This article develops a theoretical and empirical understanding of the governance processes between voluntary organizations and public health institutions in Italy. In theory, governance process allows to mitigate coordination failures between the public and voluntary agencies and to improve service delivery through community engagement. The article shown that governance between public and voluntary sector can produce very different levels of democratization and improvement of health and social programs. In some conditions, it may be that valorizing the voluntary sector can effectively renew and improve health policies, while in others the exact reverse may happen. The article offers an analysis of the main factors that influenced this result.
Keywords: Voluntary organizations, third sector, governance, health, citizen participation, sociology of health.