Recommendation B (participation): Design participatory decision making for Resource Allocation
Principles is one thing, but the right decision making process is key for driving equity. To achieve knowledge equity we also need to design an equitable decision making process for resource allocation.
We recommend that existing decision-making processes be opened up to actors outside of the current decision makers. New decision-making participatory processes need to engage the strength, expertise and knowledge of communities impacted by resource allocation decisions. Communities which in the past have been only at the receiving end of resource allocation decisions, with no input in how those decisions are made, will continuously develop and adapt the decision-making processes in the future.
Participatory decision-making, making local knowledge (perspective, experience and expertise) the norm, will be the basis for mechanisms that will inform the design of our global priorities and resource allocation strategies. Principles which are important for this are outlined in the Resource Allocation principles recommendation.
By designing for participatory decision-making, we will strengthen decisions, have them match actual needs and priorities, and have them achieve relevant impact.
- Our projects are highly contextual, in that they record and display the world's knowledge. We are making the assumption that in order to actually achieve our mission (Every single human being… in their language) we need to have knowledge that represents the world in its entirety. In order to represent the world in its entirety, we need to make space for the knowledge that isn't there yet. In order to make that space, we need to allocate resources to the people who already are working with and within this knowledge so that they can tell us how Wikimedia projects best serve this knowledge.
- We acknowledge that mere access to participate in decision making does not ensure equity and a deliberate attempt must be made to ensure all voices pertaining to the accomplishment of our mission have a clear space in our decision making processes. . It is an assumption that people (volunteers) want and can be involved.
- People are active participants and know what works best in the context of the regions we want to serve.
- Higher levels of inclusion and participation in the decision making process will lead to higher levels of engagement and ownership of resources allocated.
- Involving more diverse voices in resource allocation decision making will build trust and collaboration between main players, thus leading to more sustainable outcomes.
Per our scoping document “our historical structures and processes are currently reinforcing the concentration of power and money in the movement. We are far from an equitable model for resource allocation, and just increasing access to money or grants will not be sufficient.”
The logic behind this recommendation clearly outlines the need to include the voices of the regions and communities we hope to serve in decision making regarding resource allocation. We believe that when this is done, will we be able to plan towards their plights or concerns and address the value of including those who have been left out as stipulated in the strategic direction.
We also acknowledge that participation of priority communities is not enough. Future structures must allow for priority communities to actually determine the direction of resource allocation.
We still need to explore aspects around ‘who is holding risks associated with resource allocation’. What’s the accountability of the decision maker with regards to resource allocation? If we are putting that on the ground level, we need to also think about the risks that the decision makers may be taking on.
- Resources will be optimized and contextualized and used for their intended purposes.
- Additional decision making structures will have to be designed.
- The allocation of staff concentrated locally might be needed to support local decision making, among other possible designs.
- Community members will feel some sense of involvement when it comes to resource allocation.
- (in case of grants, and potentially other resource allocation mechanisms,) The grantor and grantee will both agree on what works best for a project or an activity since both parties would have been involved in the process.
- This will affect all communities, grantees.
- This will affect the communities we are currently working with
- This will affect the content of our projects, especially by allowing more resources to cover existing content gaps.
Potential situations of false participation may arise, where ‘gatekeepers’ who have access to more time and resources are doing the decision making without engaging relevant members at the margins.
The process of participatory decision making may present a few negative manifestations: this may manifest through domination by a few vocal people, social pressure, groupthink, goal displacement, lack of accountability.
The possibility that people needed may not have the required skill sets, knowledge, time and resources to participate. Also what is considered participation in one culture, may be non-participation in another.
Lastly in communities or situations where there is bickering, some committee members may show some misgivings and give wrong information about a particular request which may inadvertently affect the decision of the grant manager.
Additional expertise should be attracted to design appropriate decision making structures to include the sufficient level of diversity and representation.
A paid role of community developers could be created, whose task would be to reach out to relevant communities at the margins and work with them to create locally informed models for participation and building their capacity for this.
Appropriate mechanisms of participatory decision making (facilitation, feeding the context, representation, gradients of agreement, consensus seeking, levels of participation, etc.) will be implemented to include minority and novel voices.
Investment in the participants of the RA process is required, to provide additional needed skills, resources, context and knowledge.
In some situations, community members from similar communities who have no interest or stake in a particular request could also be involved for an objective input.
This recommendation will increase levels of participation of community members, potentially more conversation and decision making structures/spaces will have to be created and managed. More staff and expertise might be needed to be attracted for this, which will involve costs. In order to achieve this, there must be a conscious effort to invest in this process.
It is connected to recommendations dealing with structural redistribution and developing long-term relationships, because the newly created bodies will have to implement a participatory decision making model for RA. This recommendation is also closely connected to “Avoiding the pitfalls of privileges / Designing for diversity”.
Yes, it’s our key recommendation addressing the scoping question Q2, Who makes decisions about resource allocation within the movement? How should those decisions be made (in terms of structures, criteria, priorities, accountability)?
It also provides a clear focus on inclusion of “communities that have been left out by structures of power and privilege” in this process, and in this way it addresses Q4, The Strategic Direction prioritizes “communities who have been left out …” Who are they? Who should we reach out to and on what principle?
- Roles and responsibilities