Conference 2021

Our 2021 annual conference will take place on Wednesday the 17th and Thursday 18th of November.

The form of the conference this year (online, hybrid or physical) will depend on COVID-19 measures in the Netherlands. More information on that in early summer.

Key Deadlines

  • Call for abstracts now open
  • Call for abstracts closes: September 3rd (notification within 2 weeks after closure)
  • Registration opens: Halfway September
  • Full paper submission opens: Halfway September
  • Full paper submission closes: October 20th
  • Registration closes: October 29th

Call for abstracts now open

Abstracts can be sent in through our office manager Esther Verheijen at The deadline for abstract submission is September 3th.

Abstract requirements

You can submit your abstract to one of our 16 panels. Abstracts should meet the following requirements:

  • You must include the number and title of the panel you are submitting your abstract to
  • You must state the title of your abstract
  • You must state all co-authors
  • Abstract can be max. 500 words including references
  • Abstracts need to be submitted to Esther Verheijen via
  • You must state the number of the panel in the title of the e-mail

 NIG will collect all abstracts but panel chairs will decide on the eligibility.


This year we will host 16 panelsBelow you find more information on each panel

Contact person: Albert Meijer, Utrecht University,

Chairs and organizers: 
Bram Klievink (Leiden University,;
Albert Meijer (Utrecht University;;
Lukas Lorenz (Utrecht University,
Sarah Giest (Leiden University,;
Haiko van der Voort (Delft University of Technology,

Description and proposed theme:  
Artificial intelligence (AI) – a set of defined steps structured to process instructions/data to produce an output (Kitchin 2017) – plays a growing role in the public sector. The promise of AI is an effective, efficient and more responsive public sector as well as bringing reliability and objectivity to uncertain policy procedures. AI technologies are said to increase the capacity of public sector organisations for delivering public services. Automating repetitive tasks would free up valuable time of civil servants. AI-supported insights could support public policy-making, safety, detect fraud, help the judiciary, make inspections more targeted, allocate and plan police capacity, or aid the management of assets in infrastructure or utilities.

Yet, as algorithms become embedded within public organizations, its use raises a set of questions that are yet to be fully addressed academically. Some of these questions have an evaluative character – does AI really make the public sector more effective? – while other questions have a more theoretical nature – how does the role of the street-level bureaucrat change with the use of AI (e.g. Bovens & Zouridis, 2002)? What does AI- professionalism look like? What is more, many public organisations are only taking their first steps towards using AI, and face challenges related to personnel management, the organisational embedding of AI-expertise, and a gap between AI-experts and decision-makers.

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 (e.g. Beer, 2009; Musiani, 2013). Specifically in the context of automating decisions, others point towards the limitations of AI linked to a discussion around a lack of accountability and clarity how decisions are made (e.g. Diakopoulos 2013). This AI ‘black boxing’ includes applications in nudging behavior and structuring preferences in a certain way as well as identifying, sorting and classifying people.

This panel aims to broadly explore and investigate these and other issues related to the role, use and effects of AI in the public sector.

Aims of the panel 
The panel welcomes empirical and theoretical papers but is also open to more normative and reflective work on public values and ethics (also see below). We aim to engage in an academic debate on AI-related innovations, their opportunities, challenges and effects in a public governance context to assess to what extent they really are transformative.

Topics of papers that can be submitted to the panel include but are not limited to:

  1. Public values in relationship to AI and (big) data analytics
  2. AI applications in the public sector
  3. AI and policy monitoring and analytics
  4. Smart cities
  5. Organizational consequences of AI in government
  6. Big data analytics for policy making
  7. Digital innovations and innovation management in the public sector
  8. Public sector information management
  9. AI implementation cases and strategies
  10. Regulatory issues related to AI
  11. The politics of algorithms, including the emergence of new professionals
  12. The dynamics of ‘networked’ decision-making in relationship to AI
  13. The impact of AI on democratic values and the governance thereof

Contact person: (Rosanna, Nagtegaal, UU, the Netherlands)

Chairs and organizers: 
Rosanna Nagtegaal (Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands);
Amandine Lerusse (KU Leuven, Belgium);
Robin Bouwman (Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Description and proposed theme:  
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 surveys, diary studies, machine learning and and interviews gain an understanding of the relationship between psychology and public administration.

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?

Papers that can be submitted

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

 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.

Contact person: Lars Dorren. Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Chairs and organizers: 
Lars Dorren, Leiden University,
Shivant Jhagroe, Leiden University,
Evelijn Martinius, Vrije Universiteit,
Simone van de Wetering, Tilburg University,
Eva Wolf, Tilburg University, e.a.wolf@tilburguniversity.ed

Description and proposed theme:  
The 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. 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 life up close and personal. 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).

Even though we are open to all papers which fit CIPA, this year’s iteration of the CIPA panel has two focal points and subsequent sessions: (1) Inclusive Public Administration (research); and (2) CIPA Research in Times of COVID19.

