Intermunicipal Cooperation in the Netherlands

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


In the Netherlands, since the 1950s, successive governments have made
attempts at introducing new regional public authorities, which should
either replace municipal government or serve as an add-on to the traditional
system of local government. The dire fate of these efforts is well
documented. Because of the continuous failure of these reforms, the
entire weight of the coordination and cooperation of regional affairs still
rests on a polycentric system of cooperation, labelled by some as a “crazy-quilt”
pattern of inter-municipal cooperation (IMC). In this chapter, we attempt to describe some of the features of the Dutch way of organizing IMC. For this purpose, we use the results of a study that was performed in 2015. This comprehensive study contains structural data on cooperation from all 393 Dutch
municipalities in 2015. Due to amalgamations, the number of municipalities
has, however, dropped to 388 in 2017. Next to these structural data,
a survey was conducted using key informants from all municipalities collecting
data on their perceptions of the democratic quality of IMCs, their
performance and relational aspects of cooperation.
We start with a short outline of the basic features of the institutional
structure for IMC. Next, we describe a number of characteristics of the
IMC network as it appeared at the time of the study. Then, we describe
the democratic quality and the performance (costs and benefits) of IMC
as perceived by our respondents. Finally, we provide some information on
the relational aspects of cooperation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInter-Municipal Cooperation in Europe
Subtitle of host publicationInstitutions and Governance
EditorsFilipe Teles, Pawel Swianiewicz
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-62819-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-62818-9
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2017

Publication series

NameGovernance and public management


  • regional governance
  • intermunicipal cooperation


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