As in other European countries, the formal planning task of Dutch governments is subjected to devolution and austerity measures. Not only did these developments lead to outsourcing planning tasks to lower-level governments, also citizens are increasingly ‘invited’ to take responsibility for providing public facilities and services. In De Achterhoek, a Dutch region, these shifts are amplified due to population change and traditional active citizenship, and led to institutional change. Since a decade local governments stimulate citizen initiatives, under the umbrella of participatory governance. This process of institutional change did not alter formal institutions, but was the result of an informal and dialectic process between local governments and citizen organizations. In this paper, we will demonstrate the process of change and how it affected planning practices in De Achterhoek, building on theories of informal institutional change and its driving forces. The empirical part of this paper draws on the results of three focus group meetings, in which a diverse set of local stakeholders discussed the effects of change they observed and how it shaped planning practices. In the final section, we reflect on the degree of institutionalization, by examining the robustness and resilience of the observed change.
Meijer, M., & van der Krabben, E. (2018). Informal institutional change in De Achterhoek region: from citizen initiatives to participatory governance. European Planning Studies, 1-23.