This issue-paper written by the panel-conveners introduces the panel’s topic, delineating its focus and discussing its scientific and practical relevance. It presents core concepts and ideas, aiming to provide context, direction and a common language to the panel discussions and the panelist papers. The paper discusses the rise of new citizen collectives (grass roots initiatives, community trusts, social enterprises, citizen initiatives) as new forms of civic engagement in policy fields such as energy, spatial planning, social care, community provisions and social services more generally. Under such models, citizens take the lead in dealing with common, or localized problems and public issues and are directly engaged in developing and implementing solutions and services. The emergence of citizen collectives give rise to new practical and theoretical questions concerning the meaning of these citizen collectives for local communities and government. The implications of this growing reliance of citizen collectives as vehicles for policy development and service delivery on the community sector has yet to be fully explored. In this paper, we aim to describe the rise and the forces shaping these new citizen collectives and to analyze their institutional characteristics, including to what extent they are new. Furthermore, we explore what these initiatives have to offer in terms of their democratic potential and what they mean for government and public management in particular, providing an agenda for further research into this blooming topic. The paper ends by identifying a number of issues, which if more deeply examined, will better help us to understand the functioning of citizens collectives and the challenges they face from a public management perspective. We think these issues are worthwhile for further debate during our panel and are summarized in the concluding section of this paper.
IRSPM conference, March 30 – April 1, 2015
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

van Meerkerk, I., Koppenjan, J., & Keast, R. (2015). New citizen collectives, their democratic potential and their implications for public management. Presented at the IRSPM conference, March 30 – April 1, 2015. Retrieved from