September 2016: Patrick Overeem joins the Department

Patrick Overeem

As per September 1, Patrick Overeem has joined the Department as an assistant professor. His specialization is in political theory and government ethics. Broadly interested in the quality of and interplay between what Aristotle called politeia (form of government) and politikos (politician), he has published on, among other things, public values (especially constitutional/regime values), statesmanship, integrity, and virtue ethics. Currently, he is conducting research on the practice and ethics of political compromise-making, specifically in multi-party democracies under conditions of polarization and populism, in a project funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF). Besides research and teaching at the Department, Patrick is coordinator for Political Science at the newly started bachelor program Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) taught at the J.S. Mill College.

Previously, Patrick has worked at the Department of Public Administration of Leiden University, where together with Toon Kerkhoff he co-founded the Centre for Public Values & Ethics, a platform for research on public sector integrity. He has taught courses in political philosophy, government ethics and public values, and the philosophy of social science and was awarded a fellowship at the Leiden Teachers’ Academy. In his doctoral dissertation (2010), he provided a theoretical analysis of the constitutional rationale for dividing between politics and administration in modern states. Patrick holds degrees in both Political Science and Public Administration. A married father of three, he is an avid biography reader and loves to play tennis.


September 2016: Marijn Hoijtink joins the Department

As of September 2016, Marijn Hoijtink is joining the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam as an Assistant Professor in International Relations. Marijn will teach in the Master's program Political Science: International Relations and Transnational Governance and in the Bachelor’s program Political Science, but also in the LLM program Law and Politics of International Security. Broadly, her research sits in the intersection of International Relations, Critical Security Studies, Science and Technology Studies, and EU studies. More specifically, her research focuses on the constitution of new markets for security and defense in Europe in the context of changing conceptions of risk. On the one hand, this involves a focus on the politics of the governmentality of risk and the role of industry and lobby groups in the production of contemporary discourses of speculation, uncertainty, and risk. On the other hand, her research illustrates how investment in security technology becomes entwined with logics of global business and potential market development. These developments empower those institutions and actors that are directly embedded in global financial structures and trade and export, including corporate actors and the European Commission.


September 2016: Hanna Mühlenhoff joins the Department

nieuws foto MuehlenhoffHanna L. Muehlenhoff joined the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Vrije Universiteit as a postdoctoral researcher of the Centre for Contemporary European Studies Amsterdam (ACCESS EUROPE) on 1 September 2016. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Tuebingen where she also worked as a lecturer and research associate. She researches EU foreign policies and Turkey-EU relations with a special focus on EU civil society promotion and gender policies combining governmentality and feminist approaches. During her postdoc she intends to study the effects of EU policies supporting empowerment and human security abroad.|


August 2016: Britta Brugman joins the Department

Per 1 August 2016, Britta Brugman is a PhD candidate and junior lecturer at the John Stuart Mill College - the home of the new Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE) bachelor programma, and the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Prior to this, she studied Communication Science at the same university, and held multiple research and teaching positions at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Being specialized in political communication, Britta's PhD focuses on how metaphorical frames work in voters’ political decision-making. The main question she aims to answer is how cognitive and affective responses to metaphorical frames interact in explaining voters' beliefs, attitudes and preferences regarding economic policy.


July 2016: Congrats to the new dr.!

On July 4, 2016, Saif Ullah Khalid defended his PhD dissertation entitled "Theory and Practice of Police Corruption in Pakistan: Case Studies of Three Police Departments". In this study, the first empirical study of its kind, Saif examined which factors influence corruption in Pakistani police departments and put forward lessons about integrity from these findings. His observation, survey and semi-structured intereviews demonstrated that police officers in Pakistan differ in their understanding of corruption and integrity violations from the picture emerging from the literature. Some factors and conditions contribute in the curtailment of occurrences of integrity violations while other do not; it depends on the context.

You can find more information on the dissertation here.


June 2016: Nana de Graaff wins junior lecturer award!

The Department is proud to announce that dr. Nana de Graaff, Assistant Professor in Internanational Relations, has been awarded the Junior Lecturer Award of the Faculty of Social Sciences of 2015-2016. The Department warmly congratulats her with this wonderful achievement!


