- Managing Randstad Holland?   click here to open paper content221 kb
by    Storm, Ernst | Ernst.Storm@provincie-utrecht.nl   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
To do yourself
In the delta of the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt rivers Northwest Europe has met the world's seas and cultures since time immemorial. During centuries Hollanders reclaimed large parts of the country from the sea. Their ‘delta’ economy of cities, provinces and water boards in the west of the Netherlands has contributed to the development of an attractive country and a governance policy, in managerial terms sometimes referred to as ‘Poldermodel’.

The poly-nuclear network metropolis of Randstad Holland represents the urban and peri-urban area of Western Holland (>6 million inhabitants, 4500 km2). It is the functionally differentiated motor of Dutch economy, with some clusters of excellence, including one of the major content driven intersections in the global e-community.

The area can be seen as a ‘ring of cities’ that is gradually developing into a metropolitan region. Its agricultural ‘green heart’, with areas of abundant water, has the potential to stand out as a recreational network area, along with nature reserve areas. The region's strengths in Europe are the main air and sea ports, professional staff, the flower and agricultural industry, international
tourism, and the position of the national governmental seat as an international city of peace and justice. The differences between Dutch cities create optimal conditions for functionally differentiated government, although financially the Netherlands is still being quite centralised.

On that basis the provinces of North-Holland, South-Holland, Utrecht and Flevoland, the four major cities Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht, and the regional bodies around these cities have started in the 1990s a super regional co-operation. Its aim is to strengthen the international competitive position and to maintain the high quality of life in Randstad Holland.

At the heart of the ‘poldermodel’ policymaking is the widely spread political and non-governmental power. City, regional and provincial councils and governments are ruling their territories along with public water boards and private corporations, such as chambers of commerce and housing boards. But, the country being small, national government ministries and agencies, as well as business associations and citizens boards, take full part in almost everything that’s going on.

During economically abundant eras, and when the pace of development is not too fast, the mutual understanding of policies and practices works perfectly. Now that there is a shortage of investment activity, and a growth in population diversity, resulting in a lack of social cohesion, going the poldermodel way gets rough. This is the case in the cities and on a national level.

The all-Dutch easygoing attitude of not thriving for the top, however, prevents a thorough policy to promote the strengths and to designate the Holland part of the Netherlands to a special position and mission. Also, the political-administrative attitude these days is quick success-oriented, rather than interested in long-term policy. This is being reflected in an island mentality of some departments of state government, leading to elaborate planning procedures. Finally the scale of Randstad Holland, almost half of the nations economy on less than 15% of the territory of the Netherlands, makes a special position relatively hard to realise.

Nonetheless, a presentation is to be expected on the input and the results of politically and managerially co-ordinated daily practises of the public Randstad Holland co-operation.
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