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NIG Annual Work Conference 2022

Our 2022 annual conference was hosted by Tilburg University. The conference took place on October 13 and 14.

Program 2022

You can find the definitive conference program of 2022 here

Plenary sessions

PhD Breakfast Session

During the NIG conference, the PhD Council hosted a PhD conference breakfast. We invited all NIG PhDs for breakfast: to have a chat, get to know the PhD Council and each other and feed us with their expertise and suggestions.

Thursday 13 October 09.00 – 10.00.

Vereniging voor Bestuurskunde VB-NIG Dialogue: The drama of democracy: rethinking the rule of law in public governance

In this plenary session, organized by the Vereniging voor Bestuurskunde (VB) and the Netherlands Institute of Governance (NIG), we engaged in a dialogue about the challenges, and, indeed, dangers of our time for democracy. We examined how to deal with those challenges, circumvent those dangers, or perhaps even harness them for something positive through rethinking the rule of law in public governance.
More information on the VB-NIG dialogue.

Thursday 13 October 13.15 – 14.45.

State of PhDs in Public Administration and Political Science

The Netherlands Institute of Governance has made an inventory of the state of PhDs in public administration and political science which was presented during the conference. 189 recent PhD-theses from 13 Dutch and Flemish universities have been coded and analyzed, aiming to grasp common standards, but also diversity and unique characteristics, of theses. With this, we sketch a clear picture of emergent standards in PhD-writing. Additionally, focus-groups have been held with (former) PhD-candidates, revolving around crucial issues such as supervision, stress and the proverbial second reviewer, but also about accomplishments and pride.
More information on the State of PhDs presentation.

Friday 14 October 13.00 – 14.30.

Award ceremony Supervisor of the Year & Van Poeljeprijs

During this festive ceremony, the PhD Supervisor of the Year Award is rewarded for the elected best supervisor, and the Van Poeljeprijs for the best disseration of the past year. Read more about the winner of the Van Poeljeprize here. 

Friday 14 October 14.30 – 15.30


Description of our 2022 panels




Public employees are crucial in public service performance (Leisink et al., 2021). After all, good teachers are crucial to the provision of high-quality education, professional health care workers are essential for high quality health care and police officers are necessary for safe streets. As such, managing and leading employees has been considered one of the most important aspects of the management of public organizations (O’Toole & Meier, 2009). However, within public management research, the emphasis has for a long time been more on external management, whereas less attention has been paid to the management of human capital (Favero et al., 2016; Leisink et al., 2021; Meier et al., 2014).

Both management and leadership scholars are interested in the question of how to manage and influence employees (Leroy et al., 2018). For a long time, the distinction between management and leadership has been highlighted. It has been argued that whereas management takes a more functional approach to managing employees, leadership tends to take a more ideological approach (Leroy et al., 2018). Moreover, the notion that “managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right things” (Bennis & Nannus, 1985, p. 21) has been a popular way to describe the difference between management and leadership. However, the dichotomy between these two types of behavior has been increasingly up for debate (Fernandez et al., 2010; Tummers & Knies, 2016). For instance, scholars warn for the risk that by taking a too idealistic perspective on leadership, it places leadership on a higher value than management (Leroy et al., 2018). Moreover, it has been argued that the distinction between leadership and management in practice often becomes blurred (Fernandez et al., 2010).

In line with previous scholars (Knies et al., 2020; Leroy et al., 2018), we argue that in order to increase our understanding of the management of employees in public organizations, both public management and leadership should be integrated to learn from each other. Therefore, our proposed panel welcomes research on both public management and public leadership directed towards managing and influencing employees in public organizations.

For a long time, public management scholars have predominantly focused on senior managers. However, line managers play a crucial role in managing employees and therefore it is important to include line managers when interested in managing employees in public organizations (Boselie et al., 2019; Penning de Vries & Vermeeren, 2021). Moreover, as a result of processes of HR devolution and decentralization, line managers are gaining more and more responsibility for managing employees in public organizations (Brewster et al., 2015; Podger, 2017; Tessema et al., 2009). As such, the scholarly interest in line managers has increased over the years, and indicated that line managers have an influence on mission achievement (Knies et al., 2018), attitudes towards clients (Keulemans & Groeneveld, 2019), inclusive climate (Ashikali, Groeneveld & Kuipers, 2020), team performance (Penning de Vries, 2021) and organizational performance (Brewer, 2005; Vermeeren et al., 2014). Even though the interest in line managers has increased in public management research, there is still a lacuna on studies that focus particularly on management and leadership by line managers in public organizations. Therefore, our proposed panel welcomes papers interested in management and leadership by line managers in public organizations.

Societal challenges

Even though we welcome papers from a broad range of topics with regards to managing and leading public employees, we particularly welcome papers that respond to societal challenges affecting the management and leadership of employees in public organizations. Below, we outline two examples of these challenges.

Societal diversity will continue to grow due to globalisation and migration of large populations. As a result, public managers and employees need to be able to respond to complex issues and diverse stakeholders, both internal and external to the organization. To improve public service delivery, public organizations increasingly aim to develop an inclusive work environment (Andrews & Ashworth, 2015). In such an environment, diverse talents of employees are recognized, valued, and used to inform work practices (Brewer, 1991; Shore et al., 2011). Previous research shows that fostering inclusivity in organizations is complex, and dependent on multiple factors of which leadership is an important one (Shore, Cleveland & Sanchez 2018). Leadership is needed to address social processes to foster an inclusive work environment in which all organizational members are involved, can be their authentic selves, and reach their full potential (Ashikali et al., 2021; Randel, 2018). However, there is still limited research and theory on leadership approaches that address employee experiences of work group inclusion (Nishii & Mayer, 2009; Shore et al., 2018). The panel welcomes papers that address how management and leadership within teams and organizations contributes to valuing diversity and fostering inclusivity in turn affecting team processes and outcomes.

Due to COVID-19 an already existing trend in organizations has been reinforced: the transition to virtual ways of working (Gartner, 2020; Kniffin et al., 2020). This brings about several challenges for employees, such as dealing with new technology and working remotely from colleagues and customers. In addition, the home environment itself creates additional challenges, such as interruptions by partners and children while working at home, an ergonomically suboptimal workplace, and a blurring of boundaries between work time and private time. The above are expected to have important consequences for the well-being of employees (Fischer et al., 2022). Consequences for employees may include a loss of social contacts, feelings of loneliness, stress, burnout, and depression. This raises questions such as: What are the implications of the digitalization of work for the management and leadership by line managers in public organizations to maintain employee wellbeing? And how can line managers strengthen the positive aspects and reduce the negative aspects of working from home for employee wellbeing? How can (line) managers thereby ensure the resilience of their organization?


We welcome a variety of submissions, ranging from theoretical/conceptual papers, empirical studies, research proposals (for instance PhD proposals or research designs). As mentioned in the previous section, we welcome submission from a broad range of topics with regards to leading and managing employees in public organizations. We particularly welcome topics that connect management and leadership with societal challenges that public organizations are faced with this day and age.




Trust is a key concept in contemporary democracies. It pertains to a relationship between citizens and their representatives, but also to a number of other relationships important for democratic governance: between people, organizations and governmental agencies. It is crucial to differentiate between these different types of trust (or distrust), consider their respective determinants and dynamics, and reflect on the role they play in democratic societies. Only then we are able to meaningfully engage in the debate on the extent to which we are experiencing now “a crisis of democracy” – the legitimacy crisis of democratic governance.

