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Pop-up public value - School voor Openbaar Bestuur

Table of contents

1. Emerging networks: public value bottom-up 5

2. Changing relationships: Top-down and bottom-up 9

3. Successive concepts of governance:

towards a mixed model 17

4. Mindful optimism: taking into account

pragmatic or principled criticism 28

5. Conclusion:

A layered view of a mixed governance practice 34

Endnotes 40

References 49

Pop-up public value 3


1

Emerging networks:

public value bottom-up

When the library closes down…

The City of Rotterdam in The Netherlands is closing down fourteen of its nineteen local

libraries. These local libraries are replaced by five much larger central libraries serving

people from the surrounding neighbourhoods. The plan will not only raise the quality

of the big, new central libraries but can also save a considerable amount of money.

Despite the good intentions and the need for cost-cutting measures at Rotterdam’s

libraries, there are a number of concerns with this proposal. The whole point of local

libraries is that users can drop in to read and borrow books, and meet other people

from their neighbourhood. The library was a public place, a node for the local network.

Having the library close by lowered the barrier to entering, a significant consideration

in neighbourhoods where reading a book to your kids is by no means self-evident.

Moreover, elderly people who wish to use the library are hardly likely to travel four

stops on the metro to get there. When the library closes down, the community loses

an important asset. The disappearance of their local library prompted a group

of residents to take action to do something about it. In a vacant shop – owned by

a housing association and situated on a main road through the neighbourhood –

they opened the Rotterdam-West Reading Room, with books donated by friends

and local residents, using their network to organise and furnish the reading room.

The Reading Room has been operating for a while now and continues to develop and

grow. There are meetings and afternoon reading sessions, but also literary presentations

and live music. And there are books – lots of them. Even though there is no

system of fines, people are willing to bring the books back. They seem to have a feeling

of ownership, even though the books and library don’t belong to them. What first

seemed to be a loss for the neighbourhood – the demise of the community library –

has turned into something really positive. It’s still rather fragile, but a start has been

made. It’s now up to local residents and the other people involved to take things further.

The “pop-up library” – as its founders refer to it – is an example of the self-organisation

of public value. It is a “bottom-up” organisation but that does not mean that the local

authorities are entirely absent. The authorities also have a role to play when there is

spontaneous organisation of public value – or perhaps especially then. At the Rotterdam-West

Reading Room, self-organisation and local enterprise dominate, and local

authorities have been involved when they had to be – not in the sense of funding or

a policy programme but with informal referrals and by giving the green light when

necessary. The pop-up library belongs to the neighbourhood and runs on the basis

of the network of those involved. The authorities are involved and are part of that

network – no more and no less than that.

Pop-up publieke waarde 5


Examples like the Reading Room in Rotterdam-West demonstrate what is

currently going on in a wide range of places and fields. In the public arena,

all kinds of initiatives can be found, originating from the bottom up – from

the network – with public value being created by parties other than the

public authorities, i.e. the municipality, central government, the province,

the region, or other bodies of public policy. 1 This is sometimes in response

to policy, but often at people’s own initiative, with their individual reasons

and intentions. The authorities sometimes receive a formal request, but

more often they gradually become aware of a situation that is already far

advanced. Public value is therefore increasingly created within a mixed

field in which the authorities, the public, entrepreneurs, market parties,

and civil-society organisations are at work in all kinds of non-comparable

relationships. 2 The public domain is not emptying out but is increasingly

being filled up, by a whole range of different and diverse parties; it is busier,

and more varied than before. The network that was initially seen as the

target or the locus of government policy has now itself become the driving

force behind public value. The network is no more the recipient of policy,

or the landscape within which policy operates, but is becoming a producer

of public value. The network produces public value instead of receiving it.

Public authorities are going along with these developments – but how, and

are they doing so quickly enough? The network has always been there and

the idea of public value being produced by others than the authorities is

not anything new. 3 This time, however, it seems to be different. If it is,

what does that mean for the public authorities and the repertoire that we

currently know and have grown accustomed to? What are the roles, modes,

and forms of government that fit the new emerging balance between government,

market and society?

Beyond the market and government

Discussion of the implementation of public tasks is a constant in political

and public debate. The panels of the public and the private debate have

been constantly shifting in recent decades. 4 During the rapid expansion of

the welfare state in the 1950s and 1960s, civil-society groupings (charities,

associations, cooperatives) and private performance (companies, patronage)

of public tasks were collectivised. This process took place later in the

Netherlands than in other European countries, but it ultimately did take

place, and on a large scale. 5

Twenty years later, in the 1980s and 1990s, a counter-movement developed

with a strong emphasis on liberalisation, amounting in many cases to the

6


privatisation of what had previously been collectivised. 6 Public agencies

were transformed into private businesses, often operating in new government-created

markets, for example in rail transport, healthcare, and telephone.

Government became the client for private parties and/or the market

manager, a position from which it steered the production of public

value without producing it itself. 7 In the famous words of Osborne and

Gaebler, 8 government would steer rather than row. Other parties would

produce public value, but all of them would be subject to government

responsibility, supervision, and accountable for the political primacy.

Discussions on the production of public value are often about the relationship

between the market and the state. 9 That discussion primarily concerns

the extent to which market forces operate and whether the limits have

been reached or indeed exceeded; the question of what government

should in fact do and what can be left to the market. Over the years, there

have been various developments in this area, for example, regarding the

role to be played by citizens and clients of public services. 10 Are they the

recipients and users of government services, or do they have a more active

role to play, for example in generating ideas? Interaction with stakeholders

has become an important issue in policy, but to a large extent from the

perspective of increasing the power of government to “deliver” 12 the

desired services.

In recent years, the idea of the strength of a vital society and self-reliance

has taken off. There is an increasing emphasis on the possibility of enabling

citizens, civil-society groupings, and businesses to engage in initiatives

themselves so as to produce public value. Even more important is

that this is not merely being debated, but is already being done on a large

scale without consent or formal requests on the part of the authorities.

The energetic, enterprising, or resilient society does not need to be “made”

by government – it is there already. 13 At first, bottom-up initiatives were

viewed as merely second-best. Some critics say, for example, that citizen

initiatives are a “last resort” in fields where the authorities’ performance

is substandard or absent. 14 Such critics do not value organisation from

the bottom up as an autonomous development but see it as a desperate

response by citizens when authorities refuse to act. By contrast, those

who are optimistic about self-organisation see a great flowering of locally

organised energy cooperatives that make it possible to achieve seemingly

impossible sustainability objectives after all. Yet, others see this flowering

as a direct result of budget costs by the authorities, and all that citizens

can do is take the necessary action themselves. In the latter view, citizens

Pop-up public value 7


do not take action because they want to but because they have no other

alternative. 15 The initiative is consequently a sign of a shortcoming on the

part of the authorities and not of intrinsic self-motivation on the part of

actors within society; people act in their own interest based on their own

decisions and their own values.

Depending on one’s opinion, there is a lot to be said for both views. What

cannot be denied, however, is that initiatives are underway, that people

have the necessary energy, and that the government has taken a step back.

They are possible, they are permitted, and they are happening – not everywhere

but in every town or city and in every possible field. Self-organisation

and do-it-yourself production of public value 16 – a library, energy generation,

a collective insurance policy, a beautiful town square, a clean street – are

now a reality more than ever. This also means a switch in the associated

discourse, from previewing an emerging possibility to discussing what to

actually do with what has already become a reality. The question is not

“Is that something for us?” but “How is it working here?”; not “Would it be

possible?” but “How will we make use of it?”.