May 2016: New book for wider audience on the welfare state

boek Verzorgingsstaat nieuwsWhy do we need& a welfare state, and how did we get it? What does a welfare state actually do? Does a welfare state clash with a participation society? And why do we need to reform the welfare state?
Kees van Kersbergen, professor of comparative politcs at the University of Aarhus, and Barbara Vis, professor of political decision making at this department, address these and other Big Questions about the welfare state in this (Dutch) book for a wider audience, entitled "De Verzorgingsstaat" (The Welfare State).  The Dutch welfare state is the starting point of the book, but for a proper understanding, Van Kersbergen and Vis also discuss many other Western welfare states extensively. More information on the book is available here.


May 2016: Two vacancies for assistant professors; closing date 1 June 2016

The Department of Political Science and Public Administration of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has two vacancies for Assistant Professors, one in International Relations and one in any of the subfields of Political Science.

Currently, all regular appointments in the Department include 70% teaching and managerial duties and 30% research time. For the IR position, this will be the division; for the Political Science position, the tasks will amount to 30% research time, 45% teaching time and 25% of coordination time in the first year of the appointment (with the coordination taking place in the new Philosophy, Politics and Economics programme). After a possible extension, this distribution of time for the latter position will be 30% research time, 30% teaching time and 40% of coordination time.

For the Assistant Professor in Political Science, we seek a candidate with a broad profile who: is able to teach a wide variety of courses (including methods ones); displays excellence in teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate level; has a demonstrated interest in and aptitude for working in a multi- and interdisciplinary and international environment; has a proven track record of international refereed publications; and an inspiring enthusiasm to help build the community of students and staff of a new international bachelor programme. The Department welcomes applications from all subfields of political science, including comparative politics, international relations, and political theory.

For the Assistant Professor in International Relations, we also seek a candidate with a broad profile; excellent teaching skills and preferably experience in teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate level; a proven track record of international refereed publications, and an inspiring enthusiasm to contribute to our community of students and staff.

Requirements (both positions)
• A PhD degree in political science, or a closely related discipline;
• Proven track record in publishing in international refereed journals;
• An attractive research agenda in any of the subfields of political science (for the Political Science position)/in international relations (for the International Relations position) that fits the political science research programme “Multi-layered governance in EUrope and beyond”;
• Willingness to acquire external research funding;
• Ability and willingness to teach and coordinate a wide variety of courses in political science (the coordination holds especially for the Assistant Professor in Political Science);
• Excellent command of the English language;
• A willingness to learn Dutch – for non-Dutch applicants – is a plus;
• The ability to work in a team as well as independently;
• The ability to work in an interdisciplinary and multicultural environment; and
• A willingness to actively contribute to the community life of the John Stuart Mill College (for the Assistant Professor in Political Science only).

If you are interested, please consult the full vacancy texts for further information on the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Department, the tasks, further particulars, salary, where to obtain further information, and how to apply.
The text for the International Relation position is available here and for the Political Science one here.

The closing date for both positions is 1 June 2016.   


9 June 2016: Launches of two books by Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks, 16.00-17.00, @Arora room, main building VU

boek measuring regional authorityThe Department of Political Science and Public Administration proudly announces that on 9 June 2016, 16.00-17.00 @Arora room in the Main building of the VU, Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks' (and their co-authors) two new Oxford University Press books will be launched: Measuring Regional Authority and Community, Scale, and Regional Governance. These books summarize the findings of their advanced ERC project.

As the OUP website describes, Measuring Regional Authority "is the first of five ambitious volumes theorizing the structure of governance above and below the central state. This book is written for those interested in the character, causes, and consequences of governance within the state and for social scientists who take measurement seriously. The book sets out a measure of regional authority for 81 countries in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific from 1950 to 2010. Subnational authority is exercised by individual regions, and this measure is the first that takes individual regions as the unit of analysis. On the premise that transparency is a fundamental virtue in measurement, the authors chart a new path in laying out their theoretical, conceptual, and scoring decisions before the reader. The book also provides summaries of regional governance in 81 countries for scholars and students alike".

