Research & team

My research covers a range of public administration and public management topics, but in all of these, tensions between bureaucracy and democracy take a central role. Below are some recent projects.

Current PhD students

  • Zejin Liu – policy instrument choice in government non-profit relations
  • Amandine Lerusse – public sector collaboration with private actors (H2020-Tropico)
  • Maurits van Leeuwen – understanding service sabotage in the public sector

Former team members

  • Koen Migchelbrink, now assistant professor, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Dr. Eduard Schmidt, now assistant professor, Leiden University
  • Dr. Shelena Keulemans, now assistant professor, Radboud University
  • Dr. Ziya Aliyev, anti-Fraud Innovation Lab & managing partner TukTuk
  • Dr. Jean-Pierre Thomassen, management consultant and lecturer University of Groningen
  • Dr. Nadine Raaphorst, now assistant professor, Leiden University
  • Dr. Stéphane Moyson, now assistant professor, UC Louvain-Mons
  • Dr. Sebastian Jilke, now associate professor, Georgetown University
  • Dr. Iris Korthagen, now senior researcher, Algemene Rekenkamer
  • Dr. Dion Curry, now senior lecturer, at Swansea University
  • Dr. Kim Loyens, now assistant professor, Utrecht University
  • Steven Van Roosbroeck, now Manager-auditor, Audit Vlaanderen


How policy-makers use uncertainty information: An empirical study of
civic epistemologies: Uncertainty constitutes a major challenge for policy makers to act on scientific evidence but little is known about the effects of uncertainty communication on evidence use. This project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between scholars in epistemology, public management, and evidence-informed policy making. Using Jasanoff´s concept of civic epistemologies, we empirically test how the expression of uncertainty and the format of uncertainty communication affect the use of such evidence by policy makers, and how this is moderated by the magnitude of uncertainty. We use cutting-edge research methods, such as eye-tracking and simulations of opinion dynamics, which have only seldom been applied in the context of evidence utilization.

CITADEL(H2020) – Empowering Citizens to Transform European Public Administrations. In the CITADEL project we study civil servants´willingness to engage with citizens. We use survey vignettes to study design features of participation modes.

TROPICO (H2020) – Transforming into Open, Innovative and cropped-TROPICO_header_blueCollaborative GovernmentsTROPICO is an international research consortium investigating how public administrations are transformed to enhane collaboration in policy design and service delivery, advancing the participation of public, private and societal actors. The Leuven team will look at collaborative behaviours of civil servants.

cocopsCoordinating for Cohesion in the Public Sector of the Future. The COCOPS project (2011-2014) was funded under the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme. I coordinated this 11-university consortium to study the impact of NPM-style reforms in European public administrations.

Public officials’ trust in citizens and the socialisation of new recruits. The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded me a 800,000 EUR personal VIDI grant to study public officials’ trust in citizens in three countries.  We look at levels and determinants of officials’ trust in citizens, in three countries. The project will combine a multilevel design (officials in offices) with a panel study (socialisation effects). More information here

Explaining cutback management strategies in public sector organisations. Funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Research talent Grant. This project uses a change management perspective to analyse public-private differences in cutback management.

Older projects

Public attitudes towards public services and public opinion towards the public sector. In this research we look at determinants of citizen attitudes towards the public sector, and at measurement issues. Special attention goes to attitudes towards (liberalised) services of general interest. Previous research includes attitudes towards local government, confidence in the justice system and satisfaction surveys in government.

Trust in government. We are looking at drivers of citizen trust in government, and at longitudinal trends in trust. This line of research is furthermore looking at differences across countries, and at measurement issues. Some specific areas of current research include differences between active trust and active distrust, and question order effects. Data and questionnaires from the Belgian trust project (‘Werken aan de Overheid’) are available here.

Trust in the police. A project funded by the Dutch programme ‘Politie en Wetenschap’. We analyse survey material on public trust in the police in the Netherlands.

Measuring and comparing public sector performance, with a focus on conceptual issues and behavioural responses. Specific research includes the use of governance indicators to assess the quality of public sectors, international comparisons of public performance, and the causes and effects of performance ranking schemes

Privacy in government data. An analysis of access to (National) Electronic Patient Records, through an international comparison of regulation, and an analysis of access practices and audit procedures at local level.

Social justice in the allocation of scarce public services. Building on the work of Jon Elster and others, we are looking at the mechanisms used to allocate scarce public services in real-life policy settings. Through a combination of vignettes and surveys (planned for late 2010), we are looking at the factors determining whether or not certain mechanisms are seen as  just in a specific service delivery context. The case is the allocation of child care places in the Rotterdam area.

Diversity and representative bureaucracy, and more specifically multilingualism in public services, with a focus on multilingual practices at street level.

Secondary interests include citizen charters, quality management, administrative history, administrative discretion and citizen participation.