For public authorities, the question is how to deal with self-organisation

and with pop-up public value. How should public authorities act within

a public domain that is literally filling up, without any clear direction,

without a representative point of contact, and without a clearly defined

plan or political agenda? In this essay, we will discuss the new steps in

thinking about governance of, and the relationship between, the public

authorities, the market, and society. Our approach will not be of normative

consideration – Is it desirable? – but of reflection on the nature and consequences

of pop-up public value as an empirical fact. How should these

new facts be positioned within the broader development of the relationship

between the public authorities, the market, and society, and in the

governance models that the government applies? We will examine the

successive phases that one can distinguish in the thinking regarding governance

and the associated practices. We make clear that there is a certain

sequence of views and practices regarding governance. The different views

do not replace one another, but come to be located adjacent to and above

one another, like sedimentary strata. 17 The existing practice of governance

can be seen as a mixed model in which views of governance from different

periods occur simultaneously as mixed forms. We attempt to understand

the developments in concepts of governance, but also to help public authorities

that are currently confronted with a variety of governance practices to take

the next steps.

8


2

Changing relationships:

Top-down and bottom-up

Phenomena such as the self-reliant society, empowerment, citizen power, citizen

involvement, do-it-yourself democracy, and social entrepreneurship can be interpreted

as a shift in the relationship between government, the market, and

society in general. 18 In all cases, public value is being produced in different

“production models”, made up of different combinations of market, public

authorities and the community. Public value can be many things; it just

as much involves the quality of public spaces as it is about being able to

borrow a book; the possibility of meeting people, helping the elderly with

their shopping, but also the generation of energy and the provision of

healthcare. Each of these can be produced in different modes, with market,

government, and society involved in different roles and balanced differently.

Figure 1 shows this variety in the production of public value and its

conceptual interpretation. The arrows in the figure depict the initiative in

the shift of the production mode. In some cases, production is “pushed”

down in the triangle, for instance when government agencies attempt to

cut their own costs and terminate their activities in a particular domain.

Other cases, however, may show that practices come from the bottom up,

with entrepreneurs or active citizens who enter the public sphere on their

own initiative – and often without approval from government.

government

citizen participation

privatisation and

liberalisation

active citizenship

social

entrepreneurship

society

market

Figure 1 Changing relationships between the authorities, the market,

and the community.

Pop-up public value 9


Top-down: Privatisation and citizen participation

Privatisation and liberalisation mean the transfer of tasks from public

authorities to the market. This can be on a large or small scale, but the

principle is that a commercial party begins carrying out what used to be a

task or service performed by the authorities. 19 There are many examples,

although the Netherlands has been reticent about privatisation compared

to a number of other countries. The crucial point about privatisation is

that an existing task is transferred to a commercial party – i.e. a business

– or that an existing public agency that carries out the task is converted

into a business. In many cases, the authorities continue to be involved, for

example as a shareholder or licence holder. Public governance and steering

remain, for example in the criteria for the contract and through the

programme of requirements. Commercial parties carry out the task but do

not determine it. This means that there is also constant discussion of the

limits of the contract. 20 Does the commercial party still do what it was

intended to do, and are quality and service up to standard? Is the public

interest still served properly? Politicians are under pressure to continue to

direct matters and to “take responsibility”, even if that responsibility may

no longer actually apply to their task or can only be exercised with extreme

caution. One significant feature of privatisation is that it takes place at the

initiative – and as a political choice – of the public authorities and that the

decision can be reversed if they want to. In other words, it is not businesses

or citizens but the authorities that are the driving force behind the shift.

Whether the task or service is privatised is for politicians to decide. Although

privatisation is not easy to reverse, practically speaking, the initiative and

control remain with the authorities. Although the main waves of privatisation

occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, there are still fields in which partial

or full-scale privatisation is ongoing or is being considered.

Citizen participation and self-reliance involve the transfer of tasks performed

by the authorities to the community, either to organised groups or

to individual citizens. 21 These then do what was previously done by the

public authorities, at the initiative of the authorities – which cease carrying

out the task, phase it out, or otherwise cease their involvement and

transfer it. In other words, one is dealing with tasks that are currently carried

out by the authorities themselves, and for which they bear responsi-

10


ility, which are switched over to the community. One example frequently

referred to is the work of looking after a city’s public green areas. At the

moment, the city maintains these areas itself, or contracts the work out to

a company, whereas the residents of a neighbourhood or street could perfectly

weed the park alongside which they live themselves. There have

been numerous attempts to introduce what is referred to in policy terms

as “externalisation of implementation”, in other words no longer undertaking

certain self-selected tasks but shifting them lower down the triangle

in Figure 1, transferring them to members of the public who then carry

them out either individually or in organised groups. 22 What is crucial in

such cases is the initiative and its embedding: it is the authorities that

determine what is shifted lower down the triangle, what will be taken over

by members of the public, and what conditions will apply. Often, it is not

the complete task that is concerned but an activity that is embedded and

that remains within a regime operated by the authorities. People take on

some of the care themselves but they do so within the authorities’ framework,

embedded in the regulations and activities of the authorities. 23

People do the work, but participate in the activity of the authority concerned.

There is an analogy here with privatisation in the 1990s: the authorities

(or national government) determine what happens, how, as part of what

arrangement, and according to what process design.

Privatisation and citizen participation essentially operate top-down. They

are processes in which the authorities direct, deploy, design, and – sticking

with the image of the triangle – push tasks downwards, for others to perform

them. The market gets to work, but in response to a request from

government. Businesses deploy activities, but under a licence issued by

the authority. More or less the same applies in the case of citizen participation

and self-reliance. The community plays a role, but it takes place

on the basis of a government programme. Citizen participation and selfreliance

do involve citizens being active, but constitute public policy rather

than social development. Citizen participation and self-reliance in the

sense of the upper part of the triangle are a top-down programme in

which citizens are brought in to achieve the authorities’ objectives and

programmes. In the latter case, citizens become the ultimate implementation

organisation of the authorities, ensuring production of the public

value desired and defined by the authorities.

Pop-up public value 11


Movement Initiative and control Example: Green areas

Privatisation

The authori-

The authorities initiate

A public park is planted up and

and liberali-

ties transfer

and control by means

maintained by a contracted hor-

sation

tasks to the

of licences and regula-

ticultural company in accordance

market.

tions.

with a sla. The contract is put out

Privatisation is literally

to tender again periodically, with

a task transferred by the

the authority reconsidering the

authorities.

conditions and requirements.

Citizen parti-

The autho-

The authorities deter-

The municipality sends a letter to

cipation and

rities “push”

mine the tasks that

people living near a park asking

self-reliance

tasks onto

will be transferred to

whether they are able to under-

citizens, in

the community and

take management of the park

consultation

estimate who can take

and invites them to a discussion

with them.

them on and at what

of the matter. The municipality

level. The authorities

determines whether the residents

remain responsible and

will or will not be free to replant

can take back tasks

the park and what other restricti-

if that is necessary or

ons there will be.

politically desirable.

Table 1: Privatisation and citizen participation.

From the bottom up: Active citizenship and social entrepreneurship

There are numerous initiatives that develop from the bottom up; not at

the request of a policymaker but because people themselves instigate

them. This concerns activities that we refer to as “active citizenship” or

“social entrepreneurship”. 24

Active citizenship and “empowerment” involve people taking the initiative

to address something in their neighbourhood. 25 This may be actual physical

work, for example laying out a shared neighbourhood garden or raking

leaves in a public park. It can also be a social activity, such as afternoon

readings in the street, doing the shopping for elderly people, or involving

parents by setting up a “parents’ meeting venue” at the local primary

school. The initiative comes from citizens, who enter the domain in which

it is currently the public authorities that are active (or also active). They do

this without being asked and on their own terms. In some cases, this is in

addition to the activities of the authority concerned but it often involves

pushing aside and competing with what that authority provides. Active

12


citizenship is by no means something new. Individuals perform countless

“tasks” and work of public value every day, generally without realising that

they are involved in “active citizenship”. They may do the shopping for a

neighbour with a disability, look after family members, or visit lonely elderly

people. In the context of traffic, people jointly construct a safe and

accessible public space by making room for one another and by sticking to

the rules. We can in fact find active citizenship wherever we look. What is

“new” about such initiatives is that they are shifting into a domain where

the authorities are already active. They involve a replacement for what the

authorities do or they are in competition with them. Active citizens are

elbowing their way, so to speak, into the domain that involves producing

public value, and are doing so on their own terms and for their own reasons.

