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AbstractThe first report (2013) by the Association of Netherlands Municipalities think tank deals with the question of how local governments can improve their own performance regarding the current trend of social initiatives in which citizens organize themselves to tackle problems in their neighborhoods. Kleistra and Walraven discuss the method, content and findings of the report. They question the widely used citizen perspective that is adopted by the think tank as a starting point for further research on the topic; its uncritical stance with regard to the highly debated issue of citizen participation; the limited research effort that underpins its overall findings and conclusions; and in particular its unequivocal call for large scale municipal experimenting and improvising without further elaborating on the key question of ‘how to proceed’ for the benefit of municipal policymakers. This brings them to the conclusion that the report itself generates highly relevant questions, but that these questions should be addressed more effectively than has so far been the case, by connecting in-depth empirical research on municipal performance with regard to citizens initiatives to the large body of scientific knowledge on citizen participation.
Bestuurskunde 23(4), 54-63 (2014)