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When the voluntary sector meets business: the Stuttgart Market Place

Change management

The idea for the Stuttgart Market Place came from the Netherlands but in Germany it has been disseminated by the Bertelsmann Foundation. This is how Reinhold Halder, Head of community engagement in Stuttgart City Council, first heard of the approach. He thought it could be a good way to get local business involved in the local community, so he decided to run a social Market Place in Stuttgart in 2007. As he and his team of staff quickly realised, the successful implementation of this interactive exchange model requires careful planning in advance. In particular, a number of preparatory meetings were held of the organising partnership - Stuttgart City Council, GENO-Verband (the sponsor) and the nonprofit consultancy mehrwert (in English “Added Value”). Moreover, it took time and effort to attract a sufficient number of voluntary organisations and companies. Clearly, this was even harder in 2010 because of the economic crisis. Before the actual Stuttgart Market Place took place, two separate preparatory workshops were organised for the participants from the voluntary and business sector.

Given that the actual event only last two hours, every minute has to count, so the whole event has to be carefully designed. Obviously, time management and the effective support of organisers and brokers are key to the negotiations which take place in the Market Place. Typically, a social Market Place should be opened by a high-ranking local person who can give it status within the community and business sectors.  In the case of Stuttgart, both events were opened by the (directly elected) Mayor, Dr. Wolfgang Schuster. After Dr. Wolfgang Schuster sounded the opening ‘gong’, participants were invited to present their offers in so-called ‘trading corners’. The trading corners in the first Market Place were labelled: 1. Festivals and Parties 2. Hardware and Craft Working 3. Advice and Coaching 4. Professional Training. In 2010 we simplified the themes to 1. Manpower 2. Know-How and 3. Hardware.

Clearly, bidders have to know how to attract interest –some did this did this through dressing up and other gimmicks. For example, one participant turned up with a rose in a gun, a cabinet maker brought a coloured wooden saw and one participant from a voluntary group which looks after prisoners came in a prison outfit.

If the negotiations between business and voluntary sector representatives are successful, their agreement gets a certificate from a team of external experts, who seal it with a stamp (this may be a very German touch!). But most importantly: all business parties involved in an agreement are invited to toast the agreement publicly with a glass of champagne.! At the end of the event, the organisers report back to the participants on which agreements have been concluded. Both the 2007 and 2010 Stuttgart Market Places then ended with a buffet, to allow for further discussions in a pleasant atmosphere.

About this case study
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Reinhold Halder, head of community engagement, City of Stuttgart


Agentur Mehrwert


Reinhold Halder, Head of Community Engagement of Stuttgart Council, provided Governance International with this case study on
1 February 2011.

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