How to define succesful citizens' initiatives? A professional perspective.
In the backdrop of depopulation and the participation society, citizen initiatives in rural areas are expected to contribute to community liveability by maintaining various types of facilities in the area. Studies on which factors influence the success or failure of citizen initiatives have thus far neglected to conceptualize what actually is regarded as successful or unsuccessful, although it is relevant to have a clear expectation of what citizen initiatives can achieve, and when and in which sense they can be called successful (or not). Is a financially independent citizen initiative more successful than an initiative that represents the wishes of an entire community? Or can a citizen initiative only be successful if it achieves the goals that were initially set? This study aims to conceptualize determinants of success and failure of rural citizen initiatives from the perspective of professionals in the field of depopulating rural areas. Three focus group discussions were conducted with in total 23 experts from local governments, housing corporations or consultancy bureaus in the North of the Netherlands. The resulting conceptualization will add to future research in studying factors influencing success or failure of citizen initiatives. Furthermore, it may improve evaluations of the achievements of the citizen initiatives and classifications of various types of initiatives.