Studio AMS

Contemporary Public Administration

Datum: 07-05-2016 Auteur: Endymion Struijs

As an auditor, I consider and assess my client's governance. Subject to such micro level assessments are the company's social cohesion, its leadership's span of control, the explicitness of its strategy and (ethical) shared values.

When I read today's edition of Dutch newspaper: NRC Handelsblad, on social cohesion in Europe, sovereignty of individual countries and mutual solidarity among European citizens, I realized that the outcome of my macro level "governance" considerations for my country, The Netherlands, would quite differ from its current design.

Currently the country's administration is a cascade of democracy at municipality, province (or state) and country level (and of course European level on top of). Despite the limited rise of local political parties, the traditional political parties (a.o. CDA, PVDA, VVD, D66, Groenlinks) are represented at all levels. Careers of politicians usually start at local level, and if succesful, continue at province and/or country levels. Besides, the voter turnout ratios at elections differ significantly among the various levels and even among the various provinces and municipalities.

If I approach the country from a (business) market perspective, I conclude that the composition of regional markets doesnot align with the current design of the NL Public Administration.

Limburg, Friesland, Drente, Gelderland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Groningen seem distinctive regional markets, which pretty much coincide with the provinces' borders. Especially the latter two are essentialy metropolitan areas with one central city, Utrecht and Groningen, with suburban municipalities. Overijssel has two parts: Twente (twin cities: Enschede / Hengelo) and (the remaining) province of Overijssel (including a.o. Zwolle, Lelystad, Kampen). Brabant has two parts: Eindhoven and West Brabant, including the cities of Breda, Den Bosch and Tilburg. Zuid-Holland on the other hand is like Utrecht and Groningen a metropolitan area but of the twin city a.k.a. Rotterdam / The Hague with suburban municipalities (including a.o. Delft and Leiden). North Holland is like Brabant divided into two areas: North Holland as a province with Alkmaar as its main city and of course.....Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (including Almere, Gooi, Haarlem, Airport Schiphol / Haarlemmermeer and Port of Amsterdam / Zaanstad).

Illustrative for above categorisation are various social infrastructures, which play a central role in those regional (metro) areas: Universities, Academic Hospitals, Airports and cultural heritage. In my view this confirms the redundancy of one administration level. Since metropolitan areas coincide with province level, one administration level seems more effective and efficient than two. Bycatch is that if citizens feel more committed to its region, the voter turnout ratios will increase and hence the level of democracy will enhance. 

In summary my regional market approach and design of a Contemporary Public Administration for The Netherlands are the following:

  • Amsterdam Metropolitan Area
  • North Holland
  • Rotterdam / The Hague Metropolitan Area
  • Utrecht
  • Friesland
  • Groningen
  • Drente
  • Overijssel
  • Twente Metropolitan Area
  • Gelderland
  • Limburg
  • Eindhoven Metropolitan Area
  • West Brabant
  • Zeeland