Motivating citizens!?

Subproject A

The Dutch municipality of Hollands Kroon deleted over 70% of its local regulations, hoping that this would motivate citizens to engage more in ‘public policing’.

Some people really liked this idea, but others were afraid that crossing out so many local regulations would result in a state of ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’.

Together with prof. dr. Taco Brandsen and dr. Berry Tholen, I investigated the effects of this ‘massive’ deregulation experiment over a time span of over three years.

We did, however, found no significant changes over the years in terms of both misconduct (as shown in official crime statistics) and public policing (as reported in our longitudinal survey study). In the late autumn, our research results will be published in Bestuurskunde.

However, we found differences in reported public policing between citizens. We are currently reanalyzing the data to test our theory about why some citizens engage more in public policing than other citizens.

Subproject B

In the Netherlands, municipalities put effort (at least in theory) to facilitate citizens who want to set up a ‘local initiative’ aimed at, for example, maintaining a public garden, running a neighbourhood watch, or organizing a fancy fair.

A look at aggregrated results of over 150 citizen polls made avaible at shows large differences, however, in the degree to which Dutch municipalities succeed in facilitating such efforts in the eyes of their citizens.

In this subproject, I will answer the question how can governments better facilitate such initiatives by investigating differences in anwer patterns in these polls both between municipalities and within municipalities.

To study differences within municipalities, I am granted access to the individual-level results of these citizen-polls by the Dutch cooperation of municipalities (Verengiging van Nederlandse Gemeenten).

Interestingly, the polls also contain open questions in which citizens were given the opportunity to share their own ideas about local initiatives. The answers to these questions have not been analysed before (given the scale of the data set)…

Hopefully, these open questions provide important cues about what governments can do to support citizens’ initiatives and reveal something about differences in citizens’ creativity across municipalities?


Kruyen, P.M., Brandsen, T., & Tholen, B. (accepted). De ongekende effecten van deregulering: Een experiment in Hollands Kroon. Bestuurskunde.

In the media

NOS (2016). Het nieuwe werken: Zelf het plantsoen doen, de gemeente betaalt [The new way of working: Maintaining the public garden, the municipality pays]. Link.


Sharing my thoughts on deregulation
Sep 12, 2018 1:00 PM