26 Active citizenship is consequently also linked, by definition, to

individual interests. It operates in the public domain and has public value

there, but it links up with what individuals consider worthwhile and important.

The pop-up library in Rotterdam is an initiative that adds value to

the neighbourhood concerned: people can again borrow books in a neighbourhood

where the municipal library has disappeared. But the initiators

also have broader goals in mind: they consider it important to enhance

“their” neighbourhood and for new cohesion to be created, and they take

pleasure in actually creating a tangible facility. They do this not only for

“charitable” motives but also for their own benefit. Seen in this way, active

citizenship also involves – sometimes entirely – understandable self-interest

in addition to reasons involving other people and the community. Active

citizenship is never a “reflection” or a weighing up of all the interests and

values involved. In fact, it involves – by definition – considerations that are

specific to the individual and that are selective. This is important because

it is here that one finds a significant difference to the activities of the authorities

in the public domain. Those activities are hardly ever wanted by

everybody, but that is why choosing them takes place within transparent,

verifiable, and legitimated political processes. There is also generally an

extensive web of rules and appeal options that protect the interests of

minorities and individuals. In the case of active citizenship, there are no

such checks and balances, at least not formally, and is highly political but

without the institutional checks and balances.

Social entrepreneurship involves similar bottom-up initiatives but features

entrepreneurship and has the aim of making a profit (perhaps only a

modest one). 27 Social entrepreneurs construct their organisation on the

basis of a revenue model. In some cases, the enterprise is set up with the

Pop-up public value 13


intention of remaining on a small scale, while sometimes the ambitions

are more expansive. The entrepreneur wants the enterprise to be more

than the individual efforts of its founder. Social enterprises can grow into

full-scale businesses that – based on the entrepreneur’s social ambitions

and objectives – are in fact full-scale market operations that compete with

the existing range on offer. That range may be offered by the authorities

but also by other enterprises. The “Thomas Houses” [Thomashuizen] for

people with a learning disability, for example, are a social enterprise that

competes with “normal” care homes. The social objective of offering better

small-scale care within the financial limits of collective financing – people

do not pay extra from their own funds, it is collective regulations and insurance

that are involved – does not preclude the revenue model. Quite

the contrary: it is precisely the social element that appeals to clients and

has led to the Thomas Houses quickly filling up, with demand exceeding

supply. Other social enterprises “compete” with government-provided

facilities. The Dutch Food Banks [Voedselbanken] are a private supplement

to the normal system of social security, debt counselling, and supplementary

benefit. They do not replace those arrangements but they do reveal

that the minimum guaranteed by government is not sufficient for people

who depend on it. Indirectly, this constitutes criticism of the authorities:

according to policymakers, people do not need to go to the Food Bank. The

two systems exist side by side, but can also get in one another’s way.

Another development – one that we will not deal with in detail here – is

that individuals are increasingly capable of completing relatively complex,

commercial tasks alone or within self-organised groups. 28 That is not the

direct subject of the present essay, but it is an important development in

this context. The Bread Funds [Broodfondsen] are often given as an example

of citizens taking over a task from the authorities, but aside from being an

alternative to the official Dutch system of occupational disability insurance,

they are also a response to the high premiums that self-employed

persons are charged by private insurance companies. The self-employed

are not covered by the official collective schemes and they are also unable

to afford the policies offered by the large insurance companies. They have

therefore begun organising a small-scale system of selective solidarity in

the cooperation The Bread Funds. But there are also cooperatives in all

kinds of other fields, large and small, for example the supermarket in

Sterksel. Residents were concerned that the supermarket in that village

– whose population is shrinking – was set to close, meaning the loss of the

village’s last facility. They were worried that the absence of facilities would

14


lead to even greater population decline. Their answer was to set up a cooperative

involving residents and the owner of the supermarket, with the

supermarket being run collectively. Locals don’t just do their shopping

there but work there for a few hours a week. They do not request government

funding to support the supermarket; instead, they have taken action

and organised one themselves.

Movement Initiative and control Example: green areas

Active

Citizens

Citizens take action

In addition to the six-monthly service

citizen-

take on

at their own initiative,

provided by the municipality, local resi-

ship

activities in

in the manner they

dents voluntarily look after their local

the public

themselves choose,

park. They plant up the park themsel-

domain.

and for matters that

ves, or replace the existing plants and

they themselves

flowers. They create a flowerbed, in a

consider important.

location not designated by the municipality.

Social

Social en-

An entrepreneur takes

“Your Neighbourhood Gardener” [Tuin-

entrepre-

trepreneurs

an initiative to develop

man in de wijk] mobilises residents

neurship

set up

a proposition, based

living close to the parks and gardens

activities in

on a mix of personal,

in neighbourhoods in Rotterdam. The

the public

social, and commercial

entrepreneur takes the initial steps

domain.

motives. The autho-

and local residents often quickly follow.

rities do not play any

The entrepreneur receives money from

directing role.

funds and sponsors.

Table 2: Active citizenship and social entrepreneurship

Societisation of the production of public value

Production of public value takes place on a large scale within the lower

half of the triangle. Pressure to shift production “downwards” comes both

from above and from below. It is an intervention by public authorities but

it is also the sum total of a series of initiatives undertaken by citizens and

entrepreneurs themselves. The scale and extent vary but it takes place in

many fields and in many different ways. When added together, the various

movements lead to a trend that – after a period of initial collectivisation

followed by privatisation – can perhaps be referred to as “societisation”,

i.e. the production of public value in the lower half of the triangle, with the

authorities withdrawing or sharing public value production with others

(see Figure 2).

Pop-up public value 15


The essential feature of societisation is that the lower part of the triangle

becomes of greater significance in producing public value, and that it

comes from people’s own initiative and efforts. This is often in relationship

with the government, but not as the result or as a product of governmental

policy. What we will deal with in the rest of this essay are the consequences

of societisation for governance by the authorities and how the

authorities can productively relate to initiatives and developments such as

these. The fact that public value is increasingly generated from the bottom

up does not mean that the authorities do not need to be involved topdown

or that the role of the authorities is marginalised. What are in fact

needed are new strategies, new arrangements, different positioning, and

new forms of organisation. The trend towards societisation is more than

simply a search for new ways of implementing agreed policies. Inherent to

this shift is that the nature of the public value itself changes and thus also

becomes political. In that sense, societisation is anything but an innocent

phenomenon.

3

government

citizen participation

privatisation and

liberalisation

active citizenship

societalisation

social

entrepreneurship

society

market

Figure 2 Changing relationships between government, market, and society in

general.

16


3

Successive concepts of governance:

towards a mixed model

Developments such as the Reading Room in Rotterdam-West, and the

mode of organisation of public value behind it, can be viewed in the context

of the historical development of theories of public administration. 29

What does governance mean in a context in which more and more initiatives

of this kind present themselves? In this section, we will show what

the development has been in concepts of governance and what new forms

now occur in actual practice. Figure 3 illustrates this development.

Public performance

wog

Resilient government

systems

npm

Citizen participation

Government

Netwerk-governance

Society

pa

‘right to challenge’

‘stimulate’

self-organization

Social entrepreneurship

Active citizenship

Political choice

pa: Public Administration

npm: New Public Management

wog: Whole-of-Government and Coproduction

Figure 3 Dynamics in governance. 30

Pop-up public value 17


Two axes: Political choice and Public performance,

government and society

The vertical axis of Figure 3 represents the emphasis in the efforts. Where

is the emphasis within governance? Is it primarily on policy and formulation

of the right objectives and programmes or is it primarily on actually

producing and delivering the intended performance?