For the session themed Inclusive Public Administration (research) we want to start up a discussion about uneven power relations and privilege in the practice of and research on public administration. An important starting point is the idea that if a policy network that defines public problems and their solutions lacks inclusivity (for example: overwhelming white and male), some problems and solutions might be foregrounded, thereby excluding others (some might not even be seen at all). Such policies could have uneven distributional effects in society at large. Moreover, if the discipline devoted to study public administration contains similar bias, such blind spots are potentially compounded. For instance, in the field of climate policy and its analysis, selective understandings about ‘climate change’ and ‘green solutions’ could prevail. In other words, knowing that those who decide on public policies and those that study public policies are not a very heterogeneous group (and the higher in the hierarchy, the more homogeneous the group becomes), we wonder how that bias impacts the actual practice and study of public administration. Discussions on this topic have been sparse, which might be due to the very bias described above. We want to open up debate and reflection. What are key blind spots in public administration and how are they (re)produced? Which cases provide telling stories about privilege in public administration? In what way do blind spots in policy practice and research relate or differ? What is needed to create more inclusive public administration spaces? We invite studies that reflect on the uneven power relations and inclusivity (in terms of gender, ethnicity, geography, social-economic position, ableness, and any other angles that relate to privilege and inclusivity) of public administration practice and public administration research in the widest sense of the word. 

A second session, themed CIPA Research in Times of COVID19 provides space to discuss critical and interpretative public administration in the context of COVID19. The COVID pandemic has, first of all, impacted what we research: both the governance responses to and societal effects of COVID19 became a topic of study for critical and interpretative scholars. Secondly, the pandemic has significantly impacted how we (can) do research (Howlett, 2021). For instance, for many ethnographers the field has changed: informal encounters became scheduled online meetings, crowded streets and offices turned into desolated public spaces, and immersion in the field was restricted by working from home. This raises all kinds of methodological questions. From practical questions, e.g. how to develop relations and access and build a network in times of social distancing, to more fundamental ones, e.g. if and how we can observe sensemaking online settings. The pandemic shows how interpretative and critical public administration is continuously evolving. This asks for critical reflection: on the studies we perform in extraordinary circumstances, and on how these circumstances affect our research practice both during the pandemic and possibly thereafter.

This panel is part of the NIG Colloquium Critical and Interpretive Public Administration (CIPA). CIPA 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. We want to provide a reflexive space for critical and interpretative scholars to enter into conversation about their research. As we aim to position reflexivity in the broader discipline of public administration and affiliated disciplines, we also explicitly welcome papers that fit CIPA but not necessarily the two sub-themes.

Topics of papers that can be submitted 
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. Even though any paper fitting this description is welcome, we particularly welcome papers that discuss the sub-themes of inclusive public administration and interpretive research during COVID19. These can again include papers that apply a critical or interpretive approach (research on or conducted during the pandemic) and reflexive papers discussing the effects of COVID19 on critical and interpretive approaches during the pandemic and possibly thereafter.

When proposing a paper, participants are asked to explicitly link their contribution to one of the subthemes, or CIPA research in general. This means 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 methodological reflection on the value of participant observation as a research method in times of COVID19.

Because the panel is proposed by a colloquium aiming to further reflexivity among PA-scholars, we also welcome contributions deviating from the traditional paper format.  Think, for instance, of a research proposal, column, essay or methodological contribution.

Contact persons: Dr. Hylke Dijkstra (Maastricht University), /Prof. Bertjan Verbeek (Radboud University Nijmegen),

Description and proposed theme:  
International cooperation and multilateralism have prospered after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, but in the last decade they appear in crisis. The United States, under President Donald Trump, has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Iran nuclear deal, the Universal Postal Union, and UNESCO. It has cut funding for the World Health Organization, blocked the appointment of judges to the WTO appellate body, and questioned the fundamentals of NATO. The BRICS countries during their Durban Declaration in 2013 suggested a range of alternative international forums and China has set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Belt and Road Initiative. The European Union, realizing that it can no longer rely on other international actors, is meanwhile pursuing “strategic autonomy”.

The crisis of international cooperation and multilateralism should, however, not only been seen through the prism of geopolitics between the United States and China, with a possible role for Europe. International cooperation is also heavily contested domestically. Populist and populist governments are increasingly frustrating international cooperation. The Trump administration is one example, but the Brexit referendum has also had severe effects on cooperation in Europe and rule of law crises in Hungary and Poland show the contested nature of European legitimacy. Trade agreements are increasingly contested and fail to be ratified and properly implemented. Meanwhile, the rise of authoritarianism such as the case in Brazil of the Philippines also put further constraints on international cooperation. In other words, the infamous “liberal international order” seems under threat.

Scholars have started to study the decline of international cooperation, how cooperation is contested and delegitimized/legitimized, and the crisis of liberal international order (e.g. Ikenberry 2018; Mearsheimer 2019; Tallberg & Zuern 2019). The purpose of this NIG workshop is to bring together all scholars with an interest in international relations at the NIG member institutions to take stock of cooperation and legitimacy in international relations. We would like to reflect on these current debates, but also aim to take the research agenda forward.

Topics of papers that can be submitted 
While the focus on the workshop is on contemporary international relations, we also welcome more historical perspectives and papers from adjacent disciplines including public administration. Several potential questions include:

  1. What are the effects of the contestation of international cooperation and the crisis of legitimacy? Scholars convincingly show that there is contestation, but does this also result in an actual decline of international cooperation
  2. What are the (domestic and global) mechanisms through which the legitimacy of international organizations is established or challenged? What theoretical insights form different disciplines can shed a light on these processes? What historical examples of such processes of (de)legitimization may help us understand contemporary contestations
  3. What damage has the Trump administration done to international cooperation? What are prospects of the Biden administration? How is China resharing global relations? What are the effects of multipolarity? Is there a role for Europe?
  4. To what extent is multilateralism responsive to the changing demands of international relations and the legitimacy challenges put forward by states and domestic actors?
  5. To what extent is the crisis of liberal international order also felt “on the ground” by “street level bureaucrats” in which of the implementation of international cooperation and policy programmes?
  6. What actions can the secretariats of international organizations take to affect contestation of legitimacy?
  7. What are the cooperation potentials for addressing great cross-border challenges such as Covid-19 or climate change?

