The end of the civil servant stereotype

This week’s Intermediair features an article on the future of work in the public sector, for which I was interviewed (in Dutch).

“The context in which policy- and coordinating civil servants typically work, has become extremely dynamic, both within their organization and in the broader policy field”, says, Caspar van den Berg, associate professor International Governance at the Leiden University and co-author of the book Koers houden in turbulentie, de rol van de overheid of het gebied van infrastuctuur en milieu internationaal vergeleken. “Public sector organizations are forced to take on a more flexible approach and work together more with partners in their networks in order to reach decisions and to make policies. At the same time, pressure for high performance among civil servants, through cutback operations and an increase in performance contracts has unequivocally increased.”

“The demand for data-scientists in the public sector is only going to increase, is Van den Berg’s expectation: “The present big data-revolution is in some ways comparable to the advent of statistic around 1900. Large datasets make is possible to develop policies more quickly and make policy more focused. However, for the coordinating civil servant I do not see drastic changes for the near future. A part is his profession, such as preparing parliamentary meetings, will remained unchanged for the near future.”image001

Veni grant

Press release by Leiden University, Campus Den Haag:

Veni grant for Caspar van den Berg

Caspar van den Berg, researcher and Assistant Professor at the Institute of Public Administration, has been awarded a prestigious Veni grant of 250,000 euros from the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NOW) for his international comparative research on politicization of top civil servants.

NWO announced this today. Van den Berg is “incredibly happy” with the award, which allows him to devote the large majority of his time to scientific research for the next four years.

In the study, he focuses on whether a strong political influence on the work of top civil servants has a positive effect on policy and administration, or if  a neutral and impartial top civil service leads to more effective governance. How can we explain the fact that civil servants in some countries and policy sectors are more strongly politicized than in others? These questions emerged from his doctoral research “Transforming for Europe: The reshaping of national bureaucracies in a system of multi-level governance”, which was awarded the Van Poelje Prize in 2013.

The NWO grant will enable Van den Berg to systematically examine these questions in a comparative study in 14 countries in Europe, North America and East Asia.

The NWO awards Veni grants each year to outstanding young researchers.


Winning the Van Poelje Prize!

DSC_4770 - versie 2Last week I received the Van Poelje Annual Prize for best PhD dissertation in Public Administration and Policy Sciences. The prize is awarded by the Vereniging voor Bestuurskunde. A great honor and recognition! The jury selected a short list of four dissertations out of 29 nominated dissertations that were defended in The Netherlands and Flanders in 2011, and awarded the prize to Hylke Dijkstra, and myself. The prize was awarded during a festive ceremony in Utrecht on February 28th.

The prize is named after Gerrit Abraham van Poelje (1884 – 1976), who was one of the founders of Public Administration as an academic discipline in The Netherlands. In 1928 he held the first Chair in Public Administration at the Dutch Economic Institute in Rotterdam.


Winning the prize is an additional encouragement to replicate the 2007 survey among top civil servants in The Netherlands and Britain. When the new data are gathered and analyzed , I’m hoping to publish a second edition of my 2011 book Transforming for Europe, The Reshaping of National Bureaucracies in a System of Multi-level Governance (see here).

The complete jury report (in Dutch) can be found here.

The Leiden University press release (in Dutch) can be found here.

Blended learning, the way forward in higher education

Blended-learning-methodologOver the past months, I’ve been working with our team at the Leiden University Centre for Innovation on a pilot project to introduce Blended Learning into our regular course teaching. While MOOCs may seem to be conquering the world (and in a way they truly are), the possibilities that new technology and learning activities are offering will potentially also teaching within universities as we know. I want to share some really  interesting blog posts on this issue with you here, written by Kerry Best from Cisco and hope to post more on my own experiences so far with designing and implementing blended learning in the next days.

Coming to The Hague: the TPC conference “Transatlantic Perspectives in Public Affairs: Technology, Safety, Security” May 30 – 01 June 2013

From May 30 to June 1, 2013, the annual conference of the Transatlantic Policy Consortium will be held at our Campus in The Hague. This year’s conference theme is “Transatlantic Perspective in Public Affairs: Technology, Safety, Security”. At Campus The Hague we are excited to host this high-standing international conference in our new building. A considerable number of internationally leading scholars in the field have already confirmed their presence. Please find the general Call for Papers here: CALL FOR PAPERS Def

Work visit to the Dutch Parliament with my Multi-Level Governance class

Tweede KamerToday my LUC students taking the course Multi-Level Governance were received in the Tweede Kamer, to learn about the role and competencies of national parliaments in the EU policy making process.

The Clerk of the Standing Committee on European Affairs kindly provided them with first-hand information on the increased capabilities of the Parliament to make sure EU policies are in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, the increased interactions national parliaments in the various member states have with one another as a result of the yellow and orange card procedures, and — of course — about the trade-off between democracy and efficiency when it comes to multi-level law-making.

Shortlisted for the Annual G.A. van Poelje Prize

Recently I was informed that my PhD dissertation, Transforming for Europe: The Reshaping of National Bureaucracies in a System of Multi-Level Governance is shortlisted for the 2011 G.A. van Poelje Prize for best PhD in the fields of Public Administration and Policy Sciences in The Netherlands and Flanders. Great news! Out of 29 nominations, 4 dissertations were shortlisted. The winner will be announced on February 28th, during the yearly congress of the Dutch Association of Public Administration.