The Dynamics of the Dutch policy advisory system


Although the literature on policy advisory systems has experienced a revival in recent years, its empirical focus has mainly been on Anglophone countries (Craft and Halligan 2016). This paper applies the policy advisory systems approach to the Netherlands, which can serve as an example of the dynamics in the policy advisory systems of consensus-driven, neo-corporatist polities Lijphart in Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in ThirtySix Countries, 21, 235–266 1999). Using a historical-institutionalist perspective, the dynamics of the Dutch policy advisory system from the mid-1960s to the present day are examined. Based on original cross-time survey data and an analysis of secondary sources, the impact of depillarization (mid-1960s–mid-1990s), new public management (mid-1980s onwards) and an increased pressure on the executive have had for the Dutch policy advisory system (from the late 1990s): fragmentation, externalization and a non-partisan brand of politicization are shown. More specifically, the use of the institutionalized system of permanent advisory councils has lost part of its significance in favour of both external consultants and ad hoc advisory committees. The Dutch case, with its accumulative institutional design based on Weberianism, neo-corporatism and new public management elements, has thus experienced markedly different dynamics in its policy advice system than the Anglophone countries.

You can download the article via this link!

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.

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