Consultants as intermediaries: Their perceptions on citizen involvement in urban development

E.W. Stapper*, M. Van der Veen, L.B. Janssen-Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Planning consultants are increasingly hired to organize citizen participation processes for urban development projects. However, the ways in which planning consultants engage in and perceive the involvement of citizens in urban development projects remain relatively understudied. This article opens the black box of consultancy employees’ perceptions toward citizens in urban development processes. Employees from two consultancy firms in the Netherlands were interviewed, and several focus groups were organized. This research shows that consultants have wide-ranging views concerning the ways of incorporating citizens’ interests in urban development projects. With the use of Q-methodology, a typology of how consultants engage with citizens is proposed. Furthermore, we show that the different perceptions of consultants lead to a different approach in identifying the needs and problems of citizens. This finding gives insight into the context in which decisions about urban development are made.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-78
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Issue number1
Early online date5 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • citizen participation
  • Consultancy
  • development agreement
  • urban development

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