This article analyzes participatory policies created by the State from the perspective of "authority", the capacity of these new decision-making forums to solve problems, enforce decisions and have an impact on the external world. Based on examples from two types of participatory policy river basin committees and participatory budgets it argues that the construction of authority is more likely to occur when both State and society actors perceive the new decision-making process as beneficial to their interests. On the one hand, the article shows how, in successful cases, actors design participatory policy around shared interests. On the other hand, it examines how cognitive factors can both facilitate and make more difficult the identification of such interests. The article argues that technical ideas, such as participatory models, can help actors to perceive the creation of participatory forums as in their interest. However, when models are followed blindly, they can become "cognitive locks", making it more difficult for actors to adapt the ideas to local conditions.
participatory policy; river basin committees; participatory budgeting; collective action; ideas