And the OUP website describes Community, Scale, and Regional Governance as arguing "that jurisdictional design is shaped by the functional pressures that arise from the logic of scale in providing public goods and by the preferences that people have regarding self-government. The first has to do with the character of the public goods provided by government: their scale economies, externalities, and informational asymmetries. The second has to do with how people conceive and construct the groups to which they feel themselves belonging. In this book, the authors demonstrate that scale and community are principles that can help explain some basic features of governance, including the growth of multiple tiers over the past six decades, how jurisdictions are designed, why governance within the state has become differentiated, and the extent to which regions exert authority. The authors propose a postfunctionalist theory which rejects the notion that form follows function, and argue that whilst functional pressures are enduring, one must engage human passions regarding self-rule to explain variation in the structures of rule over time and around the world."

Discussants are Imke Harbers (University of Amsterdam), Markus Haverland (Erasmus University Rotterdam) & Hans Keman (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam). Also co-author Arjan Schakel (Maastricht University) will be present. The event is sponsored by ACCESS Europe. More information is available here.


April 2016: Successful PhD defense on March 30

The department is proud to announce that Menno Soentken, who currently is a postdoc researcher at Erasmus University Rotterdam, has defended his dissertation entitled 'Distributive Logic of Active Labour Market Governance' successfully on March 30, 2016. Congrats to the new dr.!

You can find some more information on the dissertation, in Dutch, here.


February 2016: Blog on the presidential elections in the US

Want to read more on the presidential elections in the US? Nana de Graaff and Bastiaan van Apeldoorn, assistant and associate professors in international relations at the department and experts on American foreign policy, will blog regularly about the elections on the website of Ad Valvas (in Dutch). You can find their most recent blog, plus a link to an older post, here




Nomination Faculty of Social Sciences Research Prize 2015 for Bastiaan van Apeldoorn and Nana de Graaff

Van Apeldoorn and De Graaff received their nomination for this bi-annual research prize of the Faculty of Social Sciences, of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, for their innovative joint research programme on the development of American grand strategy and how this has been influenced by the corporate elite networks to which top foreign policy makers are closely related. The empirically groundbreaking work of Van Apeldoorn and De Graaff shows the substantive overlap between the political and corporate domain in US politics employing social network analysis, and subsequently traces the impact of this intersection on the foreign policy of the United States throughout the administrations of Clinton, Bush and Obama.

The full nomination can be read here (in Dutch):


New Book Publication! Bastiaan van Apeldoorn and Nana de Graaff have published a monograph with Routledge on American Grand Strategy and Corporate Elite Networks. The Open Door Strategy since the end of The Cold War.

In this acclaimed monograph Van Apeldoorn and De Graaff present a novel analysis of how US grand strategy has evolved from the end of the Cold War to the present, offering an integrated analysis of both continuity and change. The post-Cold War American grand strategy has continued to be oriented to securing an ‘open door’ to US capital around the globe. The book shows that the three different administrations that have been in office in the post-Cold War era have pursued this goal with varying means: from Clinton’s promotion of neoliberal globalization to Bush’s ‘war on terror’ and Obama’s search to maintain US primacy in the face of a declining economy and a rising Asia. It offers an innovative approach to US foreign policy analysis by systematically mapping the social networks in which key foreign policy makers are embedded (including corporate elite networks and elite policy planning networks) and tracing the influence of these social roots on American grand strategy  in the post-Cold War era.

Anyone wanting to understand the fundamental drivers of U.S. grand strategy needs to read this superb, path-breaking book.  (…) a “must read” for serious students of U.S. grand strategy

- Professor Christopher Layne (Texas A&M University).
an outstanding, ground-breaking study that puts elite studies back on the agenda

- Professor Inderjeet Parmar (City University, London).
(V)an Apeldoorn and de Graaff (…) a major contribution to our understanding of international relations, the policy-planning process and the role of corporate elites. (…) Accessible, meticulously researched and persuasive, this book sets a new standard for research in International Relations and global political economy- Professor William K. Carroll (University of Virginia).

The publisher's page for the book is

See the Authors Q&A at:

The book will be available in a paperback version within a year’s time and a kindle edition (for those who have gone paperless) is available at


Lecturer Marijn Hoijtink defends her PhD thesis on 27 January 2016

Marijn Hoijtink, lecturer in Political Science, will publicly defend her PhD thesis prepared at the University of Amsterdam on Wednesday 27 January 2016, 14.00 hrs in the Agnietenkapel, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 229-231, Amsterdam. All interested are welcome to attend!

