Partnerships in Urban Restructuring: Building Long‐term Relationships or a Pragmatic Managerial Tool? The Dutch Experience


In urban governance literature, much attention is paid to the ideas and ideals of cooperation in policy networks, in particular to the motives and objectives of cooperation at the start of urban restructuring processes. However, little consideration has been given to the dynamics of working in partnerships or to the conditions for long‐term joint capacity building. In this article, we call attention to these issues. The main question addressed is: Which factors contribute to long‐term cooperation? We have elicited the information required to answer the question through in‐depth interviews with professionals and residents’ representatives working in six Dutch urban restructuring neighbourhoods. Although we found some attempts to build long‐term joint working capacity to address residents’ needs, the findings indicate that this endeavour is impeded by the dominance of a scaled neoliberal governance arrangement in Dutch urban restructuring that features a strong market rationality with fragmentation in policies, time, space and decision‐making power. We show that this situation hampers success in integrally addressing residents’ needs in urban restructuring neighbourhoods. We conclude that, for more inclusive and coherent policies, the abandonment of neoliberal rationalities in urban policies is a first requirement for developing a real joint working capacity to address residents’ needs in distressed neighbourhoods.