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