When the emphasis is on policy, it involves formulating ambitions and

objectives and on the deployment of policy. This is accompanied by political

questions regarding distribution, the content of policy, and attention to

certain groups. 31 That emphasis is mainly in contrast to the other part of

the diagram, namely the emphasis on the implementation, production,

and delivery of the agreed performance. 32 Here attention is paid less to

specifying the policy objectives to be achieved and more about actually

achieving them. In other words, the question is not so much one of “Who

gets what?” as it is whether we are getting what is necessary. This needs to

involve questions about efficiency, i.e. efficient production. Is there a loss

of production? Are we doing what we have promised? Is performance

quantifiable and can it be visualised? Are agencies performing efficiently

and is no capacity being lost during implementation? The idea of this part

of the diagram is not that no policy should be formulated any longer. The

point is the shift in the emphasis of strategic efforts and debates: from a

focus on policy formulation to primarily implementation; from an emphasis

on the importance of formulating objectives to the quantifiable delivery

of those objectives; from doing the right things to doing things right. Policy

remains the basis but it is no longer the essence.

One example is that of the municipality of Rotterdam. When the Liveable Rotterdam

[Leefbaar Rotterdam] party won the council elections in 2002 – part of the

political upheaval instigated by the late populist politician Pim Fortuyn – and took

over control of the city from an administration that had been dominated for decades

by the Dutch Labour Party [PvdA], the Municipal Executive and the civil

service suddenly had to switch from policy to delivery. This went so far that words

such as “policy” and “plan” were banned and all attention was focused on implementation.

It was no longer the city’s policymakers but its implementers who were

the heroes within the organisation. Scope for policy-making was shifted to implementation

and the power of those “cooking up” policy was roughly torn away from

them. The city still had policies, of course, and the Municipal Executive still set

priorities, but the emphasis – in both word and deed – came to be on implementation.

Implementation was upgraded from being merely the final phase of policy to

the very essence of the efforts.

18


The other axis in Figure 3 involves the relationship between public authorities

and the world outside (i.e. the market and the community, together

making up the lower part of the triangle in Figure 1). Here too, it is a matter

of a shift in emphasis. In the left-hand half of the diagram, the emphasis

is on government. Government (i.e. the authorities) draws up policy and is

responsible for its implementation. Citizens, businesses, and other parties

are the recipients, i.e. the target groups. They are the subjects of policy;

they receive it or are “influenced” by it but they do not co -produce it. 33

They are involved in determining policy via the political process but not in

actual specific implementation. The closer we shift towards the middle of

the figure, the greater the attention to interaction and co-production, 34 but

here too the emphasis remains on government. The characteristic feature

of co‐production is that users participate, i.e. they collaborate in the government’s

production process, not in production that they have organised

themselves. People fill in their tax return themselves (digitally), thus participating

in the production process of the Tax and Customs Administration

[Belastingdienst]. 35 They contribute to the efficient collection of taxes

but in doing so they are still on the left-hand side of the diagram. Their

contribution is restricted to doing what is requested of them and filling

in their details in good faith. In doing so, there is no scope for their own

initiative or for them to influence the tax brackets or categories.

This example of co-production of people’s tax return brings us to the righthand

side of the diagram. Here, other parties participate in production or

produce entirely independently. Further to the right-hand side there is

more room for interaction and an autonomous role for society. Efforts at

co-production attempt to link government activities more closely to the

work and ideas of citizens and entrepreneurs that in some phases may

even be in the lead, for example in public-private partnerships in which

the authorities work with businesses on specific projects, or within collaboration

structures or “special purpose vehicles”. 36 On the civic side, it

can also involve neighbourhood budgets, with local residents being able to

spend a certain portion of the authorities’ budget on objectives that they

themselves consider to be important. It may also involve citizen participation,

with stakeholders or other interested parties being able to contribute

during various phases of planning.

The horizontal axis concerns the involvement of citizens and other stakeholders

but also the way in which the authorities organise themselves. An

authority that thinks of itself as operating according to the right-hand side

of the model will permit itself to operate in a highly compartmentalised

manner and to allow its own parameters to dominate the interaction with

Pop-up public value 19


citizens or clients, who are seen as receivers of policy instead of co-producers

of or participants in policy. The more the perspective of governance

shifts towards the centre and the right-hand side of the diagram, the more

it becomes necessary for agencies to match their own organisational index

with the structure of the world outside. The authorities become less and

less able to impose their own views on those with whom they deal and

structure must increasingly shape itself in line with the contours of the

world outside; the organisation needs to organise itself around problems,

instead of moulding the problems to match the views and structures that

already exist inside. Citizens are not simply presented with a full-scale

solution, but rather, government agencies attempt to determine how

citizens view the issue and adapt their own organisation accordingly. One

example of this is working within programmes, with the various different

boards or departments collaborating in order to develop and implement a

single joint policy. It is not the organisation’s own form that is essential

but that of the societal issues concerned. As we move from left to right in

the diagram, we therefore see not only governance itself changing but also

the way it is organised; in other words, the form of the issues and society

in general become the determining factors rather than the form and structure

of the government organisation concerned. 37

Successive modes of governance in theory and practice

Over time, there is a certain sequence in the development of modes of

governance. The first type of governance to develop is the classic public

administration 38 approach, which focuses primarily on policy development,

with implementation being taken as matter of course. This is gradually

followed by a shift towards New Public Management (npm), 39 with an increasing

emphasis on the effective and efficient “delivery” of political priorities,

encouraged by the growing amount of literature referring to shortcomings

in implementation. Performance management, streamlining of

work processes, organisation/reorganisation of agencies, professionalisation

and protocolising of organisational processes all form part of this. 40

The emphasis increasingly comes to lie on how government converts political

objectives into delivering the agreed performance (for the citizen and for

society in general but not together with them). Needless to say, objectives

are still formulated and policy is still drawn up, but the emphasis on implementation

and performance delivery becomes crucial. “Policy is made in

implementation” is an expression often heard in this connection, as is discussion

of the “relocation of politics towards policy execution”. This is incomprehensible

from the classical perspective in which policy and politics

come before implementation and implementation is an extension of policy.

20


After a period in which there was a great emphasis on the exponents and

offshoots of npm, the focus is now coming to be on the “whole-of-government”

(wog) approach. 41 The idea here is that in all attempts to streamline

implementation and to guarantee delivery, the organisation of governance

has become lost in compartmentalisation: all concerned have confined

themselves to implementation of their own performance in the narrow

sense, to such an extent that the total societal effect of all those different

units is limited. The analysis is therefore that implementation and policy

have become fragmented and that each body’s own structure and organisation

has become dominant as regards the “form” of the issues facing

society. 42 The answer is sought in organising governance in a way that is

more cohesive and integrated, and that places the focus on the issues

themselves. Problems that transcend borders do not require compartmentalised

government bodies that focus on achieving their own targets but

government that operates across borders. 43 Government then literally attempts

to “re-form” itself and to shape itself according to the nature of the

issues. It still does this from its own perspective – more responsively and

somewhat adaptively, but not in collaboration with others or by making

use of the possibilities offered by others. 44

In its attempts to shift the focus onto the issues facing society, government

is forced to look “outside” and link up with the wishes and initiatives of

people. This is in line with theoretical ideas regarding public value, public

governance, networked governance, and stewardship theory. 45 The essence of

all these various concepts is that government “directs” matters less itself

but collaborates with others. 46 Public value is not “made” by government

but produced together with others. 47 Solutions then become increasingly

“asset-based”, with users not waiting until their problem is solved (“waiting

to be fixed”) but themselves having the necessary assets with which to

tackle it. 48 Attention to efficient internal organisation consequently shifts

first towards an organisation of the authority that links up with the world

outside and then more and more towards interaction and contact with

the outside world. Public value arises in the context of co-productions by

citizens, government, social entrepreneurs, businesses, and civil-society

organisations. 49 The world outside increasingly becomes the decisive factor

as regards the efforts and organisation of government. We have already

referred to this shift from “inside” towards “outside” (i.e. citizens and civilsociety

groups) as “societisation”. 50 For example, citizens are increasingly

encouraged – via such forums as amber Alert and Civil Network [Burgernet]

– to contribute actively in the safety of their living and working environment.

In doing so, they do not merely take note of government policy;

rather, they contribute to producing safety or to tracing a missing child.