Meanwhile, contemporary governments are rarely monoliths. They usually comprise of a multitude of political and administrative institutions and actors spread across different layers of a multilevel governance system (Bache and Flinders, 2004; Di Gregorio et al., 2019; Torfing and Sørensen, 2014). In such multi-level governance systems, the design and implementation of public policies is a matter of cooperation and coordination between different political, administrative and judicial actors at different levels and with private actors such as interest groups, individual private organizations and citizens. These public policy processes happen through the formal institutions of representative democracy, but also via all kinds of deliberative democracy and public-private networks and co- production. In this panel, we explore the role of trust in the effectiveness and legitimacy of such multilevel governance systems. On the one hand, trust is thought to be the glue that holds society together: the backbone of a cooperative behavior, a necessary precondition for decisions including elements of risk. On the other hand, little is known about the mechanisms of trust in a mutlilevel governance context, i.e. the implications of one trust relationship for another relationship, within another level or even ranging across multiple levels (Muñoz, 2017). In multilevel governance, institutions and actors do not operate in a vacuum; they are interlinked with each other while embedded in one encompassing political and administrative environment. Against this backdrop, it is relevant to investigate the dynamics between different types of trust: social trust, political trust, administrational trust, inter-organizational and inter-institutional trust. For example, does citizens’ trust in one level of government relate to their trust in other levels of government, in other words, to what extent do citizens distinguish in their trust between institutions at local, regional, national and European levels of governance? How do citizens’ trust in government on the one hand and government’s trust in citizens on the other hand interact and to what extent do they have the same implications for the legitimacy and effectiveness of the multilevel governance? Does social trust affect trust between organizations? To what extent does distrust in one actor undermine trust in another actor, which can be situated at another level? How do these trust and distrust relations affect the cooperation and interaction between the actors in such multi-level governance systems (being political, administrative, judicial actors as well as interest groups and citizens), and in turn how do they influence the effectiveness and legitimacy of public policies and of the system as such? These are just some examples of timely topics to explore theoretically and empirically within the multilevel governance context that would shed more light on the dynamics, extent and limitations of trust as a “glue for society” in contemporary democratic systems.


We invite papers focusing on trust, accountability and legitimacy (perceptions), ideally concerning more than one tier of the multilevel governance system, i.e. local, regional, national and/or EU levels of governance. We also welcome papers on how different kinds of trust interact and how they affect the cooperation and interaction between actors in such multi-level governance systems (being political, administrative, judicial actors as well as interest groups and citizens), as well as the effectiveness and legitimacy of public policies and of the system as such. We would also like to invite researchers who would typically study citizens, organizations and/or institutions at one particular tier of governance to reflect on the implications of their findings for effectiveness and legitimacy of a larger MLG system. This panel is a common platform for researchers of local, national, regional and EU political and administrative arenas to share their findings, discuss overlaps and/or differences. We welcome conceptual, theoretical and empirical contributions employing quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods. Papers in English are strongly preferred. Presented papers may be considered for a special issue of an international journal

Examples of topics to be covered:

  1. Citizens’ trust in institutions at local, regional, national and/or EU level of governance
  2. Trust in and between political, administrative and/or judicial actors (at different levels of government) and/or with interest groups, private actors and citizens who are involved in public policy processes
  3. Trust and legitimacy in crisis times (e.g. COVID 19) versus trust in non-crisis times
  4. Trust related to formal institutions of representative democracy, but also to forms of deliberative democracy, and all kinds of public-private networks and co- production
  5. Dynamics between different types of trust: social trust, political trust, administrational trust, inter-organizational and inter-institutional
  6. The relationship between trust, accountability, effectiveness and legitimacy in multi-level systems
  7. Organizational reputation as basis for trust in and between political and/or administrative actors
  8. Democratic legitimacy and accountability at local, regional, national, EU level


  • Ingmar van Meerkerk, Department of Public Administration and Sociology, Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Email:
  • Merlijn van Hulst, Department of Public Law & Governance, Tilburg University, the Netherlands. Email:
  • Stefan Verweij, Department of Spatial Planning and Environment, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Email:
  • Jurian Edelenbos, Department of Public Administration and Sociology, Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands, email:



Collaborative forms of governance are on the rise and receive increasing attention both in research and practice (Ansell and Gash, 2008; Emerson et al, 2012; Klijn and Koppenjan, 2016). Collaborative governance entail different forms, including public- private partnerships (Hodge and Greve, 2007; Verweij et al., 2022), intergovernmental cooperation (Fuglister, 2012), triple and quadruple helix cooperation (Leydesdorff, & Etzkowitz, 1996), and interactive governance and community engagement (Torfing et al., 2012; Edelenbos and Van Meerkerk, 2016; Blijleven & van Hulst, 2021). What all these forms have in common is the challenge of coordinating, cooperating and/or, collaborating across boundaries between public, private, knowledge, and/or societal actors.

Working across boundaries has always been part of organization, management, and governance. However, due to a changing role of governments and the changing context of governing, it has become far more important (Klijn and Koppenjan, 2016; Torfing et al. 2012; O’Flynn et al., 2014). The compounded nature of wicked societal issues forces public, private, and societal actors to collaborate across the boundaries of organizations, domains, and sectors in order to find durable, efficient, and effective solutions to complex problems. Moreover, increasing calls for engaging citizens in the design and production of public services have further stimulated cross-boundary working in public governance (Van Meerkerk and Edelenbos, 2018). At the same time, public organizations and institutions are still for an important part shaped by the institutional logics of Traditional Public Administration and New Public Management, which can cause barriers and tensions in developing cross-boundary collaboration (Nederhand et al., 2018). Public professionals engaged in spanning boundaries therefore often have to cope with conflicting demands, practices, and expectations while trying to develop and facilitate cross-boundary collaboration or engagement (Blijleven and Van Hulst, 2021).

This panel focuses on the challenges, conditions, and impact of spanning boundaries between public, private, knowledge, and/or societal actors and domains. Because of the increasing presence of collaborative forms of governance, the role and practices of people engaged in spanning boundaries are also becoming more important. In the literature, public professionals competent in spanning boundaries are known under various terms including boundary spanners, bridgers, facilitators, intermediaries, best persons, navigators, exemplary practitioners, and everyday fixers (Hendriks and Tops, 2005; Van Hulst et al., 2011; Boonstra, 2015; Durose et al., 2016; Van Meerkerk and Edelenbos, 2018; Escobar, 2019). In addition, these professionals have different organizational or institutional backgrounds and affiliations. They include (network) managers, frontline workers, and community leaders.

This panel aims to bring together research on spanning boundaries in its various forms. It has a particular focus on the role and practices of professionals engaged in these endeavors, digging deeper into their challenges, barriers, coping mechanism, facilitating conditions in spanning boundaries, and impact of their behavior. Leading questions of potential contributions to this panel could be oriented at:

  1. What are key challenges and tensions in boundary spanning and collaborative practices and how do different professionals deal with these challenges and tensions?
  2. What kind of individual and team competences and characteristics are important for effectively spanning boundaries and collaborating, and coping with boundary spanning and collaborative challenges?
  3. What are organizational and contextual factors and barriers influencing the effectiveness of boundary spanning and collaborative activities?
  4. What is the impact of various kinds of boundary spanning practices on collaboration in and performance of public projects, policies, or programs?
  5. What are the elements of effective boundary spanning and collaborative practices in particular working environments?



Contributions may be in the form of research papers or research designs. The topic of the contribution should be related to the panel theme and may go deeper into one of the questions mentioned above, but may also touch upon other aspects of crossing/spanning boundaries in collaborative and interactive forms of governance.




From the perspective of the Netherlands and its European partners, the world seems to have turned upside down. Russia’s invasion into Ukraine has compounded what previous challenges – whether global warming, financial crises, recessions, pandemics, populism, or terrorism – already suggested: global politics and the international political order are undergoing rapid change. Concurrently, the speed and scope of these crises combines with their complex interconnection as well as their potentially long-term consequences for the security and well-being of societies worldwide.

Attempts to update existing analytical toolkits in response have enveloped a wide diversity of paradigms, perspectives, and policy prescriptions: from a renewed focus on great power competition, to innovative lenses on ontological security, psychology and emotion in foreign and security policy, the complexity of interconnected crises, or technological change. Increasingly, scholars have (re)turned to interdisciplinary work on the intersections of political science with psychology, law, sociology, economics, history as well as the natural sciences to understand the implications of overlapping and interconnected challenges for global, societal and human security, as well as for the formulation of security policy. At the same time, this diversification has also produced charges of degeneration, inconsistency, and lack of relevance in addressing and overcoming the aforementioned challenges.

