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NIG Scientific Mission and Research Programme 2012-2017

The mission of the Netherlands interuniversity research school NIG is to stimulate, facilitate, and assist the further scientific development of the administrative and political sciences in the Netherlands so that it meets up with the highest international quality standards in our fields of science. In order to achieve this mission NIG has the following objectives:

  • Make a major contribution to the training of young researchers in its field, both by providing a high- quality two-year training programmes for all Ph.D. students from all over the Netherlands (and Flanders), and by co-operation with and support of member institutions who provide such training;
  • Provide its members with a ready-made network, offering information plus organizational and financial support for targeted, high quality research activities. It provides a strategic forum for the academic community to discuss key issues such as curricula, professional standards and research quality;
  • Represent the disciplines of political science and public administration at national (Dutch) and international levels. In these contexts it seeks to promote both the quantity and the quality of research undertaken. It also seeks to make the wider world more aware of the achievements of the Dutch research community, as well as its social value and relevance.


Providing a curricular training programme for Ph.D. students is relatively new in the Netherlands. Of old Dutch universities did not follow the Anglo-Saxon graduate school tradition where Ph.D. is a next phase of continuous education, but the continental European ‘Von Humboldt’ tradition, where writing a dissertation is an individual research project between an individual researcher and his or her professor, with hardly any training.

In the 1980s the junior staff-position of an ‘assistant-in-training’ (AIO), who is to finish a Ph.D. in four years, was introduced at Dutch universities, primarily in order to avoid the threat that, due to severe retrenchments and ageing problems at Dutch universities at the time, all junior temporary personnel would vanish from academia. A whole new generation of upcoming young researchers threatened to be lost. Therefore this temporary junior staff-position was created to ensure that enough dissertation research was done to create a new generation. At the time of the introduction of this AIO position educational training for Ph.D.’s hardly existed.

In the early 1990s the institute of ‘research schools’ was introduced at Dutch universities, a ‘centre of excellence’ in a particular field of science, which amongst others should provide AIO’s with a proper educational training for doing a Ph.D.. In the Dutch administrative sciences that led to the establishment of the Netherlands School of Public Administration, later joined by the political sciences, resulting in the NIG. Since the early 1990s individual dissertation researchers were for the first time ever provided with a proper curricular training to prepare them for successfully finishing a Ph.D..

The Bologna treaty of 1999 brought European universities a further step towards the Anglo-Saxon university tradition by introducing the two-stage Bachelor-Master system and the third stage of Ph.D. education. Universities in all EU-member states are legally prescribed to offer a proper Ph.D. training programme to their Ph.D. students. Notice though that, although most European universities have now, ten years after Bologna, wholly or partly introduced the Bachelor-Master system, that holds not true for Ph.D. training. Various European countries (e.g. Austria, France, Germany and Spain) still have a traditional ‘Humboldtian’ pattern of individual Ph.D. research without curricular training. Other countries (e.g. Italy and Switzerland) have governments investing in Ph.D. training via curricula and scholarships. The Nordic countries and the Netherlands had already prior to the Bologna treaty established Ph.D. educational programmes with national networks (POLFORSK in Denmark and NIG in the Netherlands). In most European countries individual university departments have to provide for educational training of a small number of Ph.D. students. Economies of scale and cost-effectiveness of Ph.D.-training in administrative and political science by establishing national interuniversity cooperative networks, does only exist in the Danish interuniversity political science research school POLFORSK with eight participating universities and institutes (with which NIG has an exchange programme and shares a common course), and the Netherlands interuniversity graduate school NIG, which is a cooperation between nine Dutch universities that offer administrative and political science degrees.

NIG is providing not only a highly cost-effective, but also a high-academic-quality training programme for all Ph.D. students in administrative and political science in the Netherlands. Not only are latest state of the art methodology courses offered at NIG, the Ph.D. students are also provided

with master classes in the latest state of the art in administrative and political science by internationally renowned scholars in the field. Ample information on the NIG courses is provided in the self-evaluation report and re-accreditation proposal to the KNAW.