Pop-up public value 21


A wide range of activities is developing that focus on improved collaboration

and interaction with the world outside. These vary from cooperation

between different departments to far-reaching collaboration at the front

line of policy implementation, 51 and to increasingly “admitting” activities

and efforts from the world outside into government’s own policy. Policy

increasingly becomes an interactive effort by government but with others

(rather than for others). The new focus on collaboration also means that

government is developing innovative concepts of governance – for example

network governance – in which the focus is less on the strict management of

policy-making and implementation and more on managing the interaction

between parties. 52

More attention is now being paid in the literature and in practice to another

development. Experiments are taking place with “Right to Challenge”,

“Empowerment”, and other models in which precedence is given to individuals

and to the community. Here, the world outside acts at its own initiative,

with its own agenda within the public domain. It does this in relation

to government but not at the request of government; the relationship

is not hierarchical or subordinate, but more of an equal one. The community

takes the lead in order to produce public value, and government is

presented with all sorts of initiatives and practices that evolve from it.

What is new here is the nature of the initiatives and the way citizens organise

themselves. In the past, taking action for the good of society was

viewed primarily as charity, with “doing good” as the most important motive

for action. In these practices, however, the goal of initiatives is much

more diverse. Social entrepreneurs want to do good, but they also want to

make a profit. 53 Active citizens strive for a better world, but they often

engage in projects that first and foremost add value to their own direct

environment. They also organise their initiatives less along the lines of

institutionalised and fixed structures – such as ngos – but build their own,

temporary and often single-activity organisations that are temporary and

fluid in nature.

In a similar way, people become involved with all kinds of single issues.

For example, residents may deal with the local green areas so as to improve

the look of their neighbourhood, even though this work is normally

carried out by the municipality or its parks and gardens department, or

contracted out to a company.

22


One example of enterprising citizens organising themselves are the Moroccan

“neighbourhood fathers” [buurtvaders] who keep an eye on what local youths

(mainly of Moroccan origin) are up to. The first such project was set up in Amsterdam’s

Overtoomse Veld neighbourhood as a response to an incident in 1998 involving

Moroccan youths and the police. Local residents of Moroccan origin were

deeply concerned about the negative media reporting of the incident, which involved

references to “no-go areas” and to parents who were not raising their children

properly. 54 A number of fathers decided to take action and began patrolling the

streets in the evenings so as to keep an eye on the behaviour of local youths. The

project was a success and received national exposure. Since then, similar projects

have been set up in other Dutch cities; although inspired by the Amsterdam

example, each of these has been adapted to the particular local context.

Initiatives such as the example above are not started by the authorities,

are not intended to achieve the authorities’ objectives, and in some cases

are not even wanted at all by the authorities. The idea for the Moroccan

neighbourhood fathers came from the community itself. It does not matter

what the authorities think of the initiative; rather, it is a matter of the

relationship between, in this case, the local authority and the communitygenerated

initiative. At the same time, however, the public authorities need

to find a way to relate to it and interact with it to balance the interests of

public governance with the principles of self-organisation and pop-up

public value.

The authorities, firstly, must relate to the preferences of the party taking

the initiative. A self-organised project to help children with their homework

in an empty municipal building is in itself an excellent initiative –

it comes from the bottom up and it helps children to perform better at

school. But what about if it takes place in segregated groups, with boys

and girls kept apart for religious reasons? What does the municipality

then think? And what does it do – or what can it do – about it? The fact

that an initiative is self-organised does not by definition make it a good

initiative. The first dilemma for the authorities as regards the self-organising

community is what to do about their own political preferences: can

they still be imposed on initiatives? Or should authorities accept that

initiatives do what they want and see if there is demand for it? And is

that always possible for the authorities?

Pop-up public value 23


Secondly, there is the question of how authorities relate to the absence of

initiatives from the public. In one neighbourhood, a promising practice

may be developed, for example, local residents starting up their own library

to replace the one that the city is closing down. In a different neighbourhood,

however, all that the residents do is send angry letters to the

city council. In some cities, people give one another free language lessons

while in others nothing is done. The relevant vice-mayor [wethouder] sees

that something is being developed in one neighbourhood and would like

to see the initiative spread. But can that be done? The essence is that the

initiative develops spontaneously from the bottom up. Can authorities

help self-organising? And does it have to be the same everywhere or can

there be differences?

In the case of the “neighbourhood fathers”, for example, a lot of municipalities

say that they want to have such a project or that they already have

one. What begins as a bottom-up initiative shifts towards a more topdown

approach. The public initiative and the municipality consequently

remain closely associated with one another and in a delicate relationship.

A statement by the former mayor of Amsterdam on the evening after the

filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered by an Islamic extremist is highly

significant: “The police are on full alert and the neighbourhood fathers

have been sent onto the street.” He spoke of the neighbourhood fathers

as if they were a municipal service, i.e. part of the police force. There was

of course close coordination between the police, the municipality, and

the neighbourhood fathers – there is nothing wrong with that – but the

essence of what those neighbourhood fathers are (or were) is that they

decide for themselves what they will do. From the governance perspective

of bottom-up initiatives, it would have been better for the mayor to say

“The police have been deployed and the neighbourhood fathers have also

decided to patrol the streets.”

A slightly different attitude was expressed by one of Amsterdam’s vicemayors

regarding a project to tackle nuisance caused by school pupils in

the surrounding neighbourhoods. 55 The project involved sending a specially

delegated policeman to the school concerned but his work consisted

to a large extent of mobilising local residents. As the vice-major explained

on a popular tv programme, “the neighbourhood is doing it for itself”,

i.e. the policeman acts as a platform for an initiative by local residents and

for interaction between local residents and the school. The policeman

24


does not constitute the solution but sees to it that the local residents and

the school produce the solution jointly. The municipality plays a role but

ultimately it is the community that does the necessary work. The point

of this example is to illustrate that it is not only a matter of what actually

goes on “in the field” but also of the way politicians talk about it. The ensuing

tv discussion showed, incidentally, the extent to which the interviewers

were themselves used to bottom-up initiatives: initially, they

thought it was too lenient an approach for the policeman – “So it’s just

one policeman?” – to no longer be involved with the school after one year.

Viewed from a top-down perspective, that would seem to be too little and

too short; it doesn’t get rid of the problem and after the external solution

is withdrawn the problem will recur. It is a problem that is “waiting to be

fixed” and that is only possible if the solution is on a large enough scale

and remains in place long enough. Viewed from the perspective of a

networked initiative, however, the dynamics of the project are entirely

different: the intervention is bigger than just that one policeman because

he connects up the capacity that is available within the network in the

neighbourhood around the school. That capacity remains long after the

policeman has left. It is not the policeman who solves the problem; the

neighbourhood is assisted in solving its problem for itself. The solution

does not come from outside but is generated from within. Governance

involving bottom-up initiatives increasingly has that kind of dynamics:

efforts by the authorities aimed at promoting efforts by others. Government

resources mobilise resources within society as a whole. Efforts by private

individuals are coupled with supplementary efforts by the authorities.

New tasks present themselves for civil servants and politicians to address

bottom-up initiatives. How should the municipality deal with citizens who

look after the city’s green areas themselves? How does supervision by the

police relate to super vision by Moroccan neighbourhood fathers? The authorities

do not – in the case of the green areas – form any part or – in the

case of the neighbourhood fathers – hardly any part of these initiatives,

which makes guiding them a difficult challenge. But it is also problematic

if the authorities do not provide governance at all: public values are involved

that affect more people than just those citizens who are actively involved.

How should those interests be weighed up? Where does scrutiny take place?

What role should the authorities play? The question for government is not

only how to deal with bottom-up organising and pop-up public value, but

sometimes also how to limit and discipline it.

Pop-up public value 25


Table 3: Successive paradigms

Public Administration (pa)

The authorities direct and produce, with the emphasis on

procedural diligence as regards decision-making. There is less

explicit emphasis on delivery and implementation. Processes

focus on diligence, democratic processes, political responsibility,

and defining the “good” objectives. What is crucial here is that

relatively little attention is paid to implementation, which is more

or less taken to be a matter of course.

