Outsourcing Participatory Democracy: Critical Reflections on the Participatory Budgeting Experiences in Taiwan


This article attempts to critically examine the experiences of participatory budgeting (PB) that have proliferated across Taiwan’s cities over the past three years. It is argued that PB in Taiwan remains an isolated initiative instead of an integral part of a comprehensive administrative reform. What makes Taiwan’s PB experiences theoretically interesting is that, in most cases outside the Taipei City, the tasks of promoting PB, designing the procedure of participation, and organizing and mobilizing lay citizens have been contracted out to NGOs or teams led by scholars.

In light of the analytical framework of state power - political society - civil society, this article argues that (1) PB in Taiwan takes place in the absence of active support from civil society and confronts a political society that is hostile to or skeptical of PB; (2) the “outsourced” model of PB generates incentives for the commissioner to evade administrative and political responsibilities, and imposes structural constraints on the performance of the contractor regarding mobilization, organizing and deliberative quality; and (3) the future of PB in Taiwan depends on whether the current modus operandi of PB will give way to a more comprehensive institutional reform and whether a growing number of active citizens and civil society organizations can fill the new political space created by PB that may otherwise be occupied by vested interests and political elites.


outsourcing, political sociology, democratic innovation, participatory budgeting

How to Cite

Wan P., (2018) “Outsourcing Participatory Democracy: Critical Reflections on the Participatory Budgeting Experiences in Taiwan”, Journal of Public Deliberation 14(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.16997/jdd.297







Poe Yu-ze Wan (National Sun Yat-sen University)



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