The participation society and its inability to correct the failure of market players to deliver adequate service levels in rural areas

This paper critically reviews the ‘participation society’ inspired policy measures of two Dutch provinces (Drenthe and Groningen) for providing rural broadband. Based on a database with broadband initiatives, interviews with stakeholders, focus groups and document analysis, it analyzes how rural broadband initiatives and regional governments interact in their ventures to provide superfast broadband to rural communities. Essential in this is that in the Dutch participation society concept, citizens' initiatives are seen as an important actor to deal with failing service delivery by market players in rural areas. The relation between regional governments and citizens' initiatives, however, is troublesome, resulting in inadequate policies. Key findings are that even when governments come up with supportive policies for citizens' initiatives, initiatives still experience governmental efforts as constraining factors. Regional governments apply ‘old style’ governance and construct generic policy instruments, forcing initiatives to put a lot of effort in complying with generic policy requirements or political goals. Overall, solving a national market problem at the regional level proves to be problematic. More national guidance is needed to solve the rural broadband gap.


The participation society and its inability to correct the failure of market players to deliver adequate service levels in rural areas