New Public Management (npm)

With npm, greater attention is paid to the efficiency of production

by the authorities, to the quantifiability of performance, and to

the proportionality of input and output. This is partly in response

to studies that show how implementation practices ultimately

determine whether and how policy can be put into practice. It is

also partly because of pressure from attempts to have the authorities

produce more efficiently and to implement performance

management.

26


Whole of Government (wog)

These trends are based more on governance with rather than

governance of. This means that the authorities need others in

order to achieve their own goals and so organise matters accordingly.

The driving force behind this trend is the finding that in

order to successfully carry out complex tasks, the authorities are

increasingly dependent on collaboration with citizens, civil‐society

organisations, and/or businesses. The key to “solving” problems is

not in the hands of the authorities but of all kinds of external

parties. In order to achieve their own goals, the authorities must

collaborate with others.

Plural governance

The essence of this “quadrant” is that the authorities do not produce

public value but that the initiative lies with others. Authorities

do not set up interventions themselves but respond and relate to

what others do. Others set up initiatives, which then do in fact influence

the authorities. The authorities cannot direct them but they

also cannot ignore them; the authorities do not control them but

they need to relate to them. How can they do this in a way that is

not only in line with the nature and responsibility of the authorities

but also corresponds to the essence of the publicly generated initiatives?

The essence of this field is that there is no one type of governance

but that it is a variety and plurality.

Pop-up public value 27


4

Mindful optimism:

taking into account pragmatic

or principled criticism

Pop-up public value is here to stay. There is not only the empirical finding

that in various places it is happening; many even refer to it as desirable, necessary,

and good. 56 Such protagonistic and positive views on societisation

are often accompanied by calls for more, more intensive, or more comprehensive

initiatives on the part of citizens. In recent years, there has been a

great deal of upward pressure and optimism towards active citizenship

and social entrepreneurship has developed. Some go even further and

express the hope that further involvement by the community will directly

replace current government activity. In the debate about the production of

public value, societisation has almost degenerated into an ideological position

rather than a more pragmatic development; i.e. something that you

are either for or against, that you want more or less of.

Contrary to what supporters assert, however, there is also a lot of criticism

and warnings about the downsides, limitations, and risks of societisation.

Based on analysis of the relevant literature, we identify a number of levels

and emphases within the criticism of societisation. The criticism is variously

technical/pragmatic and normative/ideological in nature. Pragmatic criticism

mainly concerns feasibility and possibility: “Will it work?” Normative-ideological

criticism concerns whether it is appropriate and permissible. This

does not so much mean whether it is legally permissible – that is in fact a

technical question – but primarily whether it is permissible and appropriate

from the perspective of relationships and separation within society.

Both forms can be the subject of political argumentation against societisation,

and it is also definitely not the case that technical objections are less

significant or serious than normative objections. Quite the contrary: the

pragmatic problems can have a much greater impact on people’s lives and

– specifically in the case of societisation – the practical objections can have

immediate major consequences for certain groups of citizens.

28


One of the first and perhaps most obvious doubts concerns society’s ability

to produce adequate and appropriate public value in the long term. “Empowerment”

is an interesting model but only for those who know that they

can fall back on a sufficiently strong network and have the necessary competencies

to mobilise those forces. 57 One limitation is that the group that

is most dependent on intervention by the authorities is often the group

that has the least power. Societisation is good for those who are strong but

it weakens the position of those who need help. People are enthusiastic

about it at the moment, but the question is whether they will still be prepared

to make the necessary effort in a few years time. And will it then be

possible to replace them? In other words, are the initiatives sufficiently

robust for continued production of public value? The fact that things are

going well now does not mean that they will continue to develop further.

Is it advisable to construct the system partly on the basis of initiatives that

may not be sustainable?

A second objection that is often raised concerns the variety that arises in

this way – although it should immediately be noted that others consider

the variety and the potential for differences specifically as a major quality.

58 Societisation implies difference 59 because different networks generate

different kinds of “production”. Building on societisation inherently

means that the great variety within society will be reflected in the facilities

– without the authorities correcting, arranging, or imposing uniformity.

Different people quite simply impose different priorities, have different

ideas, produce different kinds of quality, and have different quality standards.

Things may run well – almost automatically – in one neighbourhood

while a few blocks down the road nothing at all is taking place. Protagonists

see this as the ultimate freedom, while critics speak of unequal opportunities

and arbitrariness. In their view, societisation is nice when it

supplements a certain government-guaranteed minimum, but it can go no

further than that. Discussion may come to focus on just what and how

much that minimum actually is.

The criticism that sees societisation as the instrumentalisation of the citizen

is more ideological. 60 Critics argue that with societisation, the citizen is

not free but an ultimate policy instrument. The citizen becomes the implementing

body for the authorities. He is given scope but only within the

policy frameworks. He can do what he wishes but only if the authorities

permit it. This is autonomy subject to licence, with strict conditions for

Pop-up public value 29


developing initiative. In actual practice there are all kinds of regimes and

standards with which initiatives must comply. Citizens do things themselves

but these are things that the authorities used to do. They keep order

themselves, keep public space clean and tidy, and look after one another

because they seemingly wish to do so, but they are meanwhile implementing

the political agenda of administrators. Without intending it, they consequently

become an instrument in “the system”.

In line with this is the similarly normative and ideological criticism that

production by citizens leads primarily to the reproduction of bourgeois

values. This puts the above-mentioned emphasis on difference into some

kind of perspective. The expectation is that people will to a large extent

ultimately want the same and will strive for bourgeois values. There is

therefore little toleration for deviation. Whereas criticism of government

often leads to uniformity, political procedures also ensure protection of

differing views and the interests of minorities. Critics wonder how these

can be guaranteed in a societised system. 61

Similarly normative and ideological is the criticism that societisation

appears to be democratic but is in fact ultimately anti-democratic. 62 Selfgovernance

is not the same thing as democracy. It is not a matter of finding

majorities and dealing properly with the weak interests of minorities,

but a movement centred around activities and initiatives. There are no

mechanisms for resolving tensions regarding conflicting interests, for

example. Local residents setting up a children’s playground sounds like

an excellent idea, except for those who do not like playgrounds. And it

also depends on where the playground is to be located; not everybody

wants one right on their doorstep. If democratic procedures and rules are

absent, then one is quickly left with the “dominance of the strongest”,

which will also focus strongly on reproducing the values and interests of

the middle ground. Citizenship produces a bourgeois agenda, but the

range of possible standards and directions is much more diverse. Politics

do not disappear from the public domain if the production of public value

shifts “downwards” but the traditional mechanisms for negotiation on

political conflicts are circumvented. What comes in its place is unclear.

What are the political moments and structures in a system of societisation,

and how legitimate and viable are they?

30


Another criticism that is both ideological and pragmatic is the objection

that societisation is nothing more than a “straightforward cutback”. It is

not about giving citizens greater scope but about the authorities doing

less. 63 That criticism is both ideological and pragmatic. For some people,

“smaller government” is an ideological choice arising from a particular

concept of the role of government; for others, it is just the consequence of

tight budgets. Yet, others see smaller government as an ideological choice

but derived from their belief that generations alive today should not leave

debts behind. Budgetary discipline and debt restructuring can be interpreted

both pragmatically and ideologically. The critical objection is the

most relevant here, however, because societisation is above all an opportunistic

programme in a ideological and socio-philosophical way. Societisation

then means cleaning up the government budget with the citizen footing

the bill, i.e. a rundown in services rather than greater scope. The citizen is

worse off but is presented with a liberating gift – “greater scope!” – in return.

In the meantime, he pays just as much in taxes and social security

contributions while receiving less in return and being expected to fill in

the gap with a smile – both for himself and for others too. What is “transferred”

to the citizen is not what is most appropriate from his point of

view but what the authorities want to get rid of for budgetary reasons.

As the sociology professor and ex-mp Evelien Tonkens puts it: “the ball is

always in the citizen’s court”. 64 For critics such as Tonkens, do-it-yourself

democracy sounds very much like a “figure it out for yourself” society.