Against this background of theoretical and empirical contestation in times of change, we invite contributions which engage the implications for international, European and/or Dutch security, broadly understood, of overlapping global and regional challenges (such as terrorism, populism, digitization/cyber, global warming, and war). How do we understand contemporary security challenges, and how should we address them? What can the diverse and approaches and concepts of International Relations offer in explaining interacting and overlapping crises? What type of theory emerges? Where can we expect theoretical, analytical, and/or policy innovation, and to what end?



We welcome submissions from all subfields of international relations, security studies and foreign policy analysis, across different levels of analysis and critique, including explicitly interdisciplinary approaches. In particular, we are interested in submissions that investigate the following themes:

  1. historical comparisons and case studies that illuminate the realm of current and possible future responses to overlapping security challenges, complexity, and crises;
  2. theorizations and conceptual innovation in the analytical realm of (responses to) crisis, change, temporality, complexity, adaptation, innovation, with a focus on global, regional, societal or human security; including through: (a) throwing new light at existing approaches, (b) developing new types of frameworks, avenues and methods of analysis and prescription, and/or (c) explicitly engaging across and between disciplines;
  3. analysis, critique and/or prescription of/for European/EU and/or Dutch policies, whether past or present, in dealing with contemporary security challenges.




The behavioural public administration stream aims to integrate psychological research within the study of public administration (Grimmelikhuijsen et al. 2017). Theoretically, public administration scholars have started to borrow and extend theories from the field of psychology and micro-economics. This panel focuses on the use of psychological insights within the field of public administration. This includes the attitudes and judgments of citizens, elected and non-elected public sector workers, including the influence on their decision-making and behaviours.

Examples are the identification of the influence of heuristics in citizens and public sector workers decision making (DellaVigna and Linos 2020). Citizens can for instance be ‘nudged’ to increase vaccination rates (Milkman et al. 2021) or public sector workers can be biased when interpreting performance information (Baekgaard et al. 2019).

Methodologically, public administration scholars have recognized the potential of experiments as an advancement of the methodological tool-kit of public administration (Bouwman & Grimmelikhuijsen, 2016; James, Jilke, & Ryzin 2017; Margetts, 2011). Most importantly, experimental research enables systematic research of causes and effects. This panel welcomes papers which use such designs. Yet, we are also open to other methodological approaches such as survey and interview to increase understanding of the relationship between psychology and public administration. We also welcome innovative methods such as diary studies and machine learning.

Currently, the behavioural public administration field is maturing into a field with different subtopics such as administrative burden and the inclusion of micro insights with meso and macro phenomena (Christensen et al. 2020; Roberts 2020). We welcome papers dealing with such topics as well.

The central question we pose is:

How can we understand the attitudes and behavior of individual citizens, civil servants, and elected officials in the public domain?



We invite two types of submissions: regular full papers and research design papers.

The latter are shorter papers that only consist of introduction, theory and methods. This way researchers are encouraged to receive feedback early in the research process, at a time where changes in the design are still possible and useful.

In this panel, we welcome:

  1. Papers from national and international scholars;
  2. Papers that employ psychological theory to study the behavior of individuals; citizens, elected and non-elected public sector workers;
  3. Papers that use sophisticated methods using the experimental logic of enquiry and other techniques of measurement or reflect on this;
  4. Papers that focus on the discrepancy between (self) reported and actual behavior within the realm of public sector organizations;
  5. Papers that explore meso and macro-level public administration theories with micro-level (individual) data;
  6. Papers that investigate the effects of choice architecture, organizational structure and practices on behavior in the public sector


In terms of topics, we – for instance- welcome papers that focus on:

  1. Citizen-state interactions;
  2. Administrative burdens
  3. Judgment and decision-making in public organizations;
  4. Citizen satisfaction and trust in government;
  5. The interpretation of performance information by citizens/public managers/politicians;
  6. The effects of administrative reforms on citizens/public employees;
  7. The use of behavioral science by and on public officials (for instance through nudges);
  8. Psychology of and pressures on public employees


  • Dr. Wieke Pot. Public Administration and Policy Group Wageningen University, the Netherlands
  • Dr. Jorren Scherpenisse. Utrecht University and NSOB, the Netherlands
  • Prof. dr. Paul ’t Hart. Utrecht University, the Netherlands



We live in highly turbulent times. Grand sustainability challenges like the energy transition, climate change adaptation (e.g. in response to accelerated sea level rise and more frequent and intense extreme weather events), and the circular economy require governments to think ahead and develop policies and other steering devices that make sure that cities, regions, countries can remain livable for a long period of time (Ferraro, Etzion, & Gehman, 2015). But democratically-elected governments do not always have the mandate or resources to make decisions that impact subsequent choices for a long period of time or to make transformative decisions, that change the way in which citizens can or need to behave. Furthermore, the world is faced with very diverse and continues crises situations. For example, European policymakers have to contend with the Ukraine-Russia war, accelerating climate change, energy supply and price challenges, and the ongoing COVID- 19 pandemic at the same time. Crises are also becoming more and more interconnected (Head, 2022), as short-term acute crises co-occur with and/or present themselves as indicators of much bigger, yet slow-burning and politically under-acknowledged creeping crises (Boin, Ekengren, & Rhinard, 2020). 

Turbulence refers to the co-occurrence of numerous unexpected, inconsistent, unpredictable, and deeply uncertain events (Ansell, Sørensen, & Torfing, 2020). Turbulence may well have become an enduring characteristic of the environment in which political institutions, policymakers, and public sector organizations will need to operate and maintain key system functions (Ansell & Trondal, 2018).

Grand challenges as well as short-term and longer term shocks challenge the political robustness of governments: their ability to uphold public agendas, perform their vital functions, and allocate public value despite being confronted with a smattering of turbulent circumstances (Howlett, Capano, & Ramesh, 2018; Sørensen & Ansell, 2021).

Meanwhile, scientific knowledge on climate change is convincing and alarming (IPCC, 2022) and most governments are struggling to meet the long-term objectives and goals they have committed themselves to such as the SDGs and the UNFCC treaties. How to reach such long-term objectives with present-day action is often controversial. There is a growing body of knowledge in the fields of robust governance, transition management, adaptive pathways, and strategic planning that tries to analyze but also design the institutions, capacities, conditions, mechanisms, strategies, and tactics that can contribute to more long- term thinking and more robust policy making.

In this panel, we aim to advance the academic thinking on robust and time-sensitive governance and to explore how this thinking can contribute to governmental policy and decision-making about grand challenges such as the energy transition, the circular economy, and climate change adaptation. Sub-objectives of this colloquium consist of:

  1. Further developing academic thinking and theory on: anticipatory governance, policy robustness, time-sensitive-governance, temporality, scenario thinking, policy myopia, and resilience
  2. To discuss applications of these concepts to empirical contexts of, amongst others, water management, climate change adaptation, energy transition, circularity
  3. To improve the design of policy making and decision-making processes and arrangements by developing and sharing concrete recommendations for



For this panel, we invite scholars to submit both theoretical and empirical papers that further develop the notions of robustness, resilience, adaptation, anticipation and time-sensitive governance within the discipline of public administration. We invite scholars especially to think about ‘what works’ and contributes to overcome policy myopia and accelerate policy action towards addressing creeping crises and sustainability challenges.