Contact person: Dr. Veronica Junjan, University of Twente,

  • Chairs and organizers: 
    Dr. Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, v.junjan@utwente.nlDr.
  • Giselle Bosse, Maastricht University,
  • Description and proposed theme:  

    The panel investigates the factors that influence the impact of the EU on the New Member States (NMS) and European Neighborhood Area, and analyses the mechanisms governing the influence of the EU against the backdrop of the coordination of governmental response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    This panel provides a forum to discuss how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the government democratization process and public administration reforms in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as well as the countries in the EU’s Eastern Partnership Policy (EaP). The developments in these countries affect the internal stability of the EU as well as the coordination of response within the current COVID-19 pandemic. Governmental capacity (political and administrative) is arguably one of the most important characteristics required in coordinating societal response, particularly in crisis situations. In addition, the countries of the target region have experienced multiple waves of political and administrative turbulence as of the recent thirty years. It would be interesting to reflect to what extent “being used” to uncertainty and turbulence presupposed by the fundamental political and societal changes may have made the governments and citizen better prepared to cope with the unexpected pandemic of the last year.

    The goal of this panel is manifold. We aim to explore what kind of consequences the Covid-19 crisis had on (i) the ability and legitimacy of external – especially European – forces to steer administrative reforms (e.g., Schimmelfennig and Sedelmaier, 2005) and on (ii) the effectiveness of the mechanisms through which political and administrative reforms can be stimulated by external actors (e.g. Lavenex 2008, Lavenex and Schimmelfennig 2009), by governmentality structures (Walters 2012) and policy design (De Vries et alli, 2020). At the same time, we aim to investigate

    (iii) the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also of other recent political and economic crises on domestic actors and structures and on the governing paradigm (Roberts, 2019, 2020), response coordination such as bureaucratic politics, evidence based policy (De Vries et alli, 2020), institutional constraints or legacies of the communist regime in Eastern Europe and its Neighbourhood  (e.g. Grzymala-Busse 2007, Eymeri-Douzans and Pierre, 2011).

    Democratization and administrative reforms developed in an interplay of actions between domestic (political actors, civil society, citizens) and international (EU, WHO, World Bank, OECD, and UN) actors. Reform, restructuring, change are all difficult processes which have an extended impact upon societies, governments and citizens alike. The turbulence of the broad socio-economic context raises more issues regarding the development and sustainability of democratization and administrative reforms.

    The panel contributes significantly to the NIG’s central theme of ‘Multi-level Governance and Europe’. Democratisation and public sector reform in CEE and EaP partner states addresses fundamental changes in the relationship between citizens and the institutions governing the public sphere of these countries. It is therefore essential to explore the effectiveness with which the EU has managed the political reform process in CEE -for instance in comparison to EaP partners- to gain a better understanding of how and why reforms in some countries are being implemented better and faster than in others. Assessing the available policy and legal instruments and tools will allow us to say something more about what we can actually expect of the EU. In addition, the effectiveness with which democratisation and public sector reforms take place directly impacts on individual citizens. For Benita Ferrero-Waldner, former European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, the ENP signifies not only the ‘latest addition to our democratization toolbox’ to ‘encourage the spirit of democracy’ via strengthening the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights’ (Ferrero-Waldner, 2006a: 1) but also ‘human security – putting individuals at the heart of security concerns’ (Ferrero- Waldner, 2007: 3).

    The panel also contributes to the theme of ‘Public management’, by focussing on the EU’s efforts to promote public sector reforms in CEE and EaP partner countries. The EU has made ‘good governance’ a leading principle in its efforts to promote political reforms in Central and Eastern Europe. The administrations in CEE, however, face a significant challenges adopting and developing the EU’s rules for high quality public management. By focusing on the different mechanisms through which these rules can be transferred and implemented, especially in times of crisis, this panel will also highlight new approaches to achieve high quality of public management in CEE and ENP countries, such as hybrid solutions and reciprocal learning.

Topics of papers that can be submitted 
This Panel aims to provide a context which facilitates the reflection upon the enablers and disablers of sustainable political and administrative reform. The contributions will draw on a mix of methodologies, including qualitative and quantitative analysis, focus groups, discourse analysis, and legal analysis. Contributions may offer country-specific or cross-country, issue-based or comparative empirical assessments.

Contact person:Toon Kerkhoff (UL),

Chairs and organizers: 
Toon Kerkhoff (UL),
Andrei Poama (UL),
Hester Paanakker (RU),

Description and proposed theme:  
The moral quality of governance is a topic of much attention in PA studies. This is the result of individual transgressions as well as more structural wrongs in politics, policy and public administration. Questions of good governance focus on (anti-) corruption, public integrity and public value(s) as well as the morality of public ethical decision-making given the distribution of limited resources in controversial policy areas. As a result of the public sector’s complexity and variety, scholars and practitioners diverge on the design, implementation and corresponding decision-making procedures pertaining to public policy. Equally, there is discussion on important ethical questions about individual and/or professional behavior.

