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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.

    ‘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.

    Despite the praise for Richard Florida’s new book The new urban crisis, it remarkably can be seen as an ‘urban confession’ or even as a ‘public penance’ for everything he wrote before in his glorious publication The rise of the creative class. That book offered the opportunity to look at the city in a different way and to formulate approaches for new urban politics. As a child, Florida and his family fled the city with its crime and other problems and moved to a suburb. As a young intellectual, Florida returned to the city, where he became interested in the role of the creative class in the process of re-urbanization. During his academic research, he discovered the ‘magic formula’ that cities could flourish by stimulating this creative class. However, his belief in this magic formula has eroded and now, about fifteen years after his publication, he admits he was mistaken. What seemed a solution appeared to be the cause of ‘the new urban crisis’. In his new book, the ‘urban optimist’ is replaced by the ‘urban pessimist’. New policies are needed that replace the concept of ‘the-winner-takes-all’ by ‘urbanism-for-all’ to stop the so-called ‘patchwork metropolis’ of segregated neighborhoods.


Prof. dr. Nico Nelissen
Prof. dr. N.J.M. Nelissen is emeritus hoogleraar aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, redactielid en oud-hoofdredacteur van Bestuurswetenschappen.

    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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