We are interested in contributions that address scientific questions such as:

  1. What are the conditions, mechanisms or strategies that enable robust policies or political robustness?
  2. To what extent does policy myopia exist and how can we countervail it?
  3. What (long-term designed) institutions enable more forward-looking policy and decision making?
  4. How do decision support methods and forecasting and backcasting activities contribute to governmental policy making?
  5. How can bottom up governance strategies contribute to more future-proof urban contexts?
  6. Under what conditions are governments able to align policies and investment decisions to facilitate regional/urban/local sustainability transitions?
  7. How do different temporal strategies enable policy actors to incorporate proactive thinking and acting?
  8. What are practices that enable actors to move beyond policy experimentation to scale-up and institutionalize novel solutions that contribute to more robust political sustems?
  9. How to balance between path dependency and flexibility to arrive at political robustness?
  10. What works in terms of establishing more adaptive policies and avoiding lock-ins?
  11. How can crisis management and anticipatory governance thinking strengthen each other to contribute to more resilient societies?


The panel invites scholars that work with theories on adaptive governance and social- ecological systems thinking, robust governance and policy design, evidence-based policy making (especially evidence that consists of scenarios, visions, methods for dealing with deep uncertainty), crisis management, transition management, long-term governance, and strategic planning.


  • Margot Kersing, PhD Candidate at Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Erasmus University ( | coordinating chair)
  • Kim Loyens, Assistant Professor at School of Governance, Utrecht University (
  • Nadine Raaphorst, Assistant Professor at Institute of Public Administration, FGGA, Leiden University (
  • Gabriela Szydlowski, PhD Candidate at School of Governance, Utrecht University ( | coordinating chair)
  • Lieke Oldenhof, Associate Professor at Erasmus School of Health Policy and Management, Erasmus University (



Street-level professionals, such as social workers, police officers, inspectors, nurses, or teachers, often determine what, how and to whom public services are delivered while operating in uncertain and complex environments. They (must) make these decisions while facing limited resources, juxtaposing different (and often conflicting) values, and operating in complex and changing environments. These environments are increasingly inter-organizational and interdisciplinary in nature. They also encompass ongoing developments such as digitalization, citizen co-production, regulatory pressure, and responsive lawmaking that can put conflictual demands on street-level bureaucrats. This panel focuses on understanding the impact of those environments on decision- making of street-level professionals as well as the impact it has on how citizen-clients are evaluated and treated.

First and foremost, street-level professionals must determine how written policies are implemented in real-life situations. These written policies, however, often do not match the complex realities and needs of the citizen-clients whom street-level professionals face (Lipsky, 2010). Moreover, policies often involve terms deliberately left open or vague for street-level professionals to interpret (Linthorst & Oldenhof, 2020; Raaphorst, 2018). Theoretically, it is important to understand these interpretations because they could involve or lead to, among other things, value tradeoffs, certain attitudes or enforcement styles, and stereotypes in decision making (e.g., de Boer, 2019; Harrits, 2019; Keulemans & Van de Walle, 2020; Loyens & Maesschalk, 2010; Loyens & Paraciani, 2021; Oldenhof et al., 2014; Raaphorst et al., 2018; Zacka, 2017).

Moreover, in order to deal with societal challenges street-level professionals increasingly collaborate across organizational and professional borders (Noordegraaf, 2011). Instead of making decisions individually, street-level professionals operate in teams, deliberate with other professionals (Møller, 2020), and sometimes have joint decision-making responsibility (Rutz et al., 2015). Moreover, citizen-clients are not passive receivers of services, but are active actors who contribute to this process (Nielsen et al., 2021; Oldenhof & Linthorst, forthcoming 2022). Different types of street-level professionals are, indeed, perceived differently in terms of intention and ability by citizen-clients (de Boer, 2020) and this has consequences for service delivery. To illustrate, matching individual-level characteristics, such as gender, can increase efforts of both professionals and citizens (Guul, 2018). Therefore, it has become ever more important to understand how social dynamics and relations affect street-level decision making (Keulemans, 2020), from both the side of the professionals and the citizen-clients.

Lastly, the roles of street-level professionals as decision-makers have been prone to substantial change. Digitalization by means of algorithms and other automated systems have become a core part of how service provision is structured and how professionals and citizens interact (Dunleavy et al., 2006; Eubanks 2018). In turn, discretion has been partially moved from street-level professionals to those designing the automated systems (i.e., system-level bureaucrats). It is important to understand these changing roles of street-level professionals and its effects because it alters the way individual cases are handled (Bovens & Zouridis, 2002; Buffat, 2015). These changes can, ultimately, lead to street-level professionals altering their behavior towards citizen-clients or unfair treatment of some groups of citizen-clients (Eubanks, 2018). Street-level decision making, thus, has major implications for citizens, who may be discriminated against, differentially treated, or subjected to complex bureaucratic realities.

Ultimately, this panel aims to answer the following questions:

  1. What decisions do street-level bureaucrats make and what behaviors and routines do they develop in complex contexts?
  2. How do individual, interactional, organizational, and environmental characteristics impact street- level bureaucrats’ working conditions, decisions and behavior including their evaluation and treatment of citizen-clients?
  3. To whom do street-level bureaucrats direct their attention and grant access to public resources?



This panel invites empirical and theoretical papers on topics such as (but not limited to):

  1. The micro context of decision-making. Examples include: the influence of stereotypes, social dynamics, the role of values and value conflicts, and citizens’ experiences with public encounters;
  2. Meso and macro level influences on street-level decision Examples include: digitalization and the use of algorithms, policy developments stressing street-level judgment, responsive lawmaking, interprofessional or -organizational collaboration.


Empirical papers can be based on qualitative and/or quantitative data, involving, for instance, experiments, (comparative) case studies, or ethnographic work. The panel is, in addition, particularly interested in theory driven contributions that focus on developing or testing (parts of) theories, and papers focused on developing or discussing concepts. These papers can be full manuscripts but also research designs or anything in between.


  • Toon Kerkhoff (UL), Institute of Public Administration, Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, Turfmarkt 99, 2511 DP The Hague. E:
  • Andrei Poama (UL), Institute of Public Administration, Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, Turfmarkt 99, 2511 DP The Hague. E:
  • Hester Paanakker (RU), Nijmegen School of Management, Department of Public Administration, Heyendaalseweg 141, Postbus 9108, 6500 HK Nijmegen. E:
  • Marjolijn Heerings (EUR), Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Burg. Oudlaan 50, Rotterdam. E:
  • Margot Kersing (EUR), Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Burg. Oudlaan 50, Rotterdam. E:



First, it aims to feature paper presentations that examine if the application of moral principles and public values differs methodologically (i.e., in how they are applied as a matter of ethical reasoning) or substantively (i.e., in what they require as a matter of administrative practice) according to whether they are applied at either of the three following levels of administrative practice: (1) decisions and actions undertaken by individual civil servants as holders of specific public offices; (2) the design, implementation and reform of specific governmental practices, as considered in the context of reasonable moral disagreement about the scope and content of the said practices; (3) the design and ordering of specific government institutions and organizations, as considered in the context of complex multi-governance networks. This first objective is thus concerned with exploring different modes of theorizing in administrative ethics, based on the subject-matter that is being theorized (individual action; public practices and policies; public institutions and organizations).

Second, the panel invites papers that engage in meta-theoretical analyses about the disciplinary and methodological commitments of administrative ethics as practiced today. Here, we are concerned with where different methods place administrative ethics in the landscape of contemporary ethical theorizing (e.g., descriptive ethics, normative ethics, meta-normative ethics, meta-ethics). Papers can also explicitly show or discuss how to move from descriptive empirical research to making normative ethical claims about the quality of governance. Papers can be discussions of methodology in a strict sense or be an example of ways in which the empirical study of public administration and politics leads to normative arguments and claims. A variety of methodological approaches can be shown or discussed, such as historical archival work, ethnographic research, experimental design, etc. This second objective is geared towards developing a working typology of different modes of and methods in contemporary administrative ethics.



We welcome papers on the three themes outlined below, as well as a variety of approaches. Papers can be mono-, or multi-disciplinary, more theoretically or empirically focused, quantitative and/or qualitative.