A more technical point of criticism is the objection that societised production

is not cheaper at all. 65 In other words, the fact that citizens or social

entrepreneurs take action does not mean that things are cheaper for society

as a whole. A municipal service works according to a programme not

only because that makes things planable and predictable but also because

that approach saves money. The fact that a single loose paving stone is not

repaired may well be because the municipality has calculated that it will

be cheaper to deal with the whole street all at once on a single morning.

Programmed maintenance and replacement may be cheaper than constantly

sending out a maintenance crew whenever a local resident calls

about a particular streetlight, wastepaper bin, or paving stone. In the same

way, repairs carried out by citizens themselves may not necessarily be any

better or cheaper; inferior materials or amateurish repairs may only increase

Pop-up public value 31


the damage in the long term. We can of course decide to extract our own

teeth, but it is better and also cheaper in the long run if we pay a qualified

dentist to do it for us. If it costs more money and effort for local residents

to keep their neighbourhood clean and tidy, then that may well involve the

community in greater expense than if the authorities were to do it, with

the money saved being spent for other useful purposes. Spontaneous efforts

are fine, but they are not necessarily efficient from the economic perspective.

Something that seems to be cheap now may ultimately turn out

to be more expensive.

One highly pragmatic criticism involves the sum total of the efforts on

the part of citizens. Self-governance, self-organisation, family caregiving,

voluntary work, parental involvement, work participation, etc. – calls are

made in all kinds of ways on people’s time and efforts. Each such call is in

itself understandable, but taken altogether they lead to a great big tangle,

certainly if the calls culminate in certain groups. Double-income couples

with children, who look after a close family member, who are active within

society, who do volunteer work for an association, who have to work more,

and who also have to create “bottom-up” public value… is all this possible

and – more importantly – is it all possible concurrently? Doesn’t it lead to

a “waterbed effect”, with involvement in cleaning up the local park being

at the expense of the volunteer work at the sports club or caring for grandpa

and grandma? Viewed from the perspective of grandpa and grandma:

does the greater amount of time they themselves spend helping other old

people not mean that they have less time to babysit their grandchildren?

Quite apart from good intentions and financial limitations, there are also

limits to people’s time and energy for being active. 66 They can do a lot, but

they literally can’t do everything. Good will isn’t enough – things need to

be possible too.

One final critical note concerns not so much the general concept of

societisation but the actual incidents that it may lead to. 67 Are people

who organise childcare at home aware of the safety risks involved? Do

elderly people who decide to set up a residential community where they

are also cared for know how to put the necessary fire‐safety precautions in

place? Who will monitor the basic quality of the care that they receive

there? What about liability? Who is ultimately responsible? Isn’t it often

the case that if things go wrong it’s the authorities that are in fact held

responsible and liable?

32


The sometimes disapproving and cautionary criticism makes us aware of

the downside of societisation. It is being put into practice in many places

and is the focus of numerous studies but it is not unproblematic. Where

it shifts deeper into the public domain and plays a more important role in

people’s lives, it loses some of its innocence. What was for a long time

“nice” and “new” has now gone beyond the stage of just something pleasant

and cheerful. We no longer simply smile when we see people organising

facilities themselves; rather, we now ask ourselves – justifiably – what

it will lead to in the public domain if this happens on a larger scale. The

more serious it becomes, the more people become dependent on it and

the greater the risk of failure. This finding is not intended as a plea for

reticence but as a call for caution and attention.

Societisation is a promising and potentially successful option for producing

public value, but like other options it also has its downsides and tipping

points. It is not wrong but that does not necessarily mean that it is

good. It provides added value but that does not mean that all initiatives

are worth being given free rein. In our view, the most appropriate attitude

at this stage is one of critical optimism. We need to look for opportunities

for societisation, which to a large extent will only become apparent in

actual practice. But we also need to be aware of the downsides that will

also become apparent in the same actual practice. Enthusiasm for the

possibilities of societisation should not prevent us paying attention to the

risks and to problems that are to be solved, in the same way as critical

reflection and cautionary observations must not prevent the necessary

experiments that are taking place.

Pop-up public value 33


5

Conclusion:

A layered view of a mixed

governance practice

We started this essay at the pop-up library in Rotterdam-West. Citizens

have taken matters into their own hands and have provided a facility

there that used to be provided by the municipality. That looks like a case

of succession, with the municipal library being followed by the citizen-run

library, i.e. one way of producing public value being followed by another.

But it isn’t really sequential. The pop-up library is there too, in addition

to the municipal library, at which efforts are being made to collaborate

more with citizens and users, and as part of broader policy programmes

for social development and quality of life that are structured according to

the principles of performance management and proper public responsibility.

The pop-up library is an example of how the library can be structured

differently, but that does not mean that the signal has been given for a

reversal in thinking regarding governance. Something is added to the mix,

namely a different form that creates new challenges and that forces adaptation

and reconsideration of existing forms.

At the end of this essay we take into consideration sequentiality, succession,

variety, and blending. We have described how different perspectives regarding

governance have successively developed over time, often even explicitly

as a response, answer, or alternative to a different earlier perspective.

But this does not mean that working practices have arisen automatically

that consist of sequential types of governance, with one form following

the other. When the new arrives, the old does not necessarily disappear;

the picture is much more mixed than that. The public domain is filling up,

with actors and perspectives that all work differently towards the same

goal, namely producing public value. We have described that after Figures

2 and 3 in a third diagram, which shows how sequentiality and variety

of perspectives on governance that have developed or arisen over time

are organised in relation to one another. Figures A, B, C, and D show four

possible ways in which different forms of governance that have arisen

over time relate to one another. A number of variables play a role.

34


The first variable is the quantitative effect of introducing a new form of

governance: will the new form be introduced on a wide scale, and will it

accumulate mass? Or will the volume of the introduction be limited? Will

it become the standard or is it more of a niche? Will it be applied across

the board, or only in certain special cases? Is it something for the core or

is it just peripheral? Such questions concern the extent of a certain form

of governance over time, which is not the same as the impact of a certain

form on the picture. Network forms and do-it-yourself forms of public

value are still only on a small scale but they have a powerful effect on public

debate. It is questionable whether npm has ever really been on a large

scale in the Netherlands, but it is in fact seen as a label for a certain period

in the organisation of public production.

The second variable is the cumulative effect of a new form: will that new

form be alongside or on top of what already exists, or will its introduction

be accompanied by a reduction in the pre-existing form? Will the different

forms of governance mount up or will one replace the other? In the 1980s,

for example, there was an increasing focus on ideas about npm and performance

management, often as explicit criticism of the existing practice,

with the latter being considered inadequate from the point of view of efficiency

and effectiveness. Nevertheless, the principles of npm did not replace

the tradition of public administration but added new elements to it.

Classical ideas regarding responsibility, democratic legitimation, and good

governance have remained, while elements with a greater focus on quantifiable

performance and attention to implementation of agreed performance

have been added. The new came on top of what already existed.

In a different variant of this variable, a new form means that the previous

forms are gradually run down. Introducing more market forces by rolling

out a large-scale liberalisation programme inherently restricts the role of

the state in economic production, in just the same way as leaving tasks to

the community means that governance aimed at achieving previously

determined quantifiable performance is reduced. It is not possible for both

to exist alongside one another; the rise of one means that the other will

eventually be run down.

This brings us to the third variable, the interactive effect. Will the existing

and new forms remain unchanged or will the interaction associated with

the introduction ensure changes and mixing? Will the different forms influence

one another or will they exist alongside one another, perhaps in

collision? Will the different forms blend into one another, in combinations

Pop-up public value 35


comprising elements of both? The working practice of performance management

and npm in Netherlands has migrated into a form that is far removed

from the exact principles of the npm school of thought. The practice

and the concept influence one another and the existing practice enhances

the newly introduced ideas. Viewed less positively, this can be seen as the

stubbornness of existing practices and the limited ability of established

patterns to change.

Figures A, B, C, and D below show four variants of sequentiality and variety.

