Five Ways to Make a Difference: Perceptions of Practitioners Working in Urban Neighborhoods

Cathrine Durose, Merlijn van Hulst, Stephen Jeffars, Oliver Escobar, Annika Agger, Laurens de Graff

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article responds to and develops the fragmented literature exploring intermediation in public administration and urban governance. It uses Q-methodology to provide a systematic comparative empirical analysis of practitioners who are perceived as making a difference in urban neighborhoods. Through this analysis, an original set of five profiles of practitioners—enduring, struggling, facilitating, organizing, and trailblazing—is identified and compared. This research challenges and advances the existing literature by emphasizing the multiplicity, complexity, and hybridity, rather than the singularity, of individuals perceived as making a difference, arguing that different practitioners make a difference in different ways. The authors set out a research agenda, overlooked in current theorization, that focuses on the relationships and transitions between the five profiles and the conditions that inform them, opening up new avenues for understanding and supporting practice
Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Administration Review
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)576–586
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Cite this