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This exploratory study is based on a grounded theory research performed with the intention to find new potential explanations for citizen participation to processes related to city innovation through public administration and e-governance initiatives.
Considering (1) the huge importance and amount of previous work on innovation, (2) the societal challenges with which we are confronted, most of them requiring multiple, system thinking type of knowledge and an interdisciplinary perspective, as well as (3) the need to transform our cities in better living and working places, one research question was raised: what does it take to make people more involved in the process of innovating a city, other than traditional factors previously investigated? It is a subject at the intersection of several fields and streams of research: public administration, innovative cities in terms of governance and e-government, civic participation and citizen science, researchers’ skills and competencies, inter and transdisciplinary research - a complex array of intertwined challenges.
The research objective was to find out if interdisciplinary orientation could be considered among the influence factors that explain citizen participation. The grounded theory method was applied, based on the inductive approach, to generate future hypotheses. The research is exploratory and qualitative; we conducted a semi-structured group interview with 18 researchers, to identify the most important traits of human innovation, followed by a survey with 30 researchers to measure their perceptions towards interdisciplinary research. Researchers were used as an extreme case selection unit for the initial formulation of our research hypothesis, having in mind their double quality – highly educated people and citizens.
Our pilot study findings indicate that interdisciplinary orientation could be a significant explanatory factor for citizen participation, but further quantitative testing is necessary.