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    From 1964 (until around 1990), political science became the dominant approach within (local) administrative sciences in the Netherlands. This position was taken over from the legal approach. In this period, the concepts of politics, policy and decision-making were central to research and theory. In the period up to 1990, we still see a predominantly administration-centric or government-centric perspective among these political scientists, although we already see incentives from different authors for a broader perspective (the politics, policy and decision-making concepts remain relevant however) that will continue in the period thereafter. This broader perspective (on institutions, management and governance) took shape in the period after 1990, in which Public Administration would increasingly profile itself as an independent (inter)discipline. This essay tells the story of the (local) administrative sciences in this period as envisaged by twelve high-profile professors. The story starts in 1990 in Leiden with the (gradual) transition from classical to institutional Public administration, as is revealed in the inaugural lecture by Theo Toonen. This is followed by eleven other administrative scientists, who are divided into four ‘generations’ of three professors for convenience. In conclusion, the author of this essay argues that there is mainly a need for what he calls a (self-)critical Public Administration.


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

    Adriaan Koelma fits in with the list of legal scholars who helped to shape the early history of the (local) administrative sciences in the Netherlands, which was dominated by a legal approach to local administration. In that respect, he was not only a follower of the first Dutch public administration scholar, Gerrit van Poelje, but also his successor. He held the chair in Public Administration in Rotterdam, which Van Poelje vacated in 1933, first as a lecturer and later as a professor (from 1946 onwards). Nowadays, Koelma is mainly remembered for the state commission named after him: he (in vain) advocated the introduction of districts (next to municipalities). He was chairman of this state commission that was installed by Minister Beel on 19 December 1946. He fulfilled his scientific activities in addition to a career in the Dutch civil service. Koelma was a typical ‘self-made man’ who worked his way up from junior employee at the municipal clerk’s office of Dordrecht to municipal clerk and, if only briefly, mayor of Alkmaar. His experiences in the Second World War had a great influence on his later life. Due to a war-related illness, he had to give up the chairmanship of the Koelma Commission in 1947 and in 1948 his professorship and role as mayor of Alkmaar. This war also gave him insight into the pernicious influence of Nazi ideology on governance theory and governance practice. He could not have suspected how hard the German occupier would put the Dutch administration and its servants to the test during his public lesson of 1934, because at that time the Nazi regime in Germany had not yet shown its true nature at the local level of government.


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.

    ‘The Netherlands is a country of commissions. Some are useful: they draw up an analysis that clarifies, declares success or denounces failure’, as the author wrote in his PhD-thesis ‘Looking with strange eyes’ in 2014. This essay also deals with commissions. In the three decentralization operations in the Netherlands, a so-called social affairs advisory council has made its appearance in the Dutch municipalities. Advisory committees or councils play an important role in our political system. For a long time discussions have been held about the position of these advisory bodies and their added value for policy and stakeholders. This fits in with municipalities that are in full development with concepts such as self-management, co-creation and vital communities. Advisory councils want to know if their work matters. There may be growing disappointment about the effects of their advice. That feeling of disappointment is understandable. In 1979 Carol Weiss was rather negative at the time about the degree of utilization of research. In 1983 Arno Korsten put this into perspective: ‘The view that there is underutilization on a large scale requires revision. An important reason is the fact that applying research results is often not immediately and easily visible, neither for researchers involved nor for policy makers.’ Research is something other than advice, but the insights are a source of inspiration for the use of advice. An advisory council wants to increase the effectiveness of its advice. For that reason, in this essay an approach is developed that provides insight into the factors that determine the way in which and the extent to which the advice is used in political decision-making. With this insight, an advisory council for the social domain can strengthen the influence of its advice, as is expected.


Dr. Jean Schutgens
Dr. J.M.L.R. Schutgens is bestuurskundige en bestuurlijk vrijwilliger van het provinciaal Huis voor de Zorg in Limburg. Hij was gemeentesecretaris van Landgraaf in de periode 1992-2008.

    Democracy means the voice of the people. Democratic renewal means that the voice of the people is not static. Look at ostracism among the Ancient Greeks: could one imagine that it would not exist forever? Still the voice of the people, men and women, would sound different and clearer than it would if it were based on ostracism. Over the centuries change always appears to be the constant, also in democracy, for example in the democratic renewal we have been calling ‘citizen participation’. Bottom-up citizen participation originated in the 1980s, mostly in urban renewal, and was legitimized top-down in 1993 in the Dutch parliament through the Willems motion. During the past decade increasingly more instruments for citizen participation have been developed from the bottom up. This development aims for self-management, with instruments like neighbourhood rights and the right to challenge. It goes down in history under the name of ‘localism’. In this essay the author is looking for localism on the special Scottish island Gigha, which is part of the Argyll and Bute Council.


Thea Messemaker
T.E.M. Messemaker deed een kopstudie Bedrijfskunde en Innovatiemanagement aan de Universiteit Twente en is innovatiedeskundige bewonersparticipatie.

    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.

    With the term ‘system responsibility’ the authors (both working for the Dutch Scientific Council for Governmental Policy) mean the responsibility for the functioning of complex ‘administrative systems’. In these complex administrative systems supervision can have different roles: to assess the functioning one-sided from the perspective of the government, but also to put on reflective glasses (‘from afar glasses’) that aim at the bigger picture of divergent rationalities of the actors involved. In the second case, there is ‘system responsible supervision’. This essay explores the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of the desirability of system responsible supervision in a society with complex, compound administrative systems. Such supervision can contribute to a somewhat better understanding of these systems and a somewhat better ability to adjust these complex systems. These supervisors can be seen as a necessary complement of the withdrawal of the government and the rise of ‘horizontal administration’, in which the hierarchical decision-power of the central government has gradually shifted to other actors. As unelected and as relatively independent actors they occupy a new, hybrid place in the ‘trias politica’, because on the one hand they have taken over functions of elected politicians and administrators and on the other hand they function in many respects as a quasi-judicial power.


Dr. Peter de Goede
Dr. P.J.M. de Goede is senior wetenschappelijk medewerker van de Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid. Hij is voormalig redactiesecretaris en hoofdredacteur van Bestuurswetenschappen.

Prof. dr. André Knottnerus
Prof. dr. J.A. Knottnerus is voorzitter van de Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid.
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