Governments are increasingly challenged by self-organizing community initiatives that seek to contribute to or even take the lead in public value creation. The reason for citizen-led instead of government-led public value creation is part of two larger governance trends. The first is the increased specialized, mission-oriented approach to large social challenges by government agencies. The second trend is the increased emphasis on accountability, productivity, and efficiency, following the New Public Management philosophy. As a response to these trends, community initiatives challenge the usual mechanisms, principles, and practices of government agencies. These initiatives are characterized by more integrated and inclusive approaches for dealing with societal problems. In turn, government agencies struggle with the way they can organize productive responses to the initiatives communities take in creating public value. In this study, we explore the rationales behind processes of public value creation in which communities take the lead. We explored these processes in Dutch water management. In this highly functionally specialized domain, we compared two cases in which communities take on leadership for integrated initiatives, including other societal functions and tasks adjacent to water management.
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