Chapter 8

Collaborative Innovation Processes in Dutch Regional Water Governance - The Role of Niches and Policy Entrepreneurs in Fostering (Strategic) Policy Innovation

Hanneke Gieske and Arwin van Buuren


In this chapter, we investigate how collaborative governance contributes to spurring innovation in regional water management. We analyze a collaborative innovation effort in regional water management in The Netherlands. In a unique endeavour, nine municipalities united in a city region and a regional water authority, together with private parties, crafted a joint innovation program aimed at developing new knowledge and innovative solutions for persistent inundation problems in the area. In addition to innovative solutions in selected experimental areas, the collaborative effort gave rise to a paradigm shift in regional inundation protection policy – from a norm-oriented approach to a more modern, adaptive, effect-oriented approach. We apply a multilevel perspective to analyze the (co-evolving) developments at three levels: the macro level of the national (policy) landscape, the meso level of the regional water management regime, and the micro level of experimental areas or niches. Our analysis reveals that learning processes on these three levels are important to trigger policy innovation, but that these processes have to become connected by the deliberate interventions of policy entrepreneurs to really result in a paradigm shift.

Total Pages: 157-179 (23)

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