Marijn's thesis, entitled “Securing the European ‘Homeland’: Profit, Risk, Authority”, explores the emergence of a new European market for homeland security technology in the context of changing conceptions of risk. One important contribution of this study is that it focuses on the politics of the governmentality of risk and the role of industry and lobby groups in the production of contemporary discourses and concepts of (in)security. Another contribution of Marijn's analysis is that it illustrates how the development of new security technology in Europe has become subject to internal market considerations and the capacity to cast security as a profitable and politically neutral product. Not a strict privatization of security, then, the analysis insists on the importance of the marketization of security. The difference lies in the ways in which, in the context of the latter, new security technology becomes entwined with logics of global trade and (potential) market development, empowering those institutions and actors that are directly embedded in global structures, such as finance and trade ministries. The marketization of security implies an increasingly complex form of EU security governance, with the European Commission as a key driving force, even if it lacks the formal capacities to legislate. While the term “homeland security” has been almost entirely absent from European political debates, this analysis has consciously adopted the term to re-politicize EU security integration and the effects that are set in motion by the growth of this new market.


New publication showing that domestic political culture influences foreign policy behavior

An article on crisis diplomacy of liberal democracies towards North Korea during four crises by a former PhD student of the department, Michal Onderco, and Wolfgang Wagner has just been published as FirstView article in European Political Science Review.

Michal and Wolfgang argue that although liberal democracies share a common perception of North Korea’s nuclear program as a threat to international peace and security, they differ widely in either confronting or accommodating North Korea. They examine the explanatory power of two ideational driving forces behind the foreign policy of liberal democracies: the ideological orientation of the government and a country’s political culture. Their analysis of 22 liberal democracies demonstrates that countries with punitive domestic cultures tend to adopt confrontational policies towards international norm violators; while left governments are not more accommodationist than right governments. Ideational differences across states are thus more pronounced than those within states.

The article (gated) is available here.


November 2015: Leonie Heres wins the Van Poelje PhD Dissertation Award!

The department is very proud that dr. Leonie Heres, former PhD student in the department, has won the Van Poelje Award for the best Dutch or Flemish dissertation in Public Administration of 2014. Leonie Heres' dissertation ‘One Style Fits All? Ethical Leadership Through the Eyes of Followers’ focuses on ethical leadership but takes a different perspective than existing studies do by concentrating on the perspective of followers. One of her conclusions is that there is not one style of leadership that is appropriate for everyone. Employees with different tasks have also different notions of what is ethical leadership.

The report of the jury (in Dutch) is available here.


October 2015: NEW, unique bachelor programme Philosophy, Politics and Economics

As of 2016-17, our department will participate in a new, unique 3-year Bachelor degree programme Philosophy, Politics and Economics that aims to prepare students for future leadership positions in business, politics, academia, and beyond.

The international programme provides students with core knowledge in Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics. It is a multidisciplinary study that combines the strengths of these three fields, and places special attention on integrating the disciplines’ different perspectives. Complex social problems require generalists, that is, researchers, policy makers and professionals who are able to examine an issue from several angles, who can combine different perspectives in a constructive way, and who are aware of the broader social and historical context of problems. PPE provides you with the necessary tools and knowledge to be a leader in the 21st century.

Being the first programme of its kind on the European continent, Philosophy, Politics and Economics combines a focused curriculum with exchange opportunities at international partner institutions and exciting, exclusive extracurricular initiatives involving representatives of the world of business, policy or politics. The programme provides rigorous theoretical training and broad, hands-on experiences that will enable you to take an active role in shaping the world’s future.

You can find more information about the programme here. Interested prospective students can attend the Bachelor programmes day on the 14th of November.


October 2015: Inaugural talk professor Ben Crum

On 2 October 2015, Ben Crum, Professor and Chair of Political Science, held his inaugural lecture entitled ‘De Kwetsbaarheid van de Democratie: Collectief zelfbestuur in een tijdperk van internationalisering’ (The Frailty of Democracy: Collective Self-government in an Era of Internationalization’).

