Convened and organized by the GovLab, the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance was made possible by a three-year grant of $5 million from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as well as a gift from Google.org, which allowed the Network to tap the latest technological advances to further its work.
Combining empirical research with real-world experiments, the Research Network studied what happens when governments and institutions open themselves to diverse participation, pursue collaborative problem-solving, and seek input and expertise from a range of people. Network members included twelve experts (see below) in computer science, political science, policy informatics, social psychology and philosophy, law, and communications. This core group was complemented by an advisory network of academics, technologists, and current and former government officials. Together, they assessed existing innovations in governing and experiment with new practices and how institutions make decisions at the local, national, and international levels.
Support for the Network from Google.org was used to build technology platforms to solve problems more openly and to run agile, real-world, empirical experiments with institutional partners such as governments and NGOs to discover what can enhance collaboration and decision-making in the public interest.
The Network’s research was complemented by theoretical writing and compelling storytelling designed to articulate and demonstrate clearly and concretely how governing agencies might work better than they do today.