Dynamics in the Dutch policy advisory system: externalization, politicization and the legacy of pillarization

Caspar F. van den Berg*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Although the literature on policy advisory systems has experienced a revival in recent years, its empirical focus has mainly been on Anglophone countries (Craft and Halligan 2016). This paper applies the policy advisory systems approach to the Netherlands, which can serve as an example of the dynamics in the policy advisory systems of consensus-driven, neo-corporatist polities Lijphart in Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries, 21, 235-266 1999). Using a historical-institutionalist perspective, the dynamics of the Dutch policy advisory system from the mid-1960s to the present day are examined. Based on original cross-time survey data and an analysis of secondary sources, the impact of depillarization (mid-1960s-mid-1990s), new public management (mid-1980s onwards) and an increased pressure on the executive have had for the Dutch policy advisory system (from the late 1990s): fragmentation, externalization and a non-partisan brand of politicization are shown. More specifically, the use of the institutionalized system of permanent advisory councils has lost part of its significance in favour of both external consultants and ad hoc advisory committees. The Dutch case, with its accumulative institutional design based on Weberianism, neo-corporatism and new public management elements, has thus experienced markedly different dynamics in its policy advice system than the Anglophone countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-84
Number of pages22
JournalPolicy Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Policy advisory systems
  • Politicization
  • Public sector reform
  • The Netherlands
  • Advisory councils
  • Consultants
  • Pillarization

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