Can the ideal of democracy as collective autonomy be maintained in an era of internationalization? To address this question, Ben's lecture sets out to do two things. First, it develops a conception of democracy as collective self-government, and defends the continuing relevance of this conception in contemporary complex societies. Secondly, it sketches some first outlines of how the ideal of democracy as collective self-government might be preserved in an era of internationalization. The central premise of this outline is that international democracy will inevitably have to be multilevel in character and hence to rely on strong national democracies. Building on the experiences in the European Union, Ben focuses on two developments that may serve to retain the ideal of democracy in an internationalizing era: (1)the internalization of international politics in national political will-formation and (2) the emergence of a supranational political space that is increasingly disconnected from national party politics.

You can find the text of the lecture here. In case you have missed the lecture, or if you want to see it again, you can watch it here. The talk itself is in Dutch, with slides in English.


October 2015: Stichting Institute Gak awards Hans Bosselaar and Willem Trommel a 500,000 euro research grant

Stichting Instituut Gak has awarded a research grant of 500,000 euro to dr. Hans Bosselaar and professor Willem Trommel for their four-year project entitled  'Niet langer in de Wajong … Monitoren, begrijpen, leren en kennis verspreiden' (No longer in the youth disability scheme... Monitoring, understanding, learning and disseminating knowledge). Also dr. Judith van der Veer will be involved in the project.  

Despite much existing knowledge of the labor market position of young people with disability, knowledge about their chances on the current labor market is lacking. This project will fill this lacuna, not just by generating new knowledge but also by actively sharing this knowledge with diverse stake holders, by testing the "power" of this knowledge and by subsequently actively disseminating it. 

In the Netherlands, the counseling of young people with disability has shifted to municipalities as of 1 January 2015. Municipalities, however, have limited - if any - experience with this target group and their potential employers. Additionally, there is a lack of "deep" knowledge about this group's (labor)participation; for instance, what is the role of the direct social environment on obtaining and maintaining a position in the labor market, and what is the exact role of employers, supervisors and colleagues in the process?

Next to collecting data on the labor market position of these young people and about local and regional policy measures, and essential component of this project is the monitoring of several young persons and their environment in obtaining and maintaining a position on the labor market. Moreover, the results of the quantitative research, the study of policy measures and the intensive case studies will form the basis of two action-oriented research projects. Project 1 is the "Change lab", in which municipal policy makers will translate the lessons from the research projects into concrete actions and measures. They will test these innovations in their own practice, monitored by the researchers and by other policy makers in the Change Lab. Project 2 in the action-oriented research is "learning in practice". Here (especially) knowledge obtained in the case studies is translated into concrete measures that professionals can apply to improve their practice. An important component in this is to develop ways in which the tacit knowledge of actors about the (successful) integration of young people with disability can be made transferrable. 

To conclude the project, a conference will be held in which the results of all components of the project will be shared interactively with the wider field of stakeholders. A conference in the third year of the project will be used to share the first results with stakeholders, who will also have the opportunity to offer their feedback and input.



October 2015: Publication in American Journal of Political Science

Barbara Vis, Professor of Political Decision Making, published an article in the American Journal of Political Science. The article is joint work with Gijs Schumacher, Marc van de Wardt (both University of Amsterdam) and Michael Baggesen Klitgaard (University of Southern Denmark). 

In ‘How Aspiration to Office Conditions the Impact of Government Participation on Party Platform Change’, the authors propose that a party's aspiration to office, measured by its historical success or failure in entering office, determines a party's reaction to being in opposition or government. They hypothesize that, because of loss aversion, parties with low office aspiration change more when they are in government than when they are in opposition. Conversely, parties with high office aspiration change more as opposition party than as government party. The authors find evidence for these hypotheses through a pooled time-series cross-sectional analysis of 1,686 platform changes in 21 democracies, using the Comparative Manifesto Data and an innovative measure of party platform change.

You can find the article (gated) here.


September 2015: Congrats to the two new dr.'s!

In September 2015, two external PhD candidates have successfully defended their dissertations - congrats to both of them!

