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Situational Contracting: Building Reciprocity between Rights and Obligations



Individualism, cultural pluralism, and pressures from globalization are putting a strain on matching demand and supply of public services. Citizens want tailor-made solutions, professionals in delivery systems need degrees of freedom to customize supply, and complexity brings along information asymmetries and strategic behavior. All this calls for a new look at interactive governance. This article develops a mode of situational contracting that reveals preference at the level of the individual actor, generates trust in mutual adjustment, and creates scope for customization and innovation in public management. It sets out a strategy, presents results of an early application in the Netherlands, and suggests further applications.