International Institute for Innovation in Governance


public administration

How to Create Trust and Connection in Learning for Transformation in Water Governance

Trust is often seen as an important element in settings of knowledge sharing and the co-creation of knowledge for dealing with transformations in water governance. However, seemingly similar conversations during a co-creation workshop in Uppsala resulted in both trust and distrust, and thereby influenced consequent possibilities for the co-creation of knowledge. Therefore, this article focuses on how trust influences knowledge sharing and how knowledge sharing influences trust. We use a case study approach to analyze the Uppsala co-creation workshop—part of the Climate Change Adaptation and Water Governance (CADWAGO) project—by comparing 25 conversations, making use of theories on swift trust and trust dynamics. We found four different conversation patterns (1) sending; (2) defending; (3) misunderstanding; and (4) connecting. The first three patterns influenced trust negatively and did not lead to knowledge sharing, whereas pattern four showed trust development and co-creation of knowledge. From our comparative analyses, we conclude that trust starts to emerge when there is mutual openness and empathy visible in turn-taking patterns. More specifically, trust emerges when communication styles allow for recognition and exploring underlying needs and wishes, resulting in a more dynamic dialogue, further trust development, and connection between actors. Our list of conversation patterns is provisional but we argue that understanding how different kinds of interactions can lead to trust or distrust is crucial to understanding why and how learning takes place—insights that are essential for fostering learning and transformations in water governance.

Jasper R. de Vries, Séverine van Bommel, Chris Blackmore and Yoshiko Asano (2017) Where There Is No History: How to Create Trust and Connection in Learning for Transformation in Water Governance. Water 2017, 9(2), 130; doi: 10.3390/w9020130



Turning New Public Management theory into reality

Within the literature of governance and policy making in the context of planning, the notion of performativity is specifically conceptualized as the self-fulfilling property of performances – such as story-telling – that shape public reality. One specific stream of performativity researchers – dominant in the realm of organization studies – focuses on the enactment of academic theory into reality. We contribute to this idea of bringing theory into being by conceptualizing purposive performative agents who strive to enact a specific theory in reality. Our paper demonstrates through which mechanisms the theory of New Public Management has shaped the reality of public governance at the will of one powerful performative agent. Using a perspective based on performative struggle, our interpretative case study – focused on a large policy process – exhibits how New Public Management doctrine gains influence at the expense of other public management theories. In conclusion, we claim that our findings offer a potential perspective for understanding through which dynamics certain agents aim to shape the public realm in alignment with their preferred theoretical propositions.

Merkus, S., & Veenswijk, M. (2017). Turning New Public Management theory into reality: Performative struggle during a large scale planning process. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 0263774X16689370.


International symposium on land consolidation

The Dutch Cadastre, in cooperation with the FIG, FAO and LANDNET, is organizing an international symposium on land consolidation and land readjustment for sustainable development.

The symposium will address the role of land consolidation and land readjustment in relation the great challenges in terms of food security for a growing world population and the need for sustainable development. It will give participants the opportunity to discuss strategies for sustainable development and designing resilient landscapes that meet the needs of society. The symposium will focus on four themes 1) Land administration, land consolidation and readjustment, 2) good governance, 3) sustainable development and 4)financial arrangements. Each of these themes can be addressed from a historical perspective, from current developments and from the expected needs in the future.

More information can be found on the website:

Dealing with private property for public purposes


On the 6th of June, 2016 Sanne Holtslag-Broekhof successfully defended her PhD-thesis Dealing with prive property of public purposes. An interdisciplinary study of landtransactions from a micro-scale perspective.

Her thesis studies how public organizations deal with private land. During publicly initiated land transactions, central aspects for landowners are a good solution and a feeling of justice. Ideas on just land acquisition are diverse amongst owners and acquirers, but were related to lawfullness, decentness and equality. During land transactions landowners experience many uncertianties. Landowners deal with these uncertainties by creating expectations and act based on these expectations. The risk to end without replacing land, stops many owners from going to court for expropriation. Yet, a comparison between the last compensation offer during the voluntary negotiations and the final compensation in court shows that the final compensation ends on average 52% higher than the last compensation offer.
Since the economic crisis public parties aim for more facilitative land policy, but have often little experience to cooperate with private landowners. The insights of this research help public parties to deal more effective and lawful with private property during spatial developments.