Topics of papers that can be submitted 

We welcome a variety of approaches: papers can be mono-, or multi-disciplinary, more theoretically or empirically focused, quantitative, qualitative or both. For this panel we invite papers that – each in their own way – revolve around the central problem of good governance, loosely organized around two main themes:

Theme 1: (Anti-)corruption, (lacking) Integrity and (conflicting) Public Values

Papers can address issues of (anti-)corruption and (lacking) integrity, for example on problems or opportunities with regard to the existence, functioning and management of integrity and anti-corruption efforts on an international, national, organizational and individual level. In addition, papers can elaborate on complexities as a result of conflicting values (for example due to public/private interaction). Papers can be empirical (e.g. case-studies on actual behavior, integrity management, values, etc.) or theoretical/conceptual.

Theme 2: Morality of ethical decision-making

Papers can address the ethics of decision-making at the level of policy design and policy implementation. Papers can examine questions that deal with morally difficult decisions as considered from the standpoint of individual public officials (moral trade-offs or moral dilemmas – e.g., dirty hands problems), the morality of settling disagreements about controversial public policy areas, as well as decisions and decision-making procedures for allocating moral responsibility in cases of wrong-doing by public officials or other government representatives.

If you are in doubt whether your idea fits, please do not hesitate to contact us!

The working language of the panel will be English, but papers can also be written and/or presented in Dutch.

Contact person: Hans Vollaard, Utrecht University School of Governance, the Netherlands,

Chairs and organizers: 
Marcel Boogers, Twente University,
Hans Vollaard, Utrecht University School of Governance,

Description and proposed theme:  
In many western countries, local and regional governments received more competences as part of various waves of decentralization after the past decades. National governments presented these decentralisations as a means to enhance democracy through decision-making closer to the people, while strengthening policy effectiveness as local and regional governments are said to better placed to provide tailor-made service delivery. As a result, formal-constitutional arrangements have been complemented by less formal, less constitutionally anchored regional governance ecosystems. In the meantime, local and regional governments also play an increasing role in implementing UN and EU initiatives regarding climate change, sustainable development, social inclusion, economic development, and nature conservation.

To deliver democratic and effective rule, individual local and regional governments often depend on many other actors, however. They have to cooperate with private landowners, health providers, local business, universities, fellow governments, and other stakeholders in a myriad of local and regional networks to make things happen. Moreover, they still face financial and legal constraints from the national, European or international level. To some extent, local and regional governance networks involving public and private actors from various levels is nothing new. For centuries, local and regional governments relied on regional nobility, local churches, and regional industries for spatial planning, social assistance, and economic development. The recent waves of decentralization and the growing policy demands from European and international levels have made policy-making more challenging. How can individual citizens and their representatives (elected and non-elected) still effectively shape policies affecting them? And how can policies still be effective when so many actors with just as many preferences have to be taken into account in decision-making and implementation? There seems to be an emerging consensus that the big social, spatial and economic questions of our time can best be addressed at the regional level. If that is the case, to what extent can these grand challenges at the regional level better be addressed in a more sectoral, problem-driven way, or in a more integral, area-driven way? What role is there for regional and local identity and identification as a driving or hampering factor for successful governance?

Thus, the organization and functioning of multilevel local and regional governance networks is the core theme of this panel, with a special focus on their democratic nature and effectiveness. As part of the NIG Research Colloquium Multi-level Democracy, this panel thus brings scholars from a various background together to study local and regional networks, in order to assess the quality of decentralized democracy and policy effectiveness in the era of multi-level governance. The focus will be both on individual actors and institutions such as mayors, civil service, councils, citizens, local business, and regional NGOs as well as on local and regional governance systems as a whole.

Topics of papers that can be submitted 
We welcome papers on multilevel governance at the local and regional level addressing themes such as the functioning of policy networks, regional governance ecosystems, intergovernmental cooperation, the adaptation to globalization, the goals (un)met of decentralization, and the quality of both representative and participatory democracy. As said, they can both focus on individual actors and institutions such as local and regional council members, voters, neighbourhood associations, local civil society, and regional media as well as assessment of governance systems as a whole, both from empirical and normative perspective. 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 local and regional governance.

Contact persons: Tom Overmans (Utrecht University) & Eduard Schmidt (Leiden University), /

Description and proposed theme: 
The topic of public value has been on the research agenda since the seminal work by Moore (1995), yet little papers are based on empirical research (Hartley et al., 2017). Many public organization are, after years of austerity related changes (Overmans, 2019; Schmidt & Groeneveld, 2019), redirecting their focus to creating and increasing their public value. Public organizations, in this regard, are increasingly looking for ways to organize public service delivery differently, with a clear focus on their organizational purpose (Adler and Heckscher, 2019). Recent controversies in the Dutch public sector, such as the tax office scandal and problems in different executive agencies, make this topic relevant from both a scientific, as well as a societal point of view.

Changing public organizations to value-driven organizations that put public value first can be difficult. Classic bureaucratic characteristics such as standardization and formalization help to ensure righteousness of decision-making and equal treatment of citizens. At the same time, an abundance of rules and procedures may result in red-tape. In such situations, rules may become burdensome and provide barriers to what the organization actually wants to achieve (Feeney & DeHart-Davis, 2009), thus inhibiting public value. NPM-inspired organizational features such as performance management regimes may also put pressure on the purpose of public organizations. Performance management indicators are often focused on achieving efficient service-delivery, yet a too narrow focus on performance indicators may result in losing sight on what public value can and should be created. This has been described as hitting the target while missing the point. Public organizations, therefore, are looking for new, value- and purpose driven ways of working, budgeting, organizing, managing and accounting.