  1. Papers can address the ethics of individual judgment and decision-making within public Here, we are interested in how public officials and civil servants respond to morally hard choices, trade-offs and normative ranking problems. Relatedly, we are interested in assessing the weight that public officials and civil servants give or ought to give to distinctive moral norms in their reasoning, decisions, and actions, as compared to other, substantively distinct norms (e.g., political, social, economic, epistemic, technical). Papers can also address issues of (anti-)corruption and (lacking) integrity or can elaborate on complexities as a result of conflicting values.
  2. Papers can also address the ethics of public institutions and organizations that are part of or are closely connected to administrative practices and multi-level governance Here, we are interested in exploring the question of what a well-functioning institution is and what institutional mechanisms should be in place to protect and/or promote the integrity of (semi-)public institutions and their members. Relatedly, we are interested in how public moral values are impacted by hierarchical structures within such institutions and organizations (e.g., moral issues experienced at the level of street- or screen-level bureaucracy, as part of their co-production practices, as well as a result of their interactions with mid-level managers). Similarly, one can focus on problems or opportunities with regard to the management of integrity and anti-corruption.
  3. Papers can address the ethics of public policies within democratic polities. Here, we are interested in the principles that are relevant or otherwise informative when it comes to guiding the content and manner in which specific public policies and policy instruments are designed and implemented. Relatedly, we are interested in how the morality of national or regional policies might be impacted by cross-cultural factors (e.g., in the context of the EU).

If you are in doubt whether your idea fits, please do not hesitate to contact us ahead of the abstract deadline! The working language of the panel will be English, but papers can also be written and/or presented in Dutch.


  • Jolien Grandia. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences. Department of Public Administration and Sociology. The Netherlands.
  • Koen Migchelbrink. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences. Department of Public Administration and Sociology. The Netherlands.
  • Sandra van Thiel. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences. Department of Public Administration and Sociology. The Netherlands.
  • Bert George. Universiteit Gent. Vakgroep Bestuurskunde en Publiek Management. Belgium.



Public management stands at the center of the organization of the public sector. Research into the management of public organizations is in flux and constantly evolving. In this panel we discuss these developments in public management research and practice.

Traditionally, public management is divided into internal and external management. Internal management focuses on the internal structuring of public organizations, strategies, and instruments that contribute to the optimization of organizational performance (Ho et al., 2019; Van Thiel & Leeuw, 2002). External management focuses on the collaboration of public organizations with other stakeholders, such as private organizations, citizens and societal organizations, and the strategies and instruments to improve the collaboration (Ansell & Gash, 2008; Jurian Edelenbos & Van Meerkerk, 2016). With the emergence of New Public Governance and Public Value Governance, new ways of working, instruments and tools have been introduced and the internal and external management of public sector organizations need to be more attuned to each other (Bryson et al., 2014; Moore, 1995; O’Flynn, 2007).

Public sector organizations are in charge of policy making and implementation. Policies are aimed to ensure the security, safety, and well-being of citizens, for example in fields like education, immigration, animal welfare and climate change. Implementation then concerns the activities to carry out such policies and reach the desired objectives, often in collaboration with external stakeholders. Making sure that the implementation of one policy does not negatively impact the objectives of another policy requires a careful balancing of internal and external management. For example, government procurement of goods and services can also contribute to achieving sustainability goals (Grandia & Meehan, 2017) whereas HR strategies can enable organizations to become inclusive role models and reduce the distance of long-term employed citizens to the labor market. Moreover, public leadership can promote and co-create public value by engaging, inspiring and mobilizing actors with relevant governance assets (Sørensen et al., 2021). Or the other way round, governments can use citizen-state contacts during implementation to improve public policy and services decisions (Osborne, 2020).

Against this background, we invite contributions on public management, either internal or external, but most importantly on the connection between internal and external management. The panel is committed to theoretical and methodological pluralism, and we welcome contributions using diverse theoretical frameworks, analytical approaches, and research designs to further our understanding of the role and relationship between internal and external management in a public sector context. The panel invites both experienced and junior researchers to submit theory-based and methodologically sound contributions.



We invite authors to submit empirical and theoretical research manuscripts that discuss or link internal and external management in a public sector context. We also invite authors to submit manuscripts containing their research design (introduction, theory, and methodology) on one of these topics. Examples of topics are:

  1. Use of public procurement to diminish the negative consequences of production and consumption (sustainability), improve labor and safety standards throughout the international supply chain or enable long-term unemployed citizens to re-enter the
  2. Collaborative HRM strategies
  3. Disaggregation of public sector organizations and the creation of executive agencies
  4. Management of public service satisfaction and trust in government among citizens and other stakeholders
  5. The design and use of e-government and digital technologies in public organizations
  6. Strategies for collaborative governance, citizen participation and stakeholder




Governments on all levels increasingly use algorithms – a set of defined steps structured to process instructions/data to produce an output (Kitchin 2017) – for their services and their decisions, increasingly considering data-driven and learning-based techniques under the broad banner of Artificial Intelligence (AI). In past years, both promises and concerns of AI use are widely described in the literature. AI may serve public values by making governments more effective and efficient. However, AI may be a threat to public values as well, as they may prove imperfect or biased and its inherent inscrutability may hamper transparency and accountability of governments using AI.

The anticipated effects of AI use by governments are still high. Some authors argue that AI radically alters the nature of the public sector and leads to algorithmic governance, based on its transformative and disruptive character. Nevertheless, the impact of AI can also be heavily constrained by institutional structures in place leading research increasingly to the assumption that its transformative and disruptive character is determined by policy context (e.g. Beer, 2009; Musiani, 2013). Specifically for automating decisions, some scholars point towards the limitations of AI linked to discussions around accountability and clarity of how decisions are made (e.g. Diakopoulos 2013).

Research on AI use in the public sector is maturing quickly. In the past, important groundwork has been done on potentials and concerns based on anecdotes and exploratory case studies. As AI use by governments is slowly leaving its infancy, the debates about AI can increasingly be fuelled with solid empirical work. This gives inspiration for second order questions that go beyond general promises and concerns of AI use.

Emerging approaches increasingly cross disciplinary borders, to tackle more nuanced question, such as:

  1. What can public administration learn from fields of research such as humanities, law, and computer sciences? (Seaver, 2017; Yeung, 2018);
  2. How can AI practices account for existing biases in data as well as marginalized developments and cultural factors (Treré and Milan, 2021);
  3. What political or organizational institutions affect tradeoffs between effectiveness and transparency on multiple organizational levels;
  4. What socio-material practices are used in public organizations to adopt machine learning algorithms, work with algorithms, and address unintended consequences (Christin, 2020);
  5. Finally, how can one ‘engineer’ better (semi-)algorithmic services based on material impacts of citizens, and thereby preventing long, painful feedback loops? And also, for more engineering-oriented scholars more integrative approaches can be used, bridging engineering, law, institutions, policy making, execution.


There is still lots to discover. This panel aims to explore and investigate these second order questions and to provide answers about the role, use and effects of AI in the public sector.



The panel welcomes empirical and theoretical papers about both potentials and concerns of AI in the public sector. The panel is also open to more normative and reflective work. It especially welcomes interdisciplinary contributions and transdisciplinary work that highlights the perspectives of users, such as citizens, of AI systems. On the basis of a set of diverse contributions, we aim to engage in an academic debate on the state of the art of AI use in the public sector. In this way, we hope to contribute to the ongoing debate about to what extent algorithms really are transformative for the public sector as well as to advance the maturing academic field of Algorithmic Governance.




Democracy is increasingly under pressure. Trends of democratic erosion and backsliding affect even the oldest democracies in Europe and North America. While acknowledging that support for the ideal of representative democracy is still high, studies have observed dissatisfaction and malfunctioning regarding key elements of democratic practice, such as decline in voter turnout and citizens feeling alienated from the political system. Faced with these developments, the calls for more citizen participation (for instance through referendums) and for democratic innovation (for instance through citizen assemblies) have become louder. In light of this, several questions arise. How can citizens be motivated to participate and become adequately informed in such processes? How can we best design and organise these innovations? And do they really live up to the expectations in practice?

