Between Arguments, Interests and Expertise: The Institutional Development of the Dutch Water Boards, 1953-Present

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"The Dutch water boards perform essential tasks for the Netherlands and generally effectively, yet they have often been called old-fashioned, ineffective and expensive. This paper describes and analyses the discussions on the water boards since 1953 in order to increase insight in the factors that influence institutional change in water management. In this period the water boards have changed a lot: their number has been reduced from 2670 to 24, they got new tasks, and more groups are now represented and contribute financially. But they have also successfully resisted proposals to abolish them or cancel the reserved seats for specific groups. Change occurred when groups with a vested interest in the water boards, such as agriculture, saw the change as strengthening the boards, and when these groups were relatively weak and could be overruled. In other cases there was continuity. One of the factors influencing the strength of these groups was their influence on public discourse via, for instance, the many advisory bodies with water board experts on them."



agriculture, governance and politics