  • Wouter Landman defended his thesis entitled 'Blauwe patronen. Betekenisgeving in politiewerk' (Blue patterns: Meaning giving in policing) on September 18. His study revealed over 20 pattern of meaning giving that influence the behavior of police officers.
  • Santino Lo Bianco defended his thesis entitled 'Tectonic Shifts of European Integration. Identifying Deliberation and Change in the Everyday Practice of Decision Making in EU's Justice and Home Affairs' on 23 September. In his study, Lo Bianco examined to what extent the daily decision making in the EU is the force driving the changes in the EU integration process.


July 2015: Menno Soentken wins the Junior Lecturer Award

Menno Soentken has won the Junior Lecturer Award of the Faculty of Social Sciences! The well-structuredness of his classes were mentioned by the jury as a strength of Menno's teaching, as was the link he always makes between theory and practice. Menno is currently finishing up his PhD dissertation.


June 2015: Grant of 100,000 Euro for Ronald van Steden

Ronald van Steden's earlier grant of Stichting Maatschappij en Veiligheid (SMV) has been extended with two years for a total amount of 100,000 Euro. Last year, Ronald already received a grant of 50,000 Euro of SMV for research on police, public order and safety. This grant has been extended by another two years, enabling strengthening the research group Safety and Citizenship of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration.


June 2015: PhD defense on the dynamics of deadly governmental accidents

On June 8, Stephan Berndsen will defend his dissertation entitled 'Between Error and Evil: The Dynamics of Deadly Governmental Accidents'. This dissertation focuses on deadly accidents in which the government has played a role, such as the Schiphol fire, the poison scandal of the Probo Koala and the fire in the Catshuis. One of his results is that error is the most common, combining coincidence, bad luck, failure and at times bad choices. Also administrative evil can occur. “People in organizations can through their daily routines, often without knowing this, contribute to unnecessary accidents,” states Berndsen, giving as an example the whistle blower Fred Spijkers after accidents with land mines. The government is not always aware of this type of danger, as the responses from governments show. They are generally willing to cooperate in investigations, but don't really know how to respond, leading to an oftentimes defensive response. Berndsen's findings can benefit governments, people and organizations affected and scientists. Seeking the right balance between evil and error remains challenging.


May 2015: Gjalt de Graaf appointed as Chair of Integrity of Academic Education, with a focus on governing conflicting public values

The Department of Political Science and Public Administration is very proud to announce that Gjalt de Graaf has been appointed as Chair of Integrity of Academic Education, with a focus on governing conflicting public values per 1 May 2015.

The global financial crisis demonstrates only too well what happens when countries, institutions and individuals lose their moral compass and personal integrity is thrown to the winds. Within the professions, what has happened to the idea of stewardship, and to the notion of the guardianship of other people’s interests? The ethics of education is also in need of attention. As there are integrity issues and dilemmas in academic research, there are integrity issues and dilemmas in academic education. Academic teachers should, of course, feel a loyalty towards their students, but also to their employers, colleagues, science, private life and profession. Balancing these loyalties is not always easy. As Chair Integrity of Academic Education, Gjalt will contribute to and complement VU initiatives on integrity of methodologies and research, by broadening the concept and issues of integrity, and by focusing on the integrity of education.

Gjalt will conduct research on the integrity of academic education, with special attention for dealing with conflicting values. The fundamental challenge to public institutions, including universities in serving the public interest, is to balance the pursuit of different, inevitably contradictory, standards. Trade-offs between valued principles are thus an ineluctable fact of any designing process. For instance, services that are fully responsive to the needs and wants of some students may not be very efficient in terms of the interests of the wider academic community. Besides, ideas of effective operational structures could be in breach of the law. Many public organizations such as universities have put together codes which lists those values that should characterize the quality of governance and education. The idea of good governance is often given substance by normative statements on those values that a public organization such as a university should adhere to. However, the meaning of all these values in daily practice remains unclear. Moreover, easy as it is to applaud specific values – who is against openness, impartiality or efficiency in higher education? – and to set these values down on paper in a codified form, it is much more difficult to subsequently act in line with all of them. In daily practice, multiple values that are all desirable will conflict in such a way that choices have to be made.

