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    In this essay, the author is looking for pioneering local administrators in the Netherlands who dared to push existing boundaries. However, the story starts in Great Britain where progressive liberals under the label ‘municipal socialism’ proceeded to provide public utilities through municipal governments rather than private enterprises. Their example was adopted by the so-called ‘radicals’ in Amsterdam led by Wim Treub. ‘Aldermen socialism’ with Floor Wibaut in Amsterdam as its most important representative, took it a step further. Their aim for a welfare municipality anticipated the later welfare state. After the Second World War we also saw some strong local administrators who in their own way strived for changes in their municipalities. After 1970 the phenomenon of ‘urban renewal’ led to a new flourishing of ‘aldermen socialism’ in the Netherlands with Jan Schaefer (in Amsterdam) as its most appealing figurehead. Since 2000, we have been in a new era of dualism, citizen participation and devolution that has produced new 'boundary pushers', which generated interest abroad (see the book on mayors by Benjamin Barber). At the end of the article, the author takes a look into the future. Current global problems also confront municipalities and they require local administrators with a good mix of political leadership, new civic leadership, inspiring commissioning and good stewardship. This essay is written for the ‘Across boundaries’ annual conference of the VNG (the Association of Netherlands Municipalities founded in 1912) held in Maastricht (in the far south of the Netherlands) in 2018.


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.
Artikel

Gezocht: integere en daadkrachtige verbinder (m/v)

Het onderscheidend vermogen van profielschetsen voor Nederlandse burgemeesters beoordeeld

Tijdschrift Bestuurs­wetenschappen, Aflevering 1 2018
Auteurs Niels Karsten, Hans Oostendorp en Frank van Kooten
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    There is a lot of criticism on the profile descriptions in which Dutch municipalities express the requirements which they put on a new mayor to be appointed. They would look too much like each other and contain few real choices. This article describes the requirements Dutch municipalities put on candidate mayors and analyses the discriminatory power of profile descriptions. A content analysis of 231 profile descriptions and talks with five focus groups show that municipal councils especially ask for integer networkers and linkers, who are above all effective, empathic and communicative. The differences between municipalities in this respect are small and the municipal size hardly makes any difference. Municipal councils do not fully utilize the opportunities in profile descriptions for local customization and barely translate the local conditions into specific requirements. The explanation for this is partly located in isomorphic processes, that lead to uniformity: municipal councils follow the guide of the national government for the appointment process and copy texts from each other. At the same time the office of the mayor in the Netherlands asks for a specific content, that is translated into the profile descriptions. It is therefore the question if the criticism on profile descriptions is fully justified. They do have discriminatory power, although municipal councils could make much sharper choices in what they expect from a mayor, appropriate to the challenges the municipality faces.


Niels Karsten
Dr. N. Karsten MA is universitair docent aan de Tilburgse School voor Politiek en Bestuur van de Universiteit van Tilburg.

Hans Oostendorp
Drs. J.H.W. Oostendorp is directeur van het adviesbureau Necker van Naem.

Frank van Kooten
F. van Kooten MSc is data-analist bij het adviesbureau Necker van Naem.

    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.
Discussie

Heeft de omwenteling in het lokaal bestuur wel plaatsgevonden?

Twijfels over de voorspelde ‘shift’ van government naar governance

Tijdschrift Bestuurs­wetenschappen, Aflevering 4 2015
Auteurs Dr. mr. Jan Schrijver
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    On April 8th 2015, Jan Schrijver got his PhD at Maastricht University (Arno Korsten was his doctoral thesis supervisor) on research into 40 years of Dutch administrative policy (1969 to 2009). This period largely coincided with his career as a senior civil servant (1976 to 2003). The expectation often predicted in Public Administration was that a shift from government to governance (from cockpit thinking to a network society) would occur in the dominant administrative theory. However, this shift was not detected in the Departments of Home Affairs and Agriculture during the research period. In the literature on Dutch local administration, qualitative (and often ambivalent) information is generally to be found. On the one hand, this literature emphasizes the inevitability of this shift and offers a lot of case descriptions. On the other hand, Dutch handbooks on local administration devote little attention to this development and contain many views that point to stubborn administrative methods employed by old-style governors. The author concludes that Dutch national administration converges to one firm, while local administration diverges into a leading group of municipalities and a group of followers.


Dr. mr. Jan Schrijver
Dr. mr. J.F. Schrijver is oud-ambtenaar bij het Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken. Na zijn pensioen schreef hij een proefschrift aan de Universiteit van Maastricht waarop hij 8 april 2015 promoveerde.
Artikel

Hoe word je wethouder? Een onderzoek naar de transparantie en het democratisch gehalte van de wethoudersvoordracht

Een onderzoek naar de transparantie en het democratisch gehalte van de wethoudersvoordracht

Tijdschrift Bestuurs­wetenschappen, Aflevering 2 2014
Auteurs Julien van Ostaaijen
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article addresses the question how aldermen are selected and nominated and how this process is related to a number of democratic values like popular influence and transparency. The central question is how one becomes an alderman in the Netherlands. To answer this central question a document analysis has been carried out and 137 interviews with aldermen have been held in 77 municipalities that were selected on geographical dispersion and number of inhabitants. The research shows that the process until the appointment of aldermen is little transparent and democratic for the outside world. In the large majority of the cases aldermen are asked an nominated from within a political party. The road to becoming an alderman is not closed, in principle everyone can become an alderman, but it is also not transparent and accessible for everyone. For this the selection and nomination is too much tied up to and decided in political party networks. However, gradually changes occur in this closed party bastion, because now parties more often are forced to look for suitable candidates outside the party.


Julien van Ostaaijen
Dr. J.J.C. van Ostaaijen is werkzaam als onderzoeker en docent aan de Tilburgse School voor Politiek en Bestuur (Tilburg University).
Artikel

In dienst van beleid of in dienst van de democratie?

Een studie naar de waarden achter overheidscommunicatie

Tijdschrift Bestuurs­wetenschappen, Aflevering 1 2014
Auteurs Harrie van Rooij en Noelle Aarts
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    More than twelve years after the appearance of the report of the Dutch Committee on the Future of Government Communication (‘Commissie Toekomst Overheidscommunicatie’) communication as the responsibility of the government is an important issue of debate and a discipline that is alive and kicking. We may even conclude that communication – in the terminology of this report – has conquered a place in the heart of policy. A lot is still unclear about the communicative function of government. On the normative question ‘why should the government communicate’ diverging answers are possible. However, the question is hardly discussed in practice and in science. For this reason the positioning of government communication as a separate discipline is also unclear. Reflection on the elementary values behind the discipline can reveal themes that have been invisible so far. The article investigates which values and motives are attached in theory and in practice to communication as a governmental function. For this reason a content analysis has been carried out of a number of volumes of five Dutch magazines (practical and scientific). The authors conclude that for professionals communication mainly is an instrument to support policy goals. The possibility to make a purposeful contribution with government communication to democratic values hardly is brought about, not so much in Communication Science as in Public Administration.


Harrie van Rooij
Drs. H.J.M. van Rooij is werkzaam bij het Ministerie van Financiën als beleidsadviseur op het gebied van strategische overheidscommunicatie.

Noelle Aarts
Prof. dr. M.N.C. Aarts is verbonden als bijzonder hoogleraar strategische communicatie aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam en als universitair hoofddocent aan de Universiteit Wageningen.
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