Click here to download the full text of the book

The book includes the papers

Perceived (in)justice of public land acquisition

Understanding land transactions during land use change

Informal Networks of Power and Control of Deviation in Post-Soviet Non-Democracies


Informal networks, practices and institutions may be observed in many different social contexts, particularly in politics. In certain political regimes, certain forms of informality are to be expected and are also tolerated more than in others. Political informality in Eastern Europe may be presented on an axis with two poles, with many variants or combinations of informality and formality between them. These positions also allow the identification of specific regime types and legal systems. This chapter seeks to contextualize the distinction between the formal and the informal and to relate it to types of political regime, the principal focus resting on informal politics. Specific political contexts may produce practices of informality that have become so generalised that they can be described as cultures of informality. The interesting question is: to what extent are specific forms of informal structures more resilient in particular regime types than in others? Particularly looking at some of the more-or-less autocratic Euroasiatic states, one can easily recognize that the very purpose of informal politics and institutions is to restrict or eliminate political competition. Forms and meanings of what is informal and formal change the further one moves eastwards. Formal rules are and may be used together with informal institutions to control society. All this points to specific cultures of informality that can be observed, as well as different cultures of trust and distrust. On the other hand, such cultures of informality have to be considered in the context of specific political systems, together with their regimes (the concrete configurations of political power) and their organisations. This paper looks particularly at hybrid non-democracies and suggests one might consider them, in the perspective of Niklas Luhmann‘s system theory, as parasites of functional differentiation.

Hayoz, N. (2016) Informal Networks of Power and Control of Deviation in Post-Soviet Non-Democracies. International Relations and Diplomacy, 4 (1): 60-69.



How to improve the adaptive capacity of Dutch Planning

10 proposals for change that, once implemented, will make the planning system less rigid and more adaptive.


> New book. Free download @ InPlanning.

> More information about Evolutionary Governance  @

Spatial planning is facing a paradox. The last decades have witnessed a growing number of scholars and professionals that criticize the possibilities of planning and who repeatedly show that planning fails to live up to its promises. Planning, some argue, is an ideal of the past that got dashed in the complex reality of contemporary society. Others take a more positive stance and believe spatial planning is indispensable if we want to tackle environmental and social issues, like climate change, rapid urban development, the increasing economic & social inequality in cities, food security, the decline of biodiversity and so on. Dealing with these opposite views on the possibilities and limits of planning requires us to develop novel perspectives on what planning is and how it works in different contexts, as well as new approaches that can help in realizing desired futures.

The book Spatial Planning in a Complex and Unpredictable World of Change, edited by Luuk Boelens and Gert de Roo, explores such novel perspective on spatial planning, taking into account the dynamic, non-linear, and often unpredictable nature of planning practices. It seeks innovation in planning theory and planning practices. For that reason it brings together theoretical and empirical reflections that seek to unravel and explain the processes of co-evolution that mark governance and planning. In the chapter Evolutionary Governance Theory and the Adaptive Capacity of the Dutch Planning System  by Raoul Beunen, Martijn Duineveld and Kristof Van Assche, Evolutionary Governance Theory is explained and developed to reflect on the success and failures of the Dutch planning system and its possibilities to adapt to ever changing circumstances.

Evolutionary Governance Theory is a novel framework for understanding the changing roles and forms of planning in a society. It is a theory of planning, steering and management that takes non-linearity and unpredictability into account. Therewith it offers a more refined understanding of how planning really works. Using the concepts of path, inter and goal dependency, we explore the possible pathways of planning in the Netherland. We conclude that the acceptance of complexity and non-linearity demand the planning system to embrace and enhance reflexivity and flexibility as important prerequisites for adaptation and innovation.