A

t

t

Figure A is based on a simple model of succession in which one idea replaces

another. Concepts do not supplement one another but replace one

another; one is followed by the other. The introduction of a new perspective

neither increases nor reduces governance. The introduction of a new

perspective means the advent of a new phase and a new era.

B

t

t

Figure B is based – in the language of sedimentation and erosion – on the

alluvial deposition of new layers on top of the existing ones. New ideas

about governance are deposited on top of the existing practices. They are

initially on top and gradually expand while the previous forms gradually

disappear. The deposition of one layer contributes to the slow erosion or

– in the language of organisation – “phasing out” of previous concepts. This

36


esults in a body of governance that does expand over time but whose

composition also changes. If we were to cut cross-sections through this

body of governance at various different moments, we would see different

accumulations of layers in the various samples. If we take a cross-section

of current governance practices, we will see that there are still significant

traces of previous forms but with all kinds of traces of later concepts on

top of them. And over time, the relationships change, meaning that the

emphases over time can be reconstructed as in a geological investigation.

C

t

t

Figure C is also based on deposition but much more in a metaphorical sense.

New governance models do not alter the whole arrangement but – based

on the details – they shift the defining emphases. It is not the composition

of the ground that changes drastically; it is the top layer that changes its

colour and composition. The picture changes but the underlying practice

does not necessarily change. Existing practices take on a different significance

or are integrated into the new perspective. Things are sometimes

referred to differently but the underlying practice remains unchanged.

We therefore see more or less the same instruments recurring but under

different names. These can always still be meaningful emphases; not

everything needs to change in order to be a new governance model.

D

t

t

Figure D approaches the succession of governance perspectives as blending.

Pop-up public value 37


New concepts are washed onto the existing ones and deposited there but

in the course of time they blend with them to create new forms. The layers

do not lie on top of one another in slices but together they form new layers.

The perspectives adapt and distort one another in the course of interaction.

New ideas alter those that already exist and renew themselves again

through contact with existing governance models that have become

entrenched in practices, routines, and institutions.

Seen in this way, the practice of governance is one of variety. What we see

is not a succession of pure forms but rather a constant blending. There are

all kinds of forms alongside one another that must constantly relate to

one another. Societisation is now gaining strength but it is implemented

in a context that is strongly coloured by the principles from the left-hand

side of Figure 2. Thinking about responsible and planned performance is

embedded in routines and procedures, whereas the practice of the network

and leaving things to citizens operates on the basis of different principles.

Public value does not arise in a sudden transition from one model

to another but through the step-by-step, intermittent integration of the

various different principles. During this process, a bridge needs to be

created between the existing and the new, between the traditional and

the modern. The challenge evoked by the pop-up library is therefore not

merely how “more” of such initiatives can develop but also how the existing

patterns in the public domain will relate to them.

Public administration is perhaps undergoing a transformation or transition

but one of an entirely different order to what those words normally

mean: it is not a radical change to something new but an adaptation to

emerging practices. The system is not being turned on its head but needs

to relate anew to different principles. A lot will remain as it was, while

other parts need to change rapidly. Time will tell which activities, tasks,

and views belong to which category. We may well be entering another

phase but then primarily one of blending and of increasing variety. This

requires not so much adapting to “the new” but above all being able to

deal with plurality. It is not a matter of setting aside what already exists

but of once more coordinating what is good in traditional practice with

the newly developed forms, i.e., synchronising rather than transforming,

radical adaptation rather than large-scale renovation.

38


In this way the governance and organisation of public value becomes, in

the words of Bourgon 68 , more and more a matter of “and” rather than “if”.

It is not so much the ability to learn a new repertoire but the art of recognising

which form fits best in which situation. In this context, it is relevant

that within networks the choice of the form will be made less and less by

the authorities. The decision on how to organise the public domain and

the relationship between the authorities, the market, and the community

is increasingly taken by parties other than the authorities. Choosing then

becomes relating to and recognising the choices made by others. Discussion

of the role of the authorities and the various types of governance that are

appropriate continues. In the meantime, the world is developing further,

separately from the discussions about what may or may not exist or as to

how that development should proceed. If there is one thing that makes

our time period in terms of public administration theory and practice exciting,

it is the powerful upward pressure of social renewal that combines

with an inherent need of the authorities to withdraw. What arises in that

combination is not only a practice of experimentation with new ways of

dividing up the roles, but the necessity of fundamental consideration of

how public authorities, the market, and the community relate to one another.

This essay has sought to clarify the developing narrative of thinking

about governance by the authorities and to provide a conceptual interpretation

of the changing role of those authorities. It is not yet clear what the

next necessary step will be in governance. That will need to be the subject

of discussion, preferably in close contact with the developing practice

emerging in experiments and examples such as the Rotterdam-West

Reading Room. That development is not yet to be found in books that we

can read at the Reading Room, but is developed as we go, namely in the

practices created there.

Pop-up public value 39


Endnotes

1 Illustrated, for example in the various editions of The Community Lover’s

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2 Berlo, D. (2012). Wij, de overheid. Cocreatie in de netwerksamenleving.

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3 Moore, M. (2013). Recognizing Public Value. Cambridge: Harvard University

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4 Council for Public Administration (2012). Loslaten in vertrouwen. Naar

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5 Hoogenboom, M. (2011). Particulier initiatief en overheid in historisch

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6 Meer, F. et al. (2011). Van nachtwakersstaat naar waarborgstaat. Proliferatie

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7 Osborne, D. and T. Gaebler (1992). Reinventing government: how the entrepreneurial

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8 Osborne, D. and T. Gaebler (1992). Reinventing government: how the entrepreneurial

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9 The classic dichotomy between public and private is described, for

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10 Tonkens, E. (2009). Tussen onderschatten en overvragen. Actief burgerschap

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52 Bueren, M. van, Klijn, E.H. & Koppejan, J.F.M. (2003) Dealing with Wicked

Problems in Networks: Analyzing an Environmental Debate from a Network

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53 Dees, J.G. (2007). Taking social entrepreneurship seriously. Society, 2007

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54 Gruijter, M. de & Pels, T. (2005). De Toekomst van buurtvaderschap. Professionalisering

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55 “Pauw & Witteman” show, broadcast 10 January 2013.

46


56 See for example: wrr (2012). Vertrouwen in Burgers. Amsterdam: Amsterdam

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57 Bovens, M. and A. Wille (2011). Diploma-democratie. Over de spanning tussen

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J., B. Denters and P-J. Klok (2011). Welke burger telt mee in de doedemocratie?

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Simon & Schuster; Uitermark, J. and J.W. Duyvendak (2007). De kloof

dichten met straatburgerschap. Agora, 24 (5), p. 31-34.

58 Frissen, P.H.A. (2010). De staat van verschil. Een kritiek van de gelijkheid.

Amsterdam: Van Gennep.

59 Houdt, F. van and W. Schinkel (2009). Aspecten van burgerschap. Een

historische analyse van de transformaties van het burgerschapsconcept

in Nederland. Beleid & Maatschappij, 36 (1), p. 49-57.

60 Verhoeven, I. and M. Ham (2010). Brave burgers gezocht. De grenzen van

de activerende overheid. Amsterdam: Van Gennep; Verhoeven, I. and

E. Tonkens (2012). Actief burgerschap: een wens of een moetje?

(www.socialevraagstukken.nl, consulted 17 April 2013).

61 Kymlicka, W. (1996). Multicultural citizenship: a liberal theory of minority

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een multiculturele wereld. In Leeuwen, B. van and R. Tinnevelt (2005).

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62 Béland, D. and R. Hansen (2000). Reforming the French welfare state:

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63 Moor, T. de. De weg naar public-collective-partnerships. (http://www.collective-action.info/TSS_PCPs,

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65 Council for Public Administration (2004). Burgers betrokken, betrokken

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66 Hurenkamp, M. and M. Rooduijn (2009). Kleinschalige burgerinitiatieven

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68 Bourgon, J. (2011). A New Synthesis of Public Administration: Serving in the

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