Exemplary practitioners in shrinking regions Examining the role of exemplary practitioners in citizens’ initiatives in the dawn of the Omgevingswet

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Population decline, also described as shrinkage - is a persistent issue and is manifesting itself mostly in rural areas in Europe. The issue is met with thorough discussion in politics, scientific research and debates. Today, we notice a shift in the ‘shrink-thinking’: from a negative one to seeing and seizing the opportunities. Hence, citizens’ initiatives can play an important role. Especially those initiatives in which a so called ‘exemplary practitioner’ plays a crucial role. This person wants to make change happen through means of providing a safe space for interaction, transparent communication and consequently aligning different needs and desires. He or she connects the formal with the informal and can be considered as a ‘social’ brooker. The research focuses on a number of initiatives in the Dutch provinces of Limburg and Gelderland where a similar person has been pivotal for success. The thesis’ ultimate goal is to link this person to the participation section of the Omgevingswet, which is scheduled to come into effect in 2021. Recommendations will be made regarding a possible ‘method’ or form of participation, which is a prerequisite, while the shape is free.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen