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Managing public organizations and employees in a challenging environment


Short course description: Successfully managing public organizations and employees has always been crucial for good public service delivery. However, in times of – for instance – societal, socio-cultural, economic, and technological changes, public organizations and their managers need to adjust their management strategies so that good public service delivery persists. In this course, we identify changes that are relevant to public service provision in various contexts (e.g., educational, health and security sector), and discuss what these changes mean to successful management of public organizations and employees from a macro, meso and micro perspective.   


17, 18 and 19 January 2023

Registration is currently closed

Utrecht School of Governance Utrecht University
Bijlhouwerstraat 6-8 
3511 ZC Utrecht


Dr Brenda Vermeeren, Erasmus University Rotterdam:

Dr Carina Schott, Utrecht University:

Guest speakers:

Prof. dr Bert George, City University of Hongkong

Prof. dr Sandra Groeneveld, Leiden University

Prof. dr Eva Knies, Utrecht University

Dr Peter Kruyen, Radboud University

Dr Wouter Vandenabeele, Utrecht University, KU Leuven

Course fees

  • Free for NIG members
  • 500,- for non-members from an NIG member institution
  • 750,- for third parties

The course is organized as follows:

Day 1 (Macro): Public Management in a Societal Context: a work and personnel perspective

  • Morning: We identify and discuss contextual changes that challenge the management of public sector organizations and what these challenges imply for managing work and personnel.
  • Afternoon: Together with Wouter Vandenabeele, we discuss the institutional context of public organization and how it shapes the management of public organizations in general and work and personnel in particular.


Day 2 (Meso): Management of Public Sector Organizations

  • Morning: Together with Bert George, we discuss how strategic management (in general and subsequently with a focus on human resource management) can contribute to public service delivery in times of changes/a challenging environment.
  • Afternoon: Together with Eva Knies, we discuss how people management can contribute to public service delivery in times of changes/a challenging environment.


Day 3 (Micro): Managing Public Servants

  • Morning: We discuss the distinctiveness of public servants in terms of their motivations/values/needs and together with Peter Kruyen we dive into the characteristics and required competences of civil servants.
  • Afternoon: We discuss specific management approaches that take into account these specificities of public servants. Together with Sandra Groeneveld, we will zoom in on diversity management. We will conclude the course by looking at your final assignments together with a communications advisor. Among other things, we will look at which channel is suitable for which message and how to deal with reactions to your media statements.



Students are asked before the start of the course to think about (global) trends/changes/developments that have an impact on their doctoral research using the contextually based human resource framework (Paauwe & Boselie, 2000, 2002). We will use this preparation during the course to come up with a list of changes that are relevant for the management of public organizations in general and work and personnel in particular. In addition, the guest speakers will select one or a few articles to read beforehand. The preparation will take about one day.



Together with a student from another university, you choose a public subsector of your interest (e.g., public administration (central, regional or local), healthcare, education, security). Together you identify a contextual challenge that is relevant for the public subsector of your choice. Use at least one of the core themes of this course and analyze how the management of public organizations needs to respond to this contextual challenge so that good public service provision is ensured. Translate the findings from your critical analysis into a practical media product such as a short video documentary, a podcast or a blog. On the last day of the course, we will pay attention to converting your findings during the course into an appropriate media expression. A communication advisor will share hands-on tips.