PhD Fellow: Bureaucratic Responses to External Shocks

PhD Fellow: Bureaucratic Responses to External Shocks

Published Deadline Location
19 Sep 11 Oct Den Haag

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PhD Fellow: Bureaucratic Responses to External Shocks (1,0 FTE; six years)

The Institute of Public Administration at Leiden University is looking for a PhD Fellow.

Job description

Project description
In the past twenty to thirty years, national states have endured a series of transboundary crises that shook the very foundations of their sovereignty. The terrorist attacks of 9/11, the financial crisis of 2008, the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine cause national states, i.e., politicians and civil servants alike, to come up with responses that adequately address these shocks. One of the key questions in this PhD project is how governments and public administrations respond to these crises and external shocks? And to what extent can they successfully adapt to an environment that harbors such complex threats? Responses often come too late, if they come at all, and attempts to adapt remain mere symbolic acts of political elites. Any attempt to adapt almost always comes at a considerable loss of transparency and citizens’ trust in the competence, openness, and fairness of their governments.

In this project, the PhD fellow will examine how bureaucrats, policymakers and their organizations respond to crises and external shocks. Particularly, we will focus on political and administrative decision making within public organizations (e.g., ministerial departments and agencies). The starting point of this analysis will be that the structure of public organizations has an effect on how decisions are prepared and made. Using insights from political science, economics, organizational science, and public administration, the PhD fellow will analyze how organizational structures allocate attention across inside ministries and agencies, how political and organizational agendas interact, and how decisions and public policies are decided upon. The ultimate goal of this project is both academical and practical: to understand how decision making under crises occurs and to aid policymakers to make decisions that are able to address crises and external shocks.

The PhD Fellow will closely cooperate with scholars of the Governing Polarized Societies research hub at Leiden University as well as the international network of scholars working within the Structure and Organization of Government Project. The project is substantively linked to the NWO project “States in Shock: The Adaptive Capacities of State Administration to Transboundary Crises” that was granted in 2022 to one of the supervisors. The PhD fellow will become part of a vibrant team of scholars working on topics at the intersection of bureaucracy, crisis governance, multi-level governance, polarization, populism, and political decision-making. Methodologically, the research requires a mix of qualitative as well as quantitative studies. The findings will be published in a number of journal articles.

The PhD fellowship is a 6-year position in which research on the PhD project is combined with teaching.

Tasks and responsibilities

The PhD fellow is expected to:
  • To design and implement scientific research on bureaucratic responses in the context of external shocks and transboundary crises (approximately 50% of the appointment). The research may rely on a variety of qualitative, quantitative and/or experimental methodological approaches.
  • To contribute to the teaching programs of the Institute of Public Administration (approximately 40% of the appointment), with the opportunity to obtain the Basic Teaching Qualification (BKO). As the position comprises a combination of research and teaching, the PhD Fellow is encouraged to disseminate research insights through contributions to the teaching programs and development of educational materials.
  • To disseminate research findings by publishing scientific articles in international peer-reviewed journals and presenting research at academic conferences.
  • To take part in relevant disciplinary and/or research methods courses, based on an individual training and supervision pla


Leiden University


Selection criteria
  • A (research) master’s degree in social sciences including public administration, political science, policy sciences, (political) economy, sociology or other related fields of study.
  • Experience with quantitative methods and techniques and relevant statistical software packages (R/R Studio, Stata, Qualtrics).
  • Strong written and oral expression skills in English, learning Dutch is required.
  • The ability to work both individually and in a team
  • Demonstrated teaching skills and experience are highly recommended
  • Scientific drive and interest and skills to share scientific knowledge with practice

Conditions of employment

Terms of Conditions
We offer a full-time appointment of 6 years. After 1,5 years an evaluation will take place regarding the progress of the research (thesis), the teaching capacity, personal capabilities and compatibility. Salary range starts from 3,226 euro in the first year up to gross per month up to 4.036 euro gross per month (pay scale 10 in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive employment package including extra vacation (8%) and year-end bonus (8.3%), education and career development, and sabbatical leave. Our individual choice model provides some flexibility to tailor your own package of conditions. For international spouses, we have established a dual career program. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a significant tax advantage. For more information: Application procedure and employment conditions.

Diversity and inclusion are core values of Leiden University. The University aims to become an inclusive community that enables all students and employees to feel valued and respected, and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our education and strengthens our research.


Universiteit Leiden

The Faculty and Institute
Science for and about society is the domain of the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs (FGGA). FGGA is one of the seven faculties of Leiden University and is based in The Hague. It provides high-quality interdisciplinary education and research on social and governance issues such as terrorism, organization and functioning of public administration, climate change and economic crises. Because social issues are not bound by the boundaries of scientific disciplines, these themes are approached from various public administration, political science, economic, legal, and sociological perspectives. The faculty is a young, enterprising, and innovative organization that is growing rapidly. It has three scientific institutes, several centers, 3,500 students and 330 staff members.

The Institute of Public Administration, which is part of FGGA, is one of the largest and oldest institutes of academic research and teaching in the field of public administration in the Netherlands. The institute combines a solid international academic reputation with a central positioning among the international, national, regional, and local governance institutions of The Hague. The institute has an international profile and gets high peer reviewed ratings, both for its research and education. It offers a Dutch Bachelor of Public Administration, a Dutch Master Management of the Public Sector and the English Master programs Public Administration and Governance of Sustainability. Based on the strong academic disciplinary approach, the institute collaborates with other institutes and faculties of Leiden University on interdisciplinary research and education programs. It employs around 90 people and provides education to 1,200 students.

The successful candidate will be a member of the research group on Democracy and Bureaucracy.


  • PhD; Lecturer
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €3226—€5090 per month
  • University graduate
  • 14076



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