Such a new focus warrants public administration studies that contribute to our understanding of how public organizations (can) create public value. In particular, studies are needed on how to create public value in collaborative settings (Crosby et al., 2017), what role leadership plays in creating public value (Hartley et al., 2018), what organizational and institutional changes are needed to facilitate public value creation (Mintrom & Luetjens, 2017), and how public value relates to appearances of public budgeting and (financial) accountability (Bracci et al., 2019).

Topics of papers that can be submitted

  • Public value budgeting
  • Public value accounting
  • Public value and leadership
  • Red tape and public values
  • Public value and street-level bureaucrats/public professional
  • Public value failure and successes
  • Collaborative attempts to create public value
  • Creating public value through developments in ICT
  • Organizational change and redesign needed to create public value
  • Public value creation through public procurement
  • Organizational purpose and public value
  • For this panel, we especially welcome empirical papers, using quantitative and qualitative (or mixed) methods, but are also open for original conceptual work. While the aim is to discuss well-established papers, the panel is explicitly open to presentations by (junior) faculty on ongoing research projects as long as there is a robust research plan containing a research question, sound theoretical base and elaborated methods. For this panel, we do not accept papers that are in or past the Revise & Resubmit phase of submission at a journal. (“We don’t accept accepted papers”).

Contact person: Julia Penning de Vries, Utrecht University School of Governance, The Netherlands,

Chairs and organizers: 
Dr. Tanachia Ashikali, Leiden University,
Dr. Julia Penning de Vries, Utrecht University,
Dr. Brenda Vermeeren, Erasmus University Rotterdam,

Description and proposed theme:  

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., 2020; 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.

The COVID-19 pandemic also creates several challenges for managing and leading employees. For instance, 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 (see Kniffin et al., 2020). 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?

Topics of papers that can be submitted
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.

Contact person: Lars Brummel, Utrecht University, the Netherlands (

Chairs and organizers: 
Madalina Busuioc, Leiden University, (
Thomas Schillemans, Utrecht University, (
Lars Brummel, Utrecht University, (
Benjamin Tida, Leiden University, (
Thijs de Boer, Leiden University, (
Marija Aleksovska, Utrecht University, (

Description and proposed theme:  
Over the last decades, public accountability has grown out to become one of the major concepts in the fields of public administration and political science. Accountability is seen as a crucial aspect of ‘good governance’ and is associated with many other appealing concepts, such as transparency, responsiveness and efficiency. Public accountability has often been studied in relation to European and multi-level governance, independent agencies, policy networks, horizontal governance arrangements, public-private partnerships and forms of coproduction. 

This panel aims to connect researchers that work on innovative and cutting-edge research within the broad field of public accountability. We will be welcoming papers that contribute to classical debates in the accountability literature and that focus on the long-lasting and dominant themes in our field, but are also interested in research that sheds light on new developments with regard to accountability in modern governance. For example, the current COVID-19 crisis poses radical challenges to governments and thus also raises new questions and dilemmas about public accountability in times of crisis. Meanwhile, the rapid digitalization and algorithmization of state and society come with new forms of accountability and new challenges to accountability. In the academic literature, new perspectives on accountability are emerging that address these questions and provide additional insights into “traditional” debates about public accountability.

Next to classical topics and traditional themes in the accountability literature, this panel will particularly focus upon these three important (new) themes: 

  1. How to make public accountability work (in times of crisis),
  2. Accountability in the digital age and,
  3. New accountability perspectives.  

How to make public accountability work (in times of crisis)? 
An important question in the academic literature has been how to make public accountability work in practice. Many agree that public accountability is normatively desirable, for instance by contributing to democratic control, preventing corruption and stimulating organisational learning. Holding public officials accountable however comes with many challenges. Studies have discussed accountability failures and scholars are concerned about both accountability deficits and overloads. Yet, we still lack detailed insights about “successful” cases of accountability and our field would benefit from more in-depth knowledge about the underlying causality of accountability mechanisms (Aleksovska et al., 2019). As such, research could contribute to aligning accountability practices with the demands of today’s public sector and society in order to achieve desirable outcomes.

A proper functioning of accountability is already difficult to achieve under settled conditions, but even more so during times of crises such as the global COVID-19 pandemic. Major crises provide a challenge to the capacity and effectiveness, but also to the legitimacy and accountability of governments (Christensen et al., 2016). At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, governments had to take far-reaching decisions under high time constraints and great uncertainty. As most governments strongly relied upon scientific knowledge of expert-led agencies, this also spurred debates about the democratic accountability of governmental decision-making during the pandemic (Van Dooren & Noordegraaf, 2020). Furthermore, crises evoke strong debates about who should be held responsible and guilty for the collective harm of a crisis. Post-crisis accountability is normatively important for truth-finding, justifying and excusing conduct and voicing victims’ grievances (Bovens, 2007). In practice, crisis-induced accountability processes however often tend to be very political and adversarial in nature and have been associated with blame games (Kuipers & ‘t Hart, 2014). During the pandemic, various governments have been exposed to intense public scrutiny and societal criticisms about their lockdown policies – from both state and non-state actors. This panel welcomes contributions that reflect upon these and other questions with regard to accountable crisis management during the Covid-19 crisis, or other crises, and that draw lessons from these experiences for future crisis events.

