A typology of social entrepreneurs in bottom-up urban development

Auteurs Jeroen Mens , Ellen van Bueren , Ruben Vrijhoef , Erwin Heurkens
Gepubliceerd in Cities: the International journal of urban policy and planning
Publicatiedatum 13 december 2020
Lectoraat Building Future Cities
Soort publicatie Artikel


The emergence of organic planning practices in the Netherlands introduces new, non-conventional, local actors initiating bottom-up urban developments. Dissatisfied with conventional practices and using opportunities during the 2008 financial crisis, these actors aim to create social value, thus challenging prevailing institutions. Intrigued by such actors becoming more present and influential in urban planning and development processes, we aim to identify who they are. We use social entrepreneurship and niche formation theories to analyse and identify three types of social entrepreneurs. The first are early pioneers, adopting roles of a developer and end-user, but lacking position and power to realize goals. Secondly, by acting as boundary spanners and niche entrepreneurs, they evolve towards consolidated third sector organizations in the position to realize developments. A third type are intermediate agents facilitating developments as boundary spanners and policy entrepreneurs, without pursuing urban development themselves but aiming at realizing broader policy goals. Our general typology provides a rich picture of actors involved in bottom-up urban developments by applying theories from domains of innovation management and business transition management to urban planning and development studies. It shows that the social entrepreneurs in bottom-up urban development can be considered the result of social innovation, but this social innovation is set within a neoliberal context, and in many cases passively or actively conditioned by states and markets.

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Taal Engels
Gepubliceerd in Cities: the International journal of urban policy and planning
Jaar en volume 110 2021, 103066
Trefwoorden Bottom-up urban development, social entrepreneurship, Niche formation, Boundary spanner, typology
Digital Object Identifier https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2020.103066

Jeroen Mens

Jeroen Mens | onderzoeker | lectoraat Building Future Cities

Jeroen Mens

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  • Lectoraat: Building Future Cities