This panel will address such questions. It focusses on democratic innovations in the Netherlands and beyond, ranging from empirical studies (e.g. using survey questionnaires, focus groups or interview data) to theoretical accounts of the rationale and potential of further facilitating participation and deliberation. We encourage learning from each other about specific cases as well as research methodologies for studying democratic innovation.

We aim to have a fruitful mixture of senior, mid-career and early-career researchers, and hence encourage colleagues in all stages who interested in these topics to join and share and discuss their recent work and work in progress.

Amongst others, we welcome theoretical as well as qualitative and quantitative empirical papers within the realm of democratic innovations an citizen participation focusing on:

  1. description, explanation and evaluation of the current state of citizen participation at different levels of government;
  2. design of democratic innovations, e.g. how processes are organised in terms of themes, participants, logistics, deliberation, voting procedures, ;
  3. inclusion of harder-to-reach participants, for example minority groups or youths, and which design features and organisational matters are most successful in involving them;
  4. democratic values realised by democratic innovations, such as inclusion, effectiveness, and citizen competences;
  5. what citizens expect from participation and which roles, guidance or follow-up they would prefer for democratic innovations;
  6. elite perspectives on democratic innovations within the context of representative democracy: what drives politicians or civil servants to engage in such processes and which challenges do they face in practice;
  7. opportunities and plans for democratic innovation for the local governments that have recently been established in the Netherlands for the 2022-2026

In sum, this panel welcomes papers focusing on these and other questions surrounding the design, implementation, and effects of democratic innovations, as well as the current and potential future state of citizen participation in democratic systems.


  1. Academic (working) papers analysing democratic innovations either from an empirical or theoretical perspective. Such as, but not limited to, in-depth case studies of specific cases, comparative research on democratic innovations, survey studies on perceptions and preferences for citizen participation, theoretical and normative reflections on the application of democratic innovations within a broader democratic
  2. Practitioner papers detailing cases of democratic innovations at subnational levels, reports detailing findings based on survey or interview data collected among participants and organisers of democratic innovations,




An authoritative reputation of inspectorates, and comparable supervisory bodies, is key for public trust in regulatory decisions and for compliance by regulatees. Such authority exists when inspectorates are perceived as both competent and fair. Traditionally, such perceptions were grounded in inspectorates’ technical expertise and rational decision making competence. But inspectorates are increasingly subject to contestation (WRR 2013; Twist et al 2013; Koop & Lodge 2020). Their authority, independence, expertise and professionalism are openly questioned in professional sectors, in media, and in public debate. Increasingly, inspectorates compete with citizen scientists – citizens collecting or reviewing data – and societal ‘surrogate inspectors’. Growing societal complexity changes inspectorate’s work from (more or less straightforward) rule-application to performance amidst ambiguity, uncertainty and dilemmas.

The professional norms, protocols and scientific standards developed alongside legal rules do not solve inherent tensions around professional judgement of inspectors and inspectorates. Inspectorates nowadays are expected to earn public trust not solely through professional technical and legal decisions, but also through public perceptions of their performance and outcomes as legitimate and in the public interest1. They seek to establish authority beyond technical and legal expertise, in contributing to the public value for society and in demonstrating effectiveness, empathy, and justice. This is not self-evident in times of increased mediatization of governance (Opperhuizen et al 2020; Schillemans & Pierre 2020); polarization and societal divisions around value conflicts (Stoker 2019; Bressanelli et al 2020; Koop & Lodge 2020); and politicization of scientific expertise. This calls for the question how public authority by inspectorates can be understood, explained, and strengthened.

Over the last twenty years of scholarship on the topic, bureaucratic reputation (Carpenter 2001) has proved a valuable concept through which to understand the multi-dimensional, contested nature of regulatory authority in contemporary society (Lee & Van Ryzin 2018; Overman et al 2020). Bureaucratic Reputation refers to what people believe an organization to be like: what they believe it stands for and what they believe it to be capable of (Carpenter 2010) rather than whether it is simply ‘good’ or bad’. Bureaucratic Reputation adds to existing governance concepts such as public trust (Kooiman 2003; Klijn et al 2010; Six & Verhoest 2016); responsiveness (Ayres & Braithwaite 1992) and legitimacy (Scharpf 1997; Kooiman 2003; Tyler 2006).

Research to date has deepened our understanding of reputation as a shaper of public authority of inspectorates. Critically, studies suggest that when inspectorates have a strong reputation, it fosters collaborative relations with stakeholders and the general public and success (Capelos et al 2016; Busuioc & Rimkuté 2019; Rimkuté 2019), and protects against attacks on autonomy (Carpenter 2010). However, research into inspectorate reputation, its formation, and its role in authority is still burgeoning and many empirical and theoretical questions require further research on multiple fronts.



Submissions might address, but do not have to be limited to, the following questions:

  1. How can bureaucratic reputation be conceptualized and analyzed in contemporary supervisory contexts?
  2. In what ways does bureaucratic reputation differ in nature and function for inspectorates versus other forms of public organizations, or civil society, private, and hybrid organizations?
  3. How is inspectorate reputation shaped, and how does it change? What are the respective roles of institutional factors, supervisory strategy, and individual and group psychology of audiences?
  4. How does inspectorate reputation interact with the day-to-day regulatory interactions of street-level bureaucracy? Can individual inspectorates build an inspectorate’s reputation? Does the inspectorate’s reputation influence the nature of these interactions?
  5. How do the reputations of other actors in an inspectorate’s network ‘spill over’ onto the supervisor? Can this be managed?
  6. What are the implications of ‘surrogate inspectorates’ for the reputation and authority of authorized inspectorates?
  7. How do reputational considerations drive inspectorate decision making? How has the changing, often politicized, landscape of contemporary supervision changed how inspectorates strategize and act?
  8. How can individual inspectorates create a strong reputation when their work is so often invisible and their role so often unclear to the public?
  9. In what ways does the reputation of an inspectorate influence compliance by regulatees? What kind of reputation builds versus undermines compliance?
  10. How does the reputation of an inspectorate influence citizen support for regulatory decisions and actions?
  11. In what ways does bureaucratic reputation function differently in different supervisory domains, different supervisory stakeholder audiences, and in regard to different supervisory tasks?
  12. What are the ethical and normative dimensions of bureaucratic reputation? To what extent should inspectorates actively seek to manage reputation?


We welcome empirical as well as conceptual papers. These papers could focus on inspectorates (or comparable supervisory bodies), or on the organizations and individuals who work with them or are supervised by them.




The central aim of this panel is to discuss critical and/or interpretive studies in public administration research. Critical public administration is a reflective and normative approach that explicitly scrutinizes and questions the hegemonic paradigms and (implicit) values that inform both theory and practice of public administration. In doing so, it generally draws on critical theory. Examples of critical studies could be a Foucauldian analysis of climate policy discourse, or a reflection on local participatory policy using Mouffe’s theory of conflict as the essence of democracy.

Interpretive approaches to public administration focus on ‘the meanings of policies, on the values, feelings and/or beliefs which they express, and on the processes by which those meanings are communicated to and “read” by various audiences’ (Yanow, 1996, pp. 8-9). Interpretive studies tend to be strongly grounded in fieldwork, with scholars studying the different levels of administrative, political, or organizational action up close and personal. They zoom in on the daily practices, routines and interactions of diverse actors who operate on different organizational and policy layers—whether representatives, public managers, policy makers, frontline workers, or citizens—and their sense-making, framing or storytelling practices.

To some, critical and interpretive approaches go hand in hand. Others portray themselves as engaging in one, but not necessarily the other. Nonetheless, critical and interpretive scholars may find each other in an ambition to explore, at a fundamental level, the way in which actors ‘construct the world through acting on beliefs they also construct’ (Bevir & Rhodes, 2010, p. 73). It is this critical or reflexive stance towards knowledge production that feeds a common ground; both critically approach and problematize the idea of the objectively knowable.