Research Programme

NIG was founded as an interuniversity cooperation and has developed into cooperation between all Dutch universities that offer degrees in administrative and political science (meanwhile including two Flemish universities). Unlike other Dutch research schools in the social sciences (e.g. ICS in sociology and Tinbergen institute in economics), which have become centres of excellence in particular subfields of their field of science, NIG from the beginning has functioned as a sort of umbrella for the entire scientific research spectrum carried out in all nine participating universities. Unlike the afore-mentioned other Dutch research schools, which themselves employ the Ph.D. students, NIG does not. The participating Ph.D. students are employed by their respective universities, and research projects and programmes are carried out within the respective universities, so that NIG is not in a position to directly steer scientific developments. NIG stimulates, facilitates, and assists the further scientific development of administrative and political science in the Netherlands in more indirect ways such as by subsidising research colloquiums and organising a conference annually. Another indirect way to stimulate the further scientific development of our fields is the NIG research programme.

The aim of the NIG research programme is that Dutch research in administrative and political sciences meets up with the highest international standards in our fields of science. Notice though that Dutch administrative research has a high practical relevance and societal impact. Of old administrative sciences in the Netherlands have had a strong relationship with administrative practice. The origin of Dutch administrative sciences lies in the post-war development of the welfare state. In the early decades of Dutch administrative sciences the relation between the science and practice of administration was strong, and compared to other countries that bond is still relatively strong. Unlike natural sciences, the objective of administrative sciences is not only to analyse and explain, but also to develop recommendations for improvement of the actual functioning of government and administration. Prescription and herewith practical relevance, is an explicit aim of our field of science. The past couple of decades Dutch administrative sciences have undergone a rapid internationalisation, opened up to and developed close relationships with the international scientific community. In the Netherlands other institutes like the professional association VB and the executive training school NSOB have come to represent the professional and practical relevance of administrative sciences. In that sort of task division of interest representation NIG has come to stand more explicitly for the international scientific quality of Dutch administrative sciences. At Dutch universities scientific quality is increasingly measured in terms of international publications and citations. Whatever one thinks of such one-dimensional quality assessment, the future generation of administrative scholars, that is, the current generation of Ph.D. students, necessarily has to learn this international art and craft. NIG is training them to do so.

The NIG research programme has for the past periods of accreditation been centred around the main theme ‘governance’. In the period 2001-2005 the main theme was ‘from government to governance’ reflecting the main trend in the international administrative sciences at the time. Sub themes were

‘European Union’, ‘representation and legitimacy’, ‘institutionalism’, ‘public management’ and ‘knowledge society’. In the period 2006-2011 the main theme was reformulated into ‘governance, citizens and the state’ with three sub themes ‘citizens and governance’ (including EU, e-governance, representation and legitimacy), ‘future of nation state’ (including EU, multi-level governance and institutions) and ‘public management in joined-up world’ (reflecting new trends in public management). The continuity in the NIG research themes is remarkably and understandably high. Some research sub themes disappeared from the main themes due to staff reductions of the respective research groups. The well-known political science approach of ‘institutionalism’ stopped from being explicitly mentioned as a main theme, but still is a common denominator to many research projects and programmes.

A survey of the actual research activities at the participating administrative and political science departments, the NIG research colloquiums and the research panels at the annual NIG- conferences, reveals that there are in fact four main research themes that receive substantial and common attention:

  • Multi-level governance and Europe
  • Multi-actor governance in complexity
  • Political institutions and democracy
  • Public Management

The NIG research programme for the period 2012-2017 will concentrate on these four main themes of research. These are already existing high-quality common core-activities in Dutch administrative and political science, and have great potentials for the future that deserve being further stimulated, facilitated and assisted by NIG.

A brief (and certainly non-exhaustive) list of possible research subjects covered by the four main themes is provided below. Moreover a few key-publications by (some and certainly not all relevant) NIG-members are mentioned thus providing some indication of past performance on these research themes.

Theme 1. Multi-level governance and Europe

Governance, particularly multi-level governance in the European Union, including research themes like accountability and transparency (Amsterdam, Antwerp, Maastricht, Rotterdam, Tilburg, Twente, Utrecht). It goes without saying that this theme plays a key-role in the international political sciences. The degree of internationalisation of Dutch political scientists is remarkably high.

  • Policy formulation and implementation in multi-level governance
  • The evolution of EU institutions and of international bodies like the UN, World bank and OECD
  • EU institutions and the impact on EU citizenship
  • Europe and the citizens, transparency accountability and representation
  • Relations between supra-national, national, regional and local government
  • Changing role of political institutions (parties, groups, movements) in multi-level governance

Key publications (2006-2010)

  • Blom, T.(ed): Reviewing Europe, Maastricht University Press, 2007.
  • Erk, J.: Explaining Federalism: State Society and Congruence in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany and Switzerland, London, Routledge, 2007.
  • Hooghe, E.A.E.B., and G.W. Marks: European Union, West European Politics, 31 (2008), 107-129. Steunenberg, B.: A policy solution to the European Union’s transposition puzzle, West European Politics, 30 (2007), 23-49.
  • Thomassen, J.J.A (ed): The Legitimacy of the European Union after Enlargement, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009.

