration of the handbook of instructions and the continuous assistance and mentoring on how to use them. The aim is to infuse the culture of the governance into the care of the commons and in the relative decisional process. In the everyday life application of the reform he public officials have to be supported in the resolution of the problems that could emerge within a project of governance of the commons.

In a second moment for consolidating the results of the learning-intervention could be created a format through the best practices on national level applying the principles and the models of the governance of the commons.

The experimentation of these ideas is yet started in the LabGov – Laboratory for the Governance of the Commons. It is open for all those who want to contribute to the narration of this good story, a story that could never ends, because it is about the commons.

Christian Iaione, director of Labsus, the Laboratory for subsidiarity and coordinator of Labgov.


(1) Contrary to government thecniques, those of the governance are characterized by parity, horizontality and openness towards territorial community, civic society and private sector, and are based on the collaboration among several actors (institutional, social and entrepreneurial) in order to create partnership devoted to the shared realization of common ends. The partnership permits to abandon the logic of contraposition between public and private, national and loca interests with the final aim to create a network of alliance about the public choice. Broadly to apply the principles and thechniques of the governance to the issue of the commons. M.R. FERRARESE, La governance tra politica e diritto, Bologna, 2010, p. 149 ss.; also C. IAIONE, La localizzazione delle infrastrutture localmente indesiderate: da soluzioni di government a soluzioni di governance, in G. ARENA, F. CORTESE, Per governare insieme: il federalismo come metodo, Padova, 2011, p. 203 e ss.

(2) G. ARENA, Cittadini attivi, Roma-Bari, 2006, p. 6.

(3) G. VETRITTO, Per una nuova professione pubblica: il broker istituzionale, in Risorse umane, 2009, p. 19