Beladen begrippen (Emotionally Charged Concepts)
- Hanneke Möhring, Carolien Gehrels, Peter Plug, Roel in 't Veld
- The Hague: Van Gorcum, 2002
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Beladen begrippen (Emotionally Charged Concepts) is all about conflicts and skirmishes between politicians and public servants at the top of the government's Public Administration. There is a close working relationship between politicians and top public servants and it is normal for differences of opinion or clashes to occur from time to time. Conflicts to a certain degree consequently form a normal part of this relationship. However, sometimes these conflicts take on unusual proportions and develop into real political-public administrative clashes of national proportions, whereby the personal conflict is usually blown out of proportion in the media. What happened? Why did these conflicts get out of hand to such an extent that at least one of the involved parties was forced to resign?
The authors decided to look for underlying patterns. The trust and loyalty concepts play a key role in this regard. It turns out that the main players in conflicts often interpret 'usually implicitly' the meanings of these concepts differently. What are these meanings? How do they come into being? And what influence do these different interpretations have on the course of the conflict?
The book provides a number of possible answers to these questions and attempts, on the basis of practical examples, to clarify the behaviour of main players during political-public administration conflicts. In so doing it also provides a basis that makes it possible to better predict such behaviour and invites reflection.
On the occasion of the publication of the Beladen begrippen (Emotionally Charged Concepts) a panel discussion took place at the Sociëteit De Witte establishment in The Hague. A good opportunity to talk about trust and loyalty in the Public Administration: the kabinet-Balkenende (the governing cabinet in the Netherlands) had just fallen and the battle between ministers Bomhoff and Heinsbroek dominated the media. In front of an audience of directly involved parties â€" including top public servants and administrators - Guusje ter Horst (Mayor of the City of Nijmegen), Roel Bekker (Secretary General of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment), Roel in 't Veld (scholar and joint author) and Hanneke Möhring (joint author) spoke about trust and loyalty in the Public Administration. Does trust in fact exist within the political domain or should we speak about 'organised distrust? Is a public servant permitted to broadcast his own opinions about certain policy domains in Nieuwspoort (an international media centre) or should he fully conform to the opinions of his minister? Interesting questions that generated lively discussion. The framework presented in this book provides the handles required to arrive at a balanced judgment.