We welcome papers on any empirical and theoretical topics that fit with CIPA. However, we particularly welcome papers that deal with the triad of politics, public policy, and implementation. After COVID-19, the tax office scandal in the Netherlands and parliamentary hearings that point to the crushing effects of policies for citizens, we realize, now more than ever, that governments wield awesome powers. These powers often materialize in professional practice at the frontline, making it interesting to analyze and discuss how professionals cope with, or enact, power relations. Also, to reach policy objectives in various domains like education or healthcare, it is believed amongst policy makers that implementation cannot do without deliberate interactions amongst relevant and affected actors. This idea, popular in public policy, may change the role perceptions, mentalities, and practices of professionals in different and unexpected ways. While there is no shortage of instrumental and evaluative studies of public policy implementation, we therefore encourage researchers to contribute their critical and interpretive perspectives.

This panel is part of the NIG Colloquium Critical and Interpretive Public Administration, originated in 2019, and aims to ‘further develop and improve interpretive and critical approaches in terms of content, method and output and more firmly establish them within the landscape of public administration research.’ This panel is one of the platforms in which this colloquium gets substance. Often, researchers employing critical or interpretative methods meet each other in conference panels organized by empirical topic rather than theoretical approach. This panel provides a reflexive space for critical and interpretative scholars to enter into conversation about their research and its contributions to the broader discipline of public administration.



The panel welcomes papers that explicitly apply a critical or interpretive approach, as well as reflexive papers about what ‘interpretive’ or ‘critical’ public administration research means or should mean. Because this panel is presented by a colloquium which emphasizes networking, we also welcome more creative contributions that deviate from the traditional research paper format. Think, for instance, of a research proposal, a methodological contribution, a column, or a short essay.

This means that papers can cover a wide array of topics, from an ethnographic account of front-line practices to a reflective study of dominant discourses in public administration research itself, and from a narrative analysis of a decision-making process to a paper discussing comparative analysis using critical theory. We particularly welcome papers that deal with the politics and practice of public policy implementation. When proposing a paper, participants are asked to explicitly link their contribution to the theme of the panel.




Recent research on accountability has shed light on new developments regarding accountability in modern governance. Contributions have been made to increase our understanding of new, or previously under-researched phenomena such as: algorithmic accountability; social accountability; voluntary accountability; felt accountability; multiple accountabilities; accountability and populism; media-covered accountability; and forum drift. This panel aims to connect researchers that work on these and other innovative research topics, producing knowledge that can contribute to making accountability work in modern governance. In particular, this panel welcomes contributions that focus on one of the following three themes:

  1. Account-holders in a digitalised society,
  2. Mediatization, populism and accountability,
  3. Accountability, citizens’ trust and legitimacy perceptions


Account-holders in a digitalised society

Digitalisation has propelled an increased use of algorithms and big data analytics in government decision-making. While there are hopes that these developments could lead to more effective and efficient governments, serious questions have also been raised about the accountability and legitimacy of algorithmic decision-making (e.g. Busuioc, 2020; Grimmelikhuijsen & Meijer, 2022). Account-holders, ranging from parliamentarians to independent watchdog institutions such as auditors and Ombudsmen as well as Data Protection Authorities, have potentially important roles to play in order to ensure that the digitalised society remains under democratic control.

Recently, account-holders have published reports about the digitalisation of government (Nationale Ombudsman, 2017), and the (un)accountable use of algorithms in governmental decision-making (Algemene Rekenkamer, 2021; Nationale Ombudsman, 2021). At the same time, account-holders are also exploring how they themselves can use algorithms and big data analytics to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of account-holding (European Court of Auditors, 2020). Furthermore, the digital transformation of society has brought with it new challenges related to privacy and information safety, prompting transnational regulations such as GDPR. This has put pressure on the inter-institutional relations of data protection authorities, which have to collaborate and find consensus around the enforcement of new international regulatory standards.

These developments pose a number of questions of increasing societal relevance, which remain to be explored by accountability scholars: How are account-holders holding algorithms and digital services accountable? How are account-holders using algorithms and big data analytics themselves, and what are the implications thereof for accountability in the public sector? How does digitalisation affect relationships between account-holders.

Mediatization, populism and accountability

New digital media, such as social media, have emerged, creating additional spaces for public accountability. As social media are layered on top of ‘traditional media’ (Chadwick, 2013), there is a need to go beyond studying media channels in isolation, and instead focus on how accountability is (re)shaped by interactions between different kinds of ‘forums’ in the media landscape. It is unclear how accountability through/in the media – offline, online and in combination – affects public sector organizations. While there are concerns that the negativity bias in the media may reinforce citizens’ negative perceptions towards government, some account-holding institutions have started to use (social) media visibility as an instrument for encouraging and rewarding good behavior (e.g., the European Ombudsman’s Award for Good Administration). Other relevant questions relate to how public sector organizations are dealing with increased media scrutiny: How and why do public officials give account to the media, for instance in times of crises such as the COVID- 19 crisis?

Simultaneously, and relatedly, there has been a steady rise of populist pressure on public administration. A common feature of populist movements across the world is that they seek to exert greater control over institutions of governance by strengthening the direct accountability of the nation’s public administration – through measures such as referendums, political appointees, and retracting from transnational institutions – to those in power and ‘the people’ (Moynihan, 2022), triggering a process of politicization of accountability (Wood et al., 2022).

Political and media pressures may perhaps explain why public sector organizations in the Netherlands have recently gone at length to demonstrate their accountability in the aftermath of the child benefit allowance scandal (“de toeslagenaffaire”). A case in point is The Council of State (“raad van State”), which wrote a “reflection report” (Afdeling bestuursrechtspraak van de Raad van State, 2021) in which it retrospectively assessed its role in the scandal and formulated a set of lessons. Moreover, coalition parties have promised “a new governance culture” in which transparency and accountability are important values, though it remains to be seen what this new culture actually entails. For accountability scholars, this situation offers a prime opportunity for empirically studying the effects of politized accountability on bureaucracy. For example: What views about transparency and accountability are reflected in the narrative(s) about the “new governance culture”? How do public sector organizations respond to populist pressures for accountability?

Accountability, citizens’ trust and legitimacy perceptions

In the light of concerns about rising public distrust and skepticism towards the public sector, exploring the links between accountability and citizens’ trust and legitimacy perceptions is of increasing importance. While some suggest that accountability can contribute to the legitimacy and trustworthiness of public institutions (Bovens, 2007), others are concerned that the dysfunctional effects of accountability might erode citizens’ support and trust in the public sector (Flinders, 2011). From a procedural fairness perspective, accountability could increase the likelihood that citizens are willing to accept unfavorable policy outcomes (cf. Tyler, 2006). Ill-designed or badly managed accountability arrangements could however “reinforce the idea that the responsiveness of public officials and agencies is something of a charade” (Bovens et al., 2008, p. 239). Nevertheless, empirical research is still needed to determine more precisely the consequences of accountability for citizens’ trust and legitimacy perceptions.

This year’s edition of our panel is very open to contributions that focus on public preferences and evaluations of accountability practices, and the effects of accountability for citizens’ trust in, and perceived legitimacy of, governance. It is for instance still unknown under which conditions new forms of accountability, such as digital accountability, can contribute to public trust. As accountability takes place in an increasingly mediatized environment, it is furthermore of particular interest to study citizens’ responses to “media-covered accountability processes” (see e.g. Jacobs et al., 2021).



This panel seeks to stimulate academic discussion around innovative and cutting-edge research on public accountability. It is open to theoretical/conceptual, normative, and empirical (qualitative and quantitative) papers. The panel particularly welcomes contributions that apply new and innovative methodological approaches (e.g. experiments, machine learning, social media analysis, etc.) to study accountability.

