Public authorities are exploring new ways to collaborate with non-governmental – public and private – actors. Recently, authorities increasingly seem to opt to facilitate the initiatives of these actors. Not much is yet known about what facilitating authorities actually do, what their struggles and successes are, and with what effects they facilitate non-governmental initiatives. This research aims to answer the question: Why, how, and with what effects do governments facilitate the actions of non-governmental actors to create public value? This question is answered by conducting five in-depth studies of cases in which Dutch water authorities facilitate, or aim to facilitate, non-governmental initiatives. The initiatives are taken by private actors and by an NGO.

The difficulties and dilemmas that facilitating authorities face are analysed, just as the way they can deal with these. Different forms of government facilitation are distinguished. Furthermore, the dynamics of government facilitation are studied and several success factors are set out. The picture that emerges from this study of the facilitating government is one of a seeking and a struggling government; a government that feels the need to do things differently, tries to do things differently, encounters significant barriers and dilemmas in doing this, and in reaction sometimes sees no other solution than to revert to familiar ways of working. The research results add some footnotes to the optimistic, uncomplicated, and unambiguous image of government facilitation that emerges from governments’ discourse and some of the literature.

This dissertation can be useful for authorities that aim to facilitate non-governmental initiatives, for societal actors that aim to take such initiatives, and for scholars that study or want to learn more about new forms of collaboration between public authorities and non-governmental actors.

Additional Metadata
Keywords government facilitation, New Public Governance, Public-Private Partnerships, participation, collaboration, self-organisation, water governance, public sector innovation
Promotor E-H. Klijn (Erik-Hans) , M.W. van Buuren (Arwin)
Sponsor This research was financially supported by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme [grant number 320090]; the European Regional Development Fund [grant number 21 N.015]; and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research [grant number 409-14-014], co-financed by the Netherlands School of Public Administration (NSOB), Deltares, Rebel Group, Resetmanagement, Twynstra Gudde, and Rijkswaterstaat.
ISBN 978-94-6361-284-5
Persistent URL
Grotenbreg, S. (2019, July 5). Government Facilitation: Dilemmas of the Enabling State. Retrieved from