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Integrating Multiple Channels of Engagement: from Multichannel Marketing to Democratic Innovations

Increasingly cities around the world are introducing multichannel democratic innovations that integrate multiple engagement processes. This article offers a first overview of this emerging phenomenon by exploring three families of multi-channel innovations: participatory budgetings, citizens’ assemblies, and citizen relations management platforms. The authors introduce a series of definitions to identify some of the building blocks of these complex democratic innovations’. The paper uses this framework to explore the opportunities and challenges of integrating multiple channels of engagement, and to describe the most common integration mechanisms employed by these families of innovations: managed competition, regulation and isolation. This paper constitutes a first step in a new research agenda that goes beyond the variety of labels of democratic innovations and investigates how these institutions can be modeled as different combinations of a common set of building blocks.