Theme 2. Multi-actor governance in complexity

Governance, particularly multi-actor governance in complex networks, the other strand of the broad concept of ‘governance’ that has been and still is a main trend in international administrative sciences, and is a theme where Dutch administrative scientists have built an international reputation (Delft, Rotterdam).

  • Multi-actor governance in complex interorganisational networks
  • Governance in complexity, chaos and order
  • Accountability and transparency in complex networks
  • Democratic control and complex networks
  • Public-private partnerships
  • Management of networks, chains and alliances

Key publications (2006-2010)

  • Bruijn, J.A. de and E.F. ten Heuvelhof: Management in Networks, New York, Routledge, 2008. Edelenbos, J. and E.H. Klijn: Project versus process management in public-private partnership, International Public Management Journal, 12 (2009) 3, 310-331.
  • Huberts, L.W.J.C., J. Maesschalck and C.J. Jurkiewicz: Ethics and Integrity of Governance, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, 2008.
  • Michels, A.M.B. and A.J. Meijer: Safeguarding public accountability in horizontal government, Public Management Review, 10 (2008) 2, 165-173.
  • Teisman, G. and E.H. Klijn: Complexity theory and public administration, Public Management Review,10 (2008) 3, 287-297.
  • Teisman, G., M.W. van Buuren and L. Gerrits (eds): Managing Complex Governance Systems, London, Routledge, 2009.

Theme 3. Political institutions and democracy

Political institutions and democracy, including research themes like representation, legitimacy, integrity and safety, all subjects that belong to the core business of the international political sciences and are studied in all participating political science departments (Amsterdam, Leiden, Nijmegen, Twente).

  • Changing role of political parties
  • The end of consensual democracy and beyond
  • Changing political institutions and democracy
  • Shift from representativeness to accountability
  • Political participation and representative government
  • ICT and government and administration

Key publications (2006-2010)

  • Aarts, C.W.A.M., and H. van der Kolk: Parliamentary Elections in The Netherlands, Electoral Studies, 26 (2007), 832-837.
  • Andeweg, R.B. and G.A. Irwin: Governance and Politics in The Netherlands, New York, Palgrave, 2009.
  • Boin, R.A. and T. Christensen: The Development of Public Institutions: Reconsidering the role of leadership, Administration and Society, 40 (2008) 3, 271-297.
  • Bovens, M.A.P., P. ’t Hart and T. Schillemans: Does accountability work, Public Administration, 86 (2008) 1, 225-242.
  • Hendriks, F.: Vital Democracy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Kersbergen, C.J. van: The christian-democratic phoenix and modern unsecular politics, Party Politics, 14 (2008) 3, 259-280.
  • Rutgers, M.R.: The purpose of the state, Administrative Theory and Praxis, 30 (2008) 3, 349-354.

Theme 4. Public management

Public management, including national and international comparative public sector reform (Leiden, Leuven, Nijmegen, Rotterdam, Tilburg, Utrecht). This is also a research theme where Dutch administrative scholars have built an international reputation. Moreover the current financial-economic and fiscal crisis probably implies a revival of public management reform.

  • Evaluation of impacts of public management reform
  • Public management in professional organisations
  • Agencification and joined-up government
  • Devolution of administration and inspection and control
  • International comparative analysis of state and administrative reform

Key publications (2006-2010)

  • Bruijn, J.A. de: Performance, performance, everywhere. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 75 (2009) 1, pp. 206-211.
  • Hart, P. ‘t, M. Noordegraaf and R.A.W. Rhodes (eds): Observing Governmental Elites, London, Palgrave, 2007.
  • Kickert, W.J.M. (ed): The Study of Public Management in Europe and the US, London, Routledge, 2008.
  • Noordegraaf, M., From Pure to Hybrid Professionalism, Administration and Society, 39 (2007) 6, 761-785.
  • Pollitt, C., S. van Thiel and V. Homburg (eds): New Public Management in Europe, London, Palgrave, 2007.
  • Tummers, L.G., V.J.J.M. Bekkers and A.J. Steijn: Policy alienation of public professionals: Application in a New Public Management Context. Public Management Review, 11 (2009) 5, 685-706.