Global governance and communicative action: a study of democratic participation during planning for the Lyon–Turin rail link

Date01 May 2015
Published date01 May 2015
Academic Paper
Global governance and communicative
action: a study of democratic participation
during planning for the LyonTurin rail
Judy Burnside-Lawry*and Lisa Ariemma
School of Media and Communication, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Organisationstakeholder engagement during planning of a high-speed rail link between France and Italy is
described and analysed in this paper. Conceptualising organisationcitizen engagement as a form of deliberative
democracy,the studys theoretical framework draws upon literature from communication, social and political science.
Following a review of governance for transnational organisationstakeholder engagement, communication methods
used by one transnational organisation, Lyon-Turin Ferroviaire (LTF), to engage in discursive legitimacywith
affected parties, is studied. A qualitative case study approach examines whether LTFs engagement with stakeholders
provides opportunities for democratic participation rather than creating a democratic decit in the public sphere.
Results point to a lack of mechanisms through which transnational policy makers can be held accountable-leading in
this case, to a legitimacycrisis for institutions involved, threatening their ability to justify the economic and transporta-
tion viability of the project. This article is of interest to academics in communication and social sciences, managers
working in an international context and communication professionals. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
In the last decade, there has been progressive
institutionalisation of the r ights of citizens to engage
in decision making. In an era of change and uncer-
tainty, policy makers recognise the need for public
participation to engage community voices in the
development of sustainable solutions to social,
environmental and economic problems. The OECD
Citizens as Partnersreport (2001), asserts that
engaging citizens in policymaking isa sound invest-
ment and a core element of good governance it
contributes to building public trust in government,
raising the quality of democracy and strengthening
civic capacity(Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development, 2001.p. 11);whereas the European
Union, 2007 Treaty of Lisbon, in its article 8B, adopts
the principle of participatory democracy. Despite
the continued development of participatory rhetoric,
we do not nd these principles systematically and
effectively implemented to the same degree
everywhere. This paper presents a study of organisa-
tionstakeholder engagement between transnational
rail company Lyon-Turin Ferroviaire (LTF), and
residents of Val Susa, a north-western Italian region
impacted by a proposed new high-speed rail line
managed by LTF. Results indicate that lack of public
participation in decision making during planning of
the high-speed rail line contributed to project delays,
costly legal proceedings and ongoing conict between
the organisation and its stakeholders.
The paper draws on literature from communica-
tion, social sciences and political theory to dene
terms used in relation to global governance,
organisationstakeholder engagement, deliberative
democracy and democratic participation, followed
by a summary of international policies related to
stakeholder engagement in decision making and a
*Correspondence to: Judy Burnside-Lawry, School of Media and
Communication, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.
Journal of Public Affairs
Volume 15 Number 2 pp 129142 (2015)
Published online 10 June 2014 in Wiley Online Library
( DOI: 10.1002/pa.1528
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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