Paper topics include, but are not limited to:

  1. Studies focused on explaining forum behavior (e.g. forum drift, account-holding intensity, inter-forum relationships, forum interdependencies et cetera);
  2. Studies that provide insight into individual behavior linked to accountability (e.g. felt accountability and other social psychology approaches);
  3. Studies dealing with digitalisation and algorithmic
  4. Studies on traditional media, social media and their interactions in accountability processes;
  5. Studies on the effect of populist pressures on
  6. Studies focussed on the effects of accountability for the legitimacy and trustworthiness of public sector organizations





This panel is organized by the NIG Colloquium on EU and International Governance, and is open to both members and non-members of the colloquium.

The European Union is under ever-increasing pressure to solve complex societal problems that transcend national borders. Some of these problems are slowly unfolding, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, whereas others present themselves in the form of urgent crises, such as the 2015/2016 refugee crisis, the COVID-19-pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

At the same time, effective collective problem-solving is complicated by the decline of permissive consensus, the upsurge of Eurosceptics and populism, and the strong politicization of EU governance at the national level. This contestation hampers further sovereignty transfers to the EU level and makes effective collective action problematic, especially in domains that touch on core state powers and involve distributional conflict.

As a consequence, the EU is confronted by an increasingly pressing governance paradox: member states’ desire to solve common problems without surrendering too much power to supranational institutions. This paradox, or even contradiction between collective action and member state control, has had important ramifications for the institutional setup, functioning and outputs of EU governance.

Firstly, in recent years we have seen fundamental changes of an institutional nature. The upsurge of crisis and strengthening role of member states has led to important shifts in power between the EU institutions, as epitomized by the rise of the European Council and increasing manifestation of the European Parliament in the wake of the Treaty of Lisbon. These shifts in power also have important ramifications at the national level. The strengthening of the European Council, for instance, requires a recalibration of national coordination structures and complicates effective scrutiny and control by national parliaments.

Furthermore, to bridge the gap between collective problem solving and national control over implementation and enforcement, the member states have pieced together a European Administrative Space, characterized by composite administrative structures such as European Administrative Networks, comitology committees and European agencies. These developments coincide with a more political, hands off approach to enforcement of policies by the European Commission, which has led to continued widespread disrespect of joint legislation, as has been reported for the field of migration and asylum.

A second set of changes is attitudinal and behavioral in nature: both EU-level and domestic actors have repositioned themselves in response to these institutional shifts. A key development is the politicization of the European Commission, introduced by Juncker and continued by Von der Leyen. Furthermore, national parliaments have sought to ‘claw back lost powers’ by utilizing newly acquired institutional powers such as the Early Warning System, or improving their information position.

Thirdly, the European governance paradox has played out rather differently in various policy areas. Some areas are characterized by policy stagnation, as is the case in the field of the Common European Asylum Strategy. In other areas, rapid and unprecedented collective action ensued in response to crisis, as evidenced by the Recovery and Resilience Fund and the recent Green Deal.



We welcome papers on:

  1. The domestic public and political attitudes to European integration;
  2. The consequences of this political contestation for the EU’s inter-institutional balance and its effects on EU decision making and accountability;
  3. The characteristics, functioning and impact of the different institutional elements of the European Administrative Space (European Administrative Networks, comitology);
  4. The implications of these EU-level institutional developments for national systems of EU coordination and control;
  5. The variant EU’s policy responses to pressing collective action problems, both of a crisis and non-crisis nature;
  6. Member states’ responses to these policies, in terms of compliance, implementation and enforcement;
  7. EU institutions responses to these national patterns of policy delivery, e.g. in terms of enforcement
  8. Normative assessments of EU governance, e.g. focusing on notions of transparency, accountability, or legitimacy.


    Papers can be theoretical, empirical or normative in nature. We welcome both papers that reflect on these topics in general terms, or in applied terms, i.e. focusing on one or more EU policy areas.




Municipalities, regions, provinces and waterboards are increasingly in flux, so it seems. They face challenges of new problems such as climate change. These problems are often described as wicked, marked by organizational complexity and fundamentally different understandings how they can and should be dealt with. In the meantime, the institutional setting of sub-national politics and administration has been changing due to processes such as decentralisations, regionalization, and internationalization, enhancing the multi-level nature of network governance at the sub-national level. In addition, elections often lead to a substantial replacement of the incumbent members of the representative and executive bodies, whereas labour market shortages and ageing entail a substantial replacement of civil servants. Internal reorganisations of sub-national administrations further interrupt the personal ties underpinning the policy networks arranging problems at the sub-national level.

This workshop explores the impact of these complex dynamics in sub-national politics and administration. Is complex dynamics business as usual for municipalities, regions, waterboards, and provinces, as they have always been interdependent on public and private actors to pursue public values such as economic development, social wellbeing, effective water management, and orderly spatial planning? Or have these complex dynamics grown in scope and intensity, disrupting the basic routines of sub-national politics and administration? Is voting meaningful, as citizens can hardly understand these complex dynamics in their cities, provinces and water boards, while their voice is just one among many in sub-national networks? Are sub-national representatives and executives yet able to comprehend the intricacies of these networks in order to initiate policies, to oversee their implementation, and to hold the right actors accountable? Can civil servants still operate according to standard operating procedures or do these routines make less and less sense? And apart from the empirical observation of the actual impact of the complex dynamics, how can they be appreciated from normative perspectives: Do they complicate or enhance the democratic quality and effectiveness of subnational governance?

Thus, the impact of complex dynamics on sub-national politics and administration is the core theme of this this panel. As part of the NIG Research Colloquium Multi-level Local Democracy, this panel brings scholars from various backgrounds together to study the continuities and changes in municipalities, regions, waterboards, and provinces in the Netherlands and elsewhere.



We welcome papers on the complex dynamics and basic routines in municipalities, regions, water boards, and provinces in the Netherlands and elsewhere. They can address individual actors and institutions such as voters, neighbourhood associations, local civil society, members of sub-national representative and executive bodies, and public and private actors in sub-national policy networks, but may also explore sub-national governance systems as a whole. They can do so with a focus on a particular policy issue, such as social wellbeing and spatial planning, or a specific process, such as internationalization, regionalization, or decentralization. We also heartily welcome contributions from various disciplinary origins such as public administration, law, political science, economics, and sociology to allow for a kaleidoscopic view of dynamics and routines of sub-national politics and administration.

Signpost to Tilburg University

The university campus of Tilburg University is optimally accessible by any means of transport. Please visit the university website for more information.
In the program booklet, you will find information about the buildings and the rooms where the conference takes place. 

Attendees with a disability

All conference locations are accessible for people with a disability.
The Aula and the Portrettenzaal are accessible via the Koopmans Building.
Information about the accessibility of the  Cobbenhagen Building can be found here.
Mind that for room K1203 there is only one elevator that goes to the 12th floor.
Discover how to get to Tilburg Univerity and all the practical information you need here. 

Suggestions for hotels near Tilburg University

We recommend the following hotels near Tilburg University:

  • Auberge du Bonheur – this hotel is at walking distance from the university campus and a 20 minute walk from Tilburg central station. More information about this hotel can be found here
  • Van der Valk Hotel Gilze-Tilburg – this hotel is near the highway A58, which makes it a good suggestion for attendees who travel by car. It is, however, difficult to reach by public transport. Parking at this hotel is for free, also at the university campus. More information about this hotel can be found here.
  • Mercure Hotel Tilburg – this hotel is in the city center of Tilburg and you can reach it easily with public transport. More information about this hotel can be found here


Important: these hotels are only suggestions. We are not responsible for making reservations. Hotel costs will not be covered by the Netherlands Institute of Governance. 

Conference fees

The conference fees for our 2022 conference depend on your affiliation with NIG.

  • The conference is free for people who are a NIG member. If you are a NIG member, you do not have to fill out the invoice information on the registration form. Are you unsure whether you are a member? E-mail us
  • The conference costs 125,- euros for people employed by a NIG member university. All member universities can be found here. 
  • The conference costs 175,- euros for people not employed by a NIG member university