Accountability in the digital age 
Transformations in state and society often stimulate new forms of accountability, while simultaneously raising accountability concerns. Many new forms of accountability rely on innovations in digital technologies (Vanhommerig & Karré, 2014). Research at the interface of technology and accountability has therefore seen a steady rise over the last decades. While early studies examined websites and publishing information online, researchers’ focus has broadened in parallel with the development of the internet (e.g., social media, big data, algorithms, etc.). The general pattern emerging from this body of research is that the role of new technologies in promoting transparency and accountability in Western democracies is still modest, at best, while some authors also point to the possibility of adverse effects. Examples of adverse effects include the misinterpretation of performance information generated with “big data” (Lavertu, 2016) or how accountability on social media is biased towards undemocratic values (Ojala, Pantii, & Laaksonen, 2019).

Simultaneously, the rise of new technologies in governance raises important and pressing questions from an accountability perspective. Among others, the growing reliance on (artificial intelligence) algorithms is emerging as a major area of interest for accountability scholars – as well as for public administration scholars more broadly (Busuioc, 2020). In the Netherlands, we have seen several cases where algorithms are becoming the growing focus of attention for institutions of accountability in their oversight roles – both at the local level (Rekenkamer Rotterdam, 2021) and the national level (Algemene Rekenkamer, 2021) – and a debate has sparked about how the use of algorithms by the Dutch government should be regulated (Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens, 2020). Such cases reveal that there is a pressing need for scientific studies that shed light on issues of oversight over the design and implementation of algorithms in the public sector, outline how and when algorithmic transparency can protect the public interest, propose initiatives for the responsible use of algorithms in the public sector, identify lacunas in regulation, and assist policymakers with designing effective oversight institutions. This panel particularly welcomes contributions focusing on these, and related, questions that examine how new technologies impact public accountability.

New accountability perspectives
Most of the, nowadays extensive, accountability literature focuses on formal-legal provisions and how they affect accountability. However, various new perspectives have recently entered the stage highlighting how actual accountability outcomes are not only dependent on formal-legal provisions, but also how account-givers and account-holders come to internalise, use, and interpret such provisions. Among such new perspectives are reputation-based approaches to accountability, which argue that actual accountability outcomes are co-produced by account-holding forums and account-giving actors, whose organisational behaviours are driven by reputational incentives (Busuioc & Lodge, 2017). Another strand of new accountability perspectives focuses on individual (rather than organisational) behaviour, drawing on social psychology insights (e.g. Tetlock, 1992) that show individuals to perceive identical accountability situations differently, and thus also behaving differently in the face of identical demands and expectations. “Felt accountability” (Overman et. al., 2020) has for example recently been proposed as a concept that can be used to explain individual accountability behaviour, and thus in extension also public accountability outcomes. This panel particularly welcomes contributions that apply such new perspectives in order to rethink classic accountability debates, to explain actual accountability behaviour, or to predict the outcomes of accountability arrangements.

Topics of papers that can be submitted 
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 network analyses, social media analyses, etc.).

Paper topics include, but are not limited to: 

  1. Studies explaining when and why public sector organizations seek/avoid accountability; 
  2. Studies dealing with conflicting accountability expectations and how public sector organizations cope with them;  
  3. Studies focused on explaining forum behaviour (e.g. forum drift, account-holding intensity, et cetera); 
  4. Studies that provide insight into organizational behaviour linked to accountability (e.g., presentational strategies, blame strategies, public communication management, reputation management, legitimization, etc.);
  5. Studies that provide insight into individual behaviour linked to accountability (e.g. felt accountability and other social psychological approaches); 
  6. Normative studies focussed on the effects of accountability to society on democracy (e.g. public trust, principal control and legitimacy);
  7. Studies focusing on issues of accountability during crisis governance and/or reflecting upon crisis accountability during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  8. Studies on online accountability practices (e.g., social media);
  9. Studies dealing with accountability and algorithms.

Contact person: Jolien Grandia,

Chairs and organizers: 
Jolien Grandia, 
Sandra van Thiel, 
Bert George, 
Koen Migchelbrink,

Description and proposed theme: 
Public management has traditionally been divided into internal and external management. With internal management focusing on the internal structuring of public organizations, strategies, and instruments that contribute to the optimization of organizational performance. Alternatively, external management has traditionally focused 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. With the emergence of new public governance, the emergence of new technologies and the professionalization and maturation of business processes (e.g. procurement and HR) internal and external management could and should work together to achieve public value (Bryson et al., 2014; Moore, 1995; O’Flynn, 2007)

Internal management plays an important role in the creation of public value. Government procurement of goods and services can 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).

The public management literature demonstrates that external management processes also play a role in the creation of public value. Public value creation is not limited to government and public organizations only. How governments structure and organize collaboration with (semi)public organizations, NGOs, SOCs, and even private enterprises can affect the public value creation and safeguarding of public interests by these organizations (Andrews et al., 2011; Moulton, 2009). Similarly, governments use citizen-state contacts such as participation and collaboration to inform public policy and services decisions (Amirkhanyan & Lambright, 2018). Public participation and coproduction can contribute in the creation of public value as well (Bryson et al., 2017; Osborne, 2020). In short, the design external management processes at the macro, meso, and micro level also impact on public value creation.

Against this background, we invite contributions that help close the gap between internal and external management for the purpose of achieving public value. 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 of internal and external management in the creation of public value. The panel invites both experienced and junior researchers to submit theory-based and methodologically sound contributions.

