PhD position on multi-actor decision making behaviour in urban climate adaptation

PhD position on multi-actor decision making behaviour in urban climate adaptation

Published Deadline Location
12 May 25 Jun Delft

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Job description

Urban infrastructure and livelihoods are expected to be hit the hardest by climate change impacts. The complexity and urgency of the necessary changes to adapt urban environments and behaviour can be overwhelming for both citizens and local policy makers. Decisions need to be made under large uncertainties, while navigating existing social, financial, and regulatory systems in dynamically changing contexts. Effective climate adaptation policies and programming need to be aligned across multiple actors with distinct roles, interests, expertise, and resources. Even with well-aligned policies, delays and pushback may occur if not considering the behavioural responses and abilities of those required to implement changes. Yet, urban climate adaptation lags behind other policy areas in considering behavioural insights for effective policy and decision-making.

This 4-year PhD appointment aims to advance interdisciplinary research at the intersection of decision, behavioural and policy science. As the doctoral candidate, you will investigate multi-actor decision making behaviour in urban climate adaptation. Your aim is to understand the contextualized and complex multi-actor system behaviour and to identify behavioural influences that foster or undermine quality decision-making of local policy makers in climate adaptation.

It is anticipated that theoretical and empirical insights from the fields of behavioural and rational decision-making and policy analysis will be combined in this research. Mixed methods research blending qualitative and quantitative approaches and experiments may be conducted to investigate policy-maker behaviour and to validate the findings. The research findings will be shared through publications in peer-reviewed academic journals and presentations at conferences.

You will take part in courses offered by the Graduate School and contribute to educational, organizational, and impact-oriented activities as part of your professional development. During the first months of the appointment you will develop and agree a research and development plan with support of your PhD supervisors. Your main supervisor will be Lisa Scholten (associate professor, focusing on decision competence in complex systems, especially urban water systems). The position is embedded into the Policy Analysis section, Multi-Actor Systems department, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management.



Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


We are looking for a PhD candidate with the following profile:

  • holds a relevant MSc degree° obtained before the start of the position
  • demonstrated background, interest, or experience related to the topic of this PhD
  • has strong analytic, integrative, and reflective skills
  • is committed, broad-minded, curious, and conscientious
  • is proficient in English in both written and oral communication°°
  • is available to travel to conduct field work in the Netherlands or Europe

The following would be considered beneficial, but is not required, for this position:

  • prior work on human decision-making in the context of environmental sustainability, climate policy and implementation
  • experience with interdisciplinary, mixed-methods research
  • fluency in Dutch and/or another major EU language to facilitate field work

MSc programmes in policy or decision science, public administration, behavioural science, complex systems analysis and engineering, management science, socio-technical or social-ecological systems science and related fields are deemed particularly suitable.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

As a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, you will be part of a supportive research and education environment. Qualified supervision by your main supervisor and suitable co-supervisors will be organized in alignment with the PhD topic. To further aid your personal career development, PhD candidates have access to independent mentoring by an academic staff member appointed in mutual agreement via the Graduate School. 


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Technology, Policy and Management

The Faculty of TPM provides an important contribution to solving complex technical-social issues, such as energy transition, mobility, digitalisation, water management and (cyber) security. TPM does this with its excellent education and research at the intersection of technology, society and policy. We combine insights from both engineering and social sciences as well as the humanities. TPM develops robust models and designs, is internationally oriented and has an extensive network of knowledge institutions, companies, social organisations and governments.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD03939


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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