Social Innovation

Pilot project into new role local government in participation society

In the participation society of the future, not only the role of citizens and market players will change but also that of the government. How and when can the government ‘let go in confidence’ or refrain from intervening in autonomous social processes? How and when can the government be credible in claiming public functions and responsibilities? On a local level, the Tilburg municipality and the Tilburg School of Politics and Public Administration of Tilburg University have conducted joint interaction research into these issues and proposed solutions. The pilot was led by public administration scholars Frank Hendriks and Tamara Metze.

Like many municipalities that have traditionally operated in close consultation with society, the Tilburg municipal authorities are looking for a new role in a participation society: facilitating and stimulating citizens’ initiatives. To that end, the Tilburg municipality is developing a new Tilburg approach to the participating government and does so together with initiators in society, with entrepreneurs and knowledge institutions, such as Tilburg University.

Thus, the project and the further initiatives of the Tilburg municipality and Tilburg University are good examples of social innovation, whereby the municipality, entrepreneurs, citizens, and knowledge institutions cooperate creatively to find new solutions to social issues.

The pilot showed that there are many variations in government participation. The most important things are to understand which variant is most suitable for what type of initiative and that social energy must be taken seriously.

The interaction study was completed in June 2015 and was followed up with, among other things, work sessions with the Tilburg City Council, within the municipal administration, and in a practical seminar during an international scientific conference in Lille, France, where the city clerk had a group of approximately 25 scholars at her disposal to learn further about new ways in which the municipality and citizens can work together.

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