Topics of papers that can be submitted 
We invite authors to submit empirical and theoretical research that links internal and external management for the achievement of public value. We also invite authors to submit papers containing their research design (containing the introduction, theory, and methodology) on one of these topics. Expected/Example topics:

  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 workforce.
  2. Collaborative HRM strategies focused on achieving societal value by empowering and enabling people to diminish the distance to the labour market
  3. The use of e-government and technologies for citizen and stakeholder participation
  4. Social media/communication strategies for citizen and stakeholder

Contact person: Dr. Ingmar van Meerkerk, Department of Public Administration and Sociology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands,

Chairs and organizers: 
Dr. Ingmar van Meerkerk,
Dr. Merlijn van Hulst,
Dr. Stefan Verweij,
Prof. dr. Jurian Edelenbos,

Description and proposed theme:  
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), intergovernmental cooperation (Fuglister, 2012), triple and quadruple helix cooperation (Leydesdorff, & Etzkowitz, 1996), interactive governance and community engagement (Torfing et al., 2012; Edelenbos and Van Meerkerk, 2016; Blijleven & van Hulst, 2021). What these forms all 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 public management and governance. However, due to a changing role of governments and 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.

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 kind of individual and team competences and characteristics are important for spanning boundaries and coping with boundary spanning challenges?
  2. What are key challenges and tensions in boundary spanning practices and how do different professionals cope/deal with these challenges and tensions?
  3. What are organizational and contextual factors and barriers influencing the effectiveness of spanning boundaries?
  4. What is the impact of various kinds of boundary work on cross-boundary collaboration and performance?
  • What are the elements of effective boundary spanning practices in particular working environments? 

Type of papers that can be submitted 
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. Papers should be written in English and should not exceed 9.000 words (including abstract and references).

Contact person: Nadine Raaphorst, Institute of Public Administration, FGGA, Leiden University (

Chairs and organizers: 
Noortje de Boer, Utrecht University (
Lieke Oldenhof, Erasmus University (
Nadine Raaphorst, Leiden University (

Description and proposed theme:  
Street-level professionals, such as social workers, police officers, nurses or teachers, often determine what, how and to whom public services are delivered while operating in uncertain and complex environments. These environments are increasingly inter-organizational in nature and encompass contradictory developments such as digitalization, citizen co-production, regulatory pressure and responsive lawmaking.  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 of the citizen-clients which street-level professionals  face (Lipsky, 2010). Moreover, policies often involve terms deliberately left open or vague for street-level professionals to interpret (Linthorst and 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; Oldenhof et al. 2014; Raaphorst et al., 2018; Zacka, 2017).  

Moreover, in order to deal with societal challenges street-level professionals increasingly collaborate across organisational 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 received or services, but are active actors who contribute to this process (Nielsen et al., 2021; Oldenhof and Linthorst forthcoming 2021). 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 professional and citizen (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 professional and the citizen-clients.

Lastly, the roles of street-level professionals as decision-makers has 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 professional and citizen 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. 

Topics of papers that can be submitted 
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 making. 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 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.

Contact person: Rowie Huijbregts, Department of Public Governance and Management, Ghent University,

Chairs and organizers: 
Rowie Huijbregts, Ghent University,
William Voorberg, Erasmus University Rotterdam,
Bert George, Ghent University,

Description and proposed theme:  
The concept of public values is at the heart of political science, policy sciences, public administration and public management (Bozeman 2007; Moore 1995; van der Wal, Nabatchi, and de Graaf 2015). Central to scholarly debates in these fields is reflection on the principles that governments should act upon, or, in other words, reflection on finding a normative consensus on the values that governments should uphold. Taking  into account the long history of scholarly debate about public values, there is  renewed attention for the concept, prompted by paradigmatic changes under the heading of the post-New Public Management era (cf., Bryson, Crosby, and Bloomberg 2014).

Politicians, policymakers and public managers must balance different, inevitably conflicting public values during policymaking, policy implementation and policy evaluation. This practice may be defined as public values assessment, and involves identifying, reflecting and deciding on public values, performed for given policy issues (Huijbregts, George, and Bekkers 2021). Hence, public values assessment is something people do, depending on  the policy context they are in or the given policy issue they are confronted with.

Traditionally, public values scholarship  has  focused on  more universal  or  core    values inherent to government and the public sector, such as the rule of law, policy  effectiveness, policy efficiency, accountability, equity, democracy, neutrality, etc. (cf.,  Beck Jørgensen and Bozeman 2007). Recently, it is argued that although such public values classifications help to organize and study public values, there is still a fundamental problem in public values scholarship labelled as the identification problem (Fukumoto and Bozeman 2019): the notion that there is no agreement among scholars as to the identification and assessment of public values in concrete empirical settings. Central to the identification problem is the following: public values scholarship focuses often on core values that appear to have a universal character, yet, public values in empirical settings are embedded in contexts, i.e., context-specific, and more detailed. In short, it remains largely unexamined in concrete empirical settings how consensus about what public  values are in that specific setting is obtained. Moreover, what this consensus in turn ‘looks like’, that is, which public values are actually elicited and in what form, is  largely unknown.

Hence, in this panel, we invite research related to the practice of public values assessment in public governance and management. As such, the panel aims to connect different ideas on how public values are (or need to be) assessed in concrete empirical settings, and, hence, look beyond the more classic notions of public values.

Topics of papers that can be submitted 
This panel adopts a variety of research papers and methods (quantitative, qualitative) that empirically examine (or theoretically reflect on) practices of public values assessment in whichever policy context or empirical setting. This call may also include papers focusing  on a specific aspect of public values assessment, for example, the involved   stakeholders, the used valuation tools and the employed processes.