We end our chapter with a list of ten changes that, once implemented, will make the planning system less rigid and more adaptive. Some recommendations will necessarily be more abstract, others more concrete:

  1. Rethink the academic discipline planning. To become more applied, more useful for society in the long run, the discipline needs to become less applied and more reflexive and analytical. This would allow the discipline to produce new perspectives that can be introduced in the planning system and might strengthen it adaptive capacity.
  2. Include and accept disciplines and groups like anthropologists, geographers, journalists artists and entrepreneurs to reflect on the Dutch planning system and the many planning practices. Don’t just observe planning from the dominant planning perspective.
  3. To prevent rigidities, in the form of dominant discourses on what planning is and should be, it is important to become aware of the contingent nature of the ‘true’ meaning of planning. Accept that things always could have been different and that they might be different in the future. Once this is understood and accepted, one can allow different views, different perspectives to impact planning.
  4. Planning is a means, a form of spatial coordination that can be effective and bring forward something good. But one has to recognize that other forms of spatial coordination are possible. Planning might emerge without the label planning. That however, should not lead us to abandon the project of planning; it is just that some of the assumptions regarding the power of planning and planners are metamorphosed remnants of a modernist ideology.
  5. Accept that the life of organisations should be subject to the planning system not the other way around. Reform or, if necessary, get rid of the planning organisations and research centres that are no longer required in a planning system that embraces the notions of complexity and non-linearity.
  6. Besides planners many other actors, individuals and organisations, affect spatial organisation. Make these more explicit and include them in the planning system and its embedded perspective. There are all kinds of actors performing roles that have traditionally been ascribed to planners or designers. Many of these actors are not recognised as planners and designers, yet they plan, they design, they mould landscapes. A reflection on how the roles of planning in society have evolved over the last few decades could bring to the fore many other existing and possible roles that remained unnoticed within the dominate planning perspective. Think of art school students working on temporally roof top gardens, citizens taking care of their back yard, cultural heritage or health care. Think of civil servants who dare to think beyond the normalised and juridical reproduction of restrictions.
  7. Creativity, flexibility, and diversity are pre-requirements for adaptation and innovation. Avoid the pitfalls of tight delineations of roles. Strong role expectations delimit the possibilities for the reflection on and transformation of roles. Unwanted rigidities can be created if too much emphasis is given to core-curricula or professional registers.
  8. Try to untie the strong links between government, companies and scientists that are created via funding constructions and innovation policies. Most of these strongly restrict innovation since they reduce the space for diverging perspectives. Provide scientist with space for critical reflections and allow planning practitioners the option not take the advises of scientist into account. Leave aside the idea the science can legitimatise planning decisions; planning decisions, in whatever form, will always be politics, not science.
  9. Recognise the same rationales under the seemingly new approaches and theories. Many of the planning policies and approaches that emerged as an answer to perceived problems failed because they didn’t fit the particular context and mainly reproduced old practices. Either they emanated from perspectives that did not grasp the present manners of coordinating policies and practices, or, conversely, because they did see new situations too much in the light of old stories.
  10. Foster experiment and allow diversity. Diversity can be found if new and different actors are involved in the planning processes. This will increase the chance that new ideas and approaches will emerge, but be aware that it is unlikely that these can easily be copied to other places.

The complete book can be downloaded from the website of InPlanning. Our chapter Evolutionary Governance Theory and the Adaptive Capacity of the Dutch Planning System can also be downloaded from Researchgate. More information about Evolutionary Governance Theory and innovation in governance can be found at the website

Readings in Planning Theory


The fourth edition of Readings in Planning Theory brings together the essential classic and cutting-edge readings in planning theory. It introduces and defines key debates in planning theory with editorial materials and readings selected both for their accessibility and importance The book is edited by Susan Fainstein and James DeFilippis.

This 4th edition is the best-available compendium and analysis of planning theory. Remarkably, the editors manage to retain many of the foundational readings while also producing a volume that is overwhelmingly grounded in new scholarship. This expands the canon to show how theory can be inspired and produced by practitioners and scholars engaged with far more than the United States and Europe” (Lawrence J. Vale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Part of book the are available via googlebooks

New book: Theory and applications

EGTIIThis new book in the series on Evolutionary Governance Theory (EGT) presents empirical studies and theoretical reflections on the most important concepts and their interrelations. Through this book we learn how communities understand themselves and their environment. Authors from different disciplines develop the EGT framework further and apply it to a wide range of governance issues covering topics such as welfare state governance, networks of power, climate change, water governance, natural resource management etc. The contributors reflect on the possibilities and limitations of steering, intervention, management and development in a world continuously in flux.

The book bridges the gap between more fundamental and philosophical accounts of the social sciences and applied studies, offering theoretical advancement as well as practical recommendations.

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