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    Reflection and debate initiates academically inspired discussions on issues that are on the current policy agenda.


Yvonne La Grouw MSc
Yvonne La Grouw MSc is PhD-candidate bestuurskunde en politicologie aan de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam en redactielid van Beleid en Maatschappij.
Essay

De vroege geschiedenis van de (lokale) bestuurswetenschappen

Joris in ’t Veld en de nieuwe vormen van decentralisatie

Tijdschrift Bestuurs­wetenschappen, Aflevering 3 2019
Auteurs Dr. Rik Reussing
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This essay is about the Dutch PhD-thesis New forms of decentralization by Joris in ’t Veld from 1929. He was not only a competent and efficient social-democratic administrator, but he was also an early administrative scientist. Like the other early (local) administrative scientists, he mainly worked from the legal discipline. During this period however, we also see an increasing input from other disciplines, such as urban planning, economic geography, business administration and statistics. The subject of his dissertation does not come out of the blue. Like many, In ’t Veld felt strongly attracted to the problems of urban and regional development, but the various problems were not yet ripe for a final solution. An important part of his book is therefore devoted to the various solutions that have been found abroad for similar problems. In his thesis, In ’t Veld discusses various forms of governance. First of all, he looks at the way in which the arrangement of cooperation between municipalities can be improved. Where this (voluntary and forced) cooperation falls short of its nature, the institutes of the port authority and of the regional plan come into the picture. In both cases it concerns decentralization through target corporations. A solution is also conceivable through further territorial decentralization: the insertion of a new regional corporation between the province and the municipality in the form of the region (the urban region or the rural region). The urban region needs a necessary supplement in the form of a system of tax equalization to adequately do justice to the interests of the whole and of the parts. An alternative to the urban region is the unity municipality with local decentralization. His integral vision on the organization of domestic government in 1929 is also instructive for the present time.


Dr. Rik Reussing
Dr. G.H. Reussing is onderwijscoördinator van de joint degree Public Governance across Borders aan de Universiteit Twente en redactiesecretaris van Bestuurswetenschappen.

    Debates about the quality of local democracy are not new. This was also the case 100 years ago. In 1918 the ground-breaking dissertation of Adriaan Buriks on democratic municipal government was published in the Netherlands. In his dissertation Buriks proposed a radical democratic reform of Dutch municipal government by adopting the new system of ‘commission government’ from the US. That is a system of city government in which (almost) all city authority functions are concentrated in a small commission. The commission is organized in such a way that each member of the commission is the head of a city government department, every member is chosen by the population of the whole city and the exercise of authority is controlled by the whole population. The essay describes the remarkable life of this social revolutionary and municipal law expert. It goes on to discusses the dissertation through an introduction on the central issue of democratic municipal government, a description of the government systems of the US before and after the American Revolution of 1787, a description of the new system of ‘commission government’ and his proposal to adopt the new system in the Netherlands. The essay is closed by the author’s reflection on how the dissertation was received and its impact.


Dr. Rik Reussing
Dr. G.H. Reussing is onderwijscoördinator van de joint degree Public Governance across Borders aan de Universiteit Twente en redactiesecretaris van Bestuurswetenschappen.

    From 1974 until 1994 John Wevers was alderman in Maastricht (an old city in the deep south of the Netherlands) in the area of urban development. Before (from 1967 until 1974) Wevers was already a political activist in this domain. In 2016 he published his autobiography, which is very interesting for several reasons. The autobiography not only gives insight in the policy and the organization in the area of urban renewal in that period, but also in the functioning of local politics in general. At his farewell as an alderman in 1994 Wevers was the last remnant of a generation of Dutch Labour politicians (the other three were Adri Duivesteijn in The Hague, Ypke Gietema in Groningen and Fons Asselbergs in Amersfoort) who made architecture a public matter during the eighties. During the seventies Wevers also belonged to the generation of Dutch Labour politicians (amongst Jan van der Ploeg in Rotterdam, Max van den Berg in Groningen and Jan Schaefer in Amsterdam) who propagated the human scale and living in the inner city for ordinary people. In this respect they could rightfully call themselves the heirs of the legendary Labour alderman Floor Wibaut (alderman in Amsterdam from 1914 until 1931).


Dr. Rik Reussing
Dr. G.H. Reussing is onderwijscoördinator van de joint degree Public Governance across Borders aan de Universiteit Twente en redactiesecretaris van Bestuurswetenschappen.

    Politicians and scientists in the Netherlands often claim that only municipalities with over 100,000 inhabitants (so called ‘100,000+ municipalities’) have enough administrative power to be able to carry out their tasks in the future well. This is also the case for the responsibilities that recently have handed over to the Dutch municipalities as part of the three decentralizations. Against the background of this debate, the authors of this essay argue that the experiences of the four European microstates – Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino –may offer an interesting frame of reference where it concerns the delivery of public services. These four countries have all the responsibilities and tasks of a sovereign state, but at the same time three of the four countries have a population of fewer than 40,000 inhabitants. Also, the fourth country is smaller than a 100,000+ municipality. Despite the small size of these states, their public services are of an exceptionally high level. Therefore this essay tries to answer two questions: How is this possible? What can we learn from the experiences of these microstates about the debate on scale and administrative power in the Netherlands?


Dr. ir. Pepijn van Houwelingen
Dr. ir. P. van Houwelingen is onderzoeker bij het Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau.

Dr. Wouter Veenendaal
Dr. W.P. Veenendaal is onderzoeker bij het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde.

    In his concluding remarks the chief editor (and also editor of this special issue) discusses shortly the desirability and feasibility of a global parliament of mayors as proposed by Benjamin Barber. On both points, according to him, the idea of a global parliament of mayors can be questioned. Concerning the desirability of the proposal there is no clarity about the underlying notion of democracy and about its contribution to the democratic goals it aims at. Concerning the feasibility of the proposal Bas Denters questions if Barbers high expectations of the blessings of advanced ICT tools, that will be used for a virtual debating platform, are that realistic. Crucial are also the financial and material resources which are needed for the organization and functioning of a global parliament of mayors.


Prof. dr. Bas Denters
Prof. dr. S.A.H. Denters is hoogleraar Bestuurskunde aan de Universiteit Twente, wetenschappelijk directeur van de Nederlandse Onderzoeksschool Bestuurskunde (NOB) en hoofdredacteur van Bestuurswetenschappen.
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