In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has fueled debate about which values governments should uphold. The values trade-off of healthcare, economic prosperity, and individual freedom of citizens is at the heart of heated discussions that take place in government buildings, at kitchen tables, and during street protests worldwide. Normative consensus  on the trade-off of healthcare, economic prosperity, and individual freedom of citizens seems impossible when taking into account conceptions of the preferable of all politicians, healthcare providers, entrepreneurs, and citizens – being young, old, healthy,   vulnerable– combined. Possibly the Covid-19 pandemic provides for a vivid illustration of the practice of public values assessment, and we thus welcome papers on this topic.

Contact person: Bjorn Kleizen,

Chairs and organizers: 
Madalina Busuioc, Leiden University,
Wouter Van Dooren, University of Antwerp,

Description and proposed theme:  
Advances in data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and information technology (IT) offer new opportunities for governments worldwide. AI-based data analytics are increasingly unleashed on the large-scale datasets that governments possess. In the process, “AI transforms public services” (European Commission 2018, 1). Such developments come with the promise of better tailored public services to citizen needs, efficiency gains and/or better risk and resource prioritization.

Simultaneously, the rise of data analytics also introduces important ethical and political dilemmas. Data analytics capabilities can have a fundamental impact on existing governance practices, accountability arrangements, and sound governance principles (e.g. Busuioc, 2020). Issues such as limited levels of data and technological literacy may exacerbate information asymmetries between developers and various internal and external accountability forums (Overton & Kleinschmidt, 2021). This may render some checks and balances ineffective, calling into question how accountability should be reconfigured in the digital age to ensure its resilience. Failing data analytics may also affect (citizen) trust in technology and in government, more broadly. Low trust, in turn, may diminish the capability of governments to act and, therefore, wipe out the efficiency gains governments pursued when they initiated data analytics.

Examples of failing checks and balances have emerged, resulting in potentially discriminatory or disproportionate practices. In the SyRI case, the district court of The Hague ruled that legislation underpinning fraud detection in a network of governments in the area of social benefits, allowances and tax data was a breach of privacy (Meuwese, 2020). Governments used data analytics in specific, relatively disadvantaged neighborhoods, potentially introducing the risk of discrimination against inhabitants of neighborhoods with a lower socio-economic status (Leijten, 2020). In another highly salient case, the Dutch tax office relied on a self-learning risk classification system to assess childcare benefit applications (Dutch Data Protection Authority, 2020). This algorithm, among other things, used nationality as an indicator, contributing to a broader crisis in which thousands of dual nationality families were wrongfully and discriminatorily accused of fraud (Parlementaire Ondervragingscommissie Kinderopvangtoeslag, 2020).

Such examples show that the challenges inherent to introducing, managing and controlling data analytical techniques in government are not theoretical scenarios but impactful phenomena demanding the attention of both practitioners and public administration scholars. The question of how to stimulate responsible and accountable use of data analytics, balance public values, and achieve an ecosystem in which data analytics can be trusted has become a critical societal topic.

This panel brings together research on (citizen) trust in governmental data analytics, the ethical, transparent and trustworthy design of data analytics processes, accountability in the digital age and how governments should balance public values trade-offs when applying data analytics. In doing so, it aims to advance the essential debate on the emerging societal and governance challenges of incorporating advanced and sometimes black-box analytical tools in a public sector context.

Topics of papers that can be submitted 
We invite contributions dealing with the societal, governance and political challenges introduced by the rise of data analytics in the public sector. Given this inherently interdisciplinary topic, the panel welcomes both submissions from public administration scholars and submissions from scholars in other relevant disciplines.

Data analytics can refer to technologies such as AI, non-AI algorithms, data-gathering and big data. It encompasses both systems that are fully automated or support decisions in different forms.

Examples of relevant topics include:

  1. The changing relationship between governments and citizens (e.g. the dynamics between privacy, citizen trust and transparency);
  2. Checks and balances and accountability arrangements in the digital age (e.g. emerging accountability deficits; how accountability forums can provide meaningful oversight);
  3. The governance aspects of maintaining ethical and trustworthy data analytics in government (e.g. preventing biases and model drift, transparency, data security, upholding good governance principles, etc.);
  4. Value-based and ethical considerations pertaining to the use of technologies such as specific AI tools and the gathering of certain types of data (e.g. the appropriateness of facial recognition systems in the public sector or the balance between efficiency and broader public values);
  5. The rise of AI-informed decision-making in the public sector and cognitive decision-maker biases that might arise in this respect (e.g. automation bias);
  6. Data- and technology-sharing between public entities or between public and private entities (e.g. tensions arising between the proprietary nature of private provider algorithms and transparency and disclosure requirements in public services);
  7. The implementation of legal and regulatory requirements (e.g. issues related to GDPR, the right to privacy, other fundamental rights and the recently proposed EU AI Regulation);
  8. Other topics focusing on the challenges that public sector data analytics presents for citizens, governance and politics are also welcome.  

Contact person: dr. Lisanne de Blok, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands,

Chairs and organizers: 
dr. Lisanne de Blok, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,
Dominika Proszowska, University of Twente,
prof. dr. Peter Bursens, University of Antwerp, Belgium,

Description and proposed theme:  
Contemporary governments are rarely monoliths. They usually comprise of a multitiude 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, the 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.

Topics of papers that can be submitted 
We invite papers focusing on trust, accountability and legitimacy, 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 the 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. The 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


NIG members (PhD or senior) pay nothing to participate in the conference, non-members are asked to pay a small fee (125,- for participants from member institutions, 175,- for all others).