G1 Peripheral-marginal: Ensure that CSOs have advantages from the project

In this project type CSOs have a very minor role. They might be members of an advisory board, be engaged as a subcontractor, be the object of research or they might even not have a specified role. Their main impact may be the identification of gaps within existing knowledge and practice, the improvement of the outreach activities relating to the project findings, or the achievement of practical guidelines.

In the daily work of a peripheral-marginal project the general governance challenge is to keep the CSOs bound to the project: given that they are excluded from almost all decision-making processes it is easy for them to lose connection. This challenge can be best mastered by ensuring that the CSOs involved gain an identifiable - and overtly recognised - benefit from the project, for example specific knowledge related to their core activities, or opportunities for expanding their network of cooperation.

Example: CSO representative as advisory board member

We studied a research project on public participation in the governance of a selected technology where a CSO was a member of the advisory board. The advisors regularly attended consortium meetings and gave feedback and guidelines with regards to progress in the project. However the CSO member felt that their feedback was not taken seriously. They were frustrated by being asked to contribute to a task that did not have what they perceived to be a valuable outcome.

This problem mainly arose because the consortium consisted of researchers and representatives from the public administrations of different countries who in their daily work and general attitude towards society mostly opposed the CSO’s views. By staying part of the project the civil society representative expected to be seen by the European Commission as the legitimate voice of civil society in the thematic context of that project. This motivational aspect of the CSO’s involvement could have been emphasised and built upon by the consortium so that the CSO member’s frustration would have been lowered.