Project and Network Participation


Designing collaboration in projects and networks using participatory approaches

Project and Network Participation encompasses the participatory design of inter-organizational, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary projects and networks. Such participation is essential in enabling actors to pursue common interests and goals.

While projects take place over a limited period, networks are organized for the mid- to long term. Both structures are connected, however, in that networks often realize their sub-goals in project form. For successful participatory project/network work, actors must agree on guidelines of cooperation. These guidelines lead participants through necessary project steps, from the launch through planning and execution, and support the necessary steps of each phase. This integrative approach increases motivation, engagement, and assumption of responsibility of all participants.

Project and Network Participation at a Glance:

  • Participation as a central factor of success for projects and networks
  • Integration of all actors in the process
  • Encouragement of communication, transparency, and motivation
  • Collective orientation by way of cooperation guidelines
  • Support of participatory process design


Böhm, B. (2006): Vertrauensvolle Verständigung – Basis interdisziplinärer Projektarbeit. Stuttgart: Steiner.

Von Blanckenburg, C.; Böhm, B.; Dienel, H.-L.; Legewie, H. (2005): Leitfaden für interdisziplinäre Forschergruppen: Projekte initiieren – Zusammenarbeit gestalten. Stuttgart: Steiner.

Dienel, H.-L.; Schön, S.; Schophaus, M. (Hrsg.) (2004): Transdisziplinäres Kooperationsmanagement. München: Oekom.


  • Diverse coaching programs for regional round table discussions for the Gesundheit und Netzwerke Prävention für Landesvereinigung für Gesundheitsförderung Thüringen (AGETHUR), since 2010
  • Coaching, moderation, and workshops for communal networks in the Hamburgischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Gesundheitsförderung e.V. (HAG), 2011, 2014, 2015
  • Conception and moderation of teambuilding conferences for the research group Wissenschaftspolitik, Team Bibliothek, wissenschaftliche Information, and Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB), 2015
  • Support for the participatory process design in the project Partizipative Kommune for the Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bau und Stadtentwicklung, 2006-2007
  • Development of the network Technologieorientierte Dienstleistungen und Produkte im Auftrag des Wirtschaftsraum Schraden e.V., 2003-2006


The nexus Institute developed guidelines for participatory projects and networks at the beginning of the 2000s (Blanckenburg et al. 2005) after recognizing the central role projects and networks play in organizations and institutions. In such organizations, actors constantly engage with various networks and projects in order to solve complex problems in an ever-changing working environment. In addition to their daily tasks in an organization, employees are often asked to engage with various other inter-organizational projects and networks. There is therefore a great need for professional project and network coordination and a collective focus on collaboration.

Project and network groups consist of people who come together from all different disciplines, departments, organizations, institutions, and societal sectors. In order to include all of these different actors, participatory processes of discussion, coordination and decision making, information, communication, and transparency are extremely important.

Project and Network Participation is oriented around cooperation guidelines which assist in the preparation, planning, execution, and conclusion of a collaboration. In addition to initial idea development, the preparation phase includes contacting further actors and determining common goals. In the planning phase, participants engage in an exchange about their individual foci, positions, and interests in the project. A common work structure is developed and roles are distributed. Additionally, a comprehensive analysis is conducted in order to define the problem; and intermediate goals, milestones, and desired results are determined. The execution phase demands constant exchange between the actors and flexible planning, as well as structures and competencies for crisis management.

In addition to organization and process design, important principles in communications psychology are at the heart of Project and Network Participation, as interpersonal relationships, cooperation, and mutual motivation can have a major influence on productivity. The sharing of information, fairness, constructive conflict management, joint learning, and the sharing of responsibility form the basis of effective and efficient networks and projects.

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