Broad developments such as globalization, individualization and information technology have major implications for universities. New social networks challenge traditional modes of public service delivery like higher education, and lead to new value conflicts – where values such as impartiality, transparency, participation or accessibility are apparently at odds with efficiency, stability or democratic processes. A more specific development is the increasing use of social media by students. As the Cohen Committee (2013) concluded, Project X parties such as the Haren event in The Netherlands show that there is insufficient understanding of the impact social media can have. This mode of communication is connected to micro-organization, framing and unpredictability, facilitates large scale action and offers alternatives to conventional patterns of decision making and participation. For example, with the possibility for students to film classes with their start phones and quickly widely distribute the material, openness can conflict with privacy. New technologies can certainly help the efficiency of academic education, but how do they impact the quality of education?



April 2015: Congrats to the new dr.'s!

Over the last months, no less then six PhD candidates in the department defended their PhD dissertations successfully! The new dr.'s are:

  • Leonie Heres (December 2014), One Style Fits All? The Content, Origins, and Effect of Follower Expectations of Ethical Leadership.
  • Benjamin Neudorfer (December 2014), Consequences of Multilevel Governance.
  • Debbie Rice (February 2015), Building Active Welfare States: How Policy Shapes Caseworker Practice.
  • Falk Ostermann (April 2015), French Security and Defense under Sarkozy and Chirac. The Discursive Reconstruction of Autonomy, Integration, and Identity.
  • Jeanine Bezuijen (April 2015), Governance above the State: Explaining Variation in International Authority.
  • Nienke Boesveldt (April 2015), Planet Homeless: Governance Arrangements in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Glasgow.

And on 12 May, Anna Schonewille will defend her dissertation entitled What activation practitioners do: An ethnomethodological study about activation as it is accomplished in practice by activation practitioners.



January 2015: Horizon 2020 research grant for Political Science

Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks, who jointly hold the chair in multilevel governance in the Faculty of Social Sciences, were successful in a Horizon 2020 bid.

EUENGAGE - Bridging the gap between public opinion and European leadership -- brings together leading researchers from Siena University, the VU University Amsterdam, Mannheim University, the London School of Economics, Central European University in Budapest, and Bucharest University. The consortium is led by the Siena partner, with the VU pillar the second-largest in the program. The goals of the project are:

  1. To inquire into the current tensions between supranational EU governance and popular mobilisation at the national level, critically questioning EU-driven policies and EU legitimacy;
  2. To propose remedial actions based on sound empirical research on the relationship between public opinion, national and supranational political elites.

The VUA participation in Horizon 2020 has also an ACCESS component since two UvA researchers also participate in the research program.




Barbara Vis new chair political decision-making

Barbara Vis has been appointed on the Fenna Diemer Lindeboom chair Political decision-making, as of Januari 2013.

In her research Barbara Vis asks why some politicians, political parties and governments taken unpopular decisions and others do not. Decisions like increasing the age of retirement, initializing a military intervention or a party's decision to change its position on a major topic increase the risk of losing votes or participation in a cabinet. However, not everyone takes the same decision. 

To explain the difference between political actors Barbara Vis uses insights from behavioral economics, in particular the prospect theory. According to this theory the context of gain or loss affects the risk of a decision. The theory predicts that people become cautious in their decision-making if they appear to be gaining votes, and become more risk-seeking if they are on the loss anyway.

Barbara Vis will test this theory in three political situations: the behaviour of political parties, welfare state reforms, and military interventions. In the past three years in a project granted by the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research she has already demonstrated  that the prospect theory offers a useful way to explain how governments deal with the risks of welfare state reforms.

The Fenna Diemer Lindeboom chairs have been initiated in 2005 at VU University Amsterdam to increase the number of female professors. The chairs are called after dr. Fenna Diemer-Lindeboom, an main advocate of woman's interests at VU University.



Grant for Gijs Schumacher

Dr. Gijs Schumacher, postdoctoral researcher affiliated with the University of Southern Denmark and the VU University Amsterdam has received a postdoctoral grant (DKK 1.7 million) from the Danish Council for Independent Research. The program  (equivalent to the Dutch Veni program) supports excellent researchers in the early stage of their career to carry out independent research. This project entitled 'Do Party Leaders Respond to Public Opinion, Coalition Parties or the Party' seeks to explain how party organizations moderate the way political parties adapt to ever-changing circumstances. Dr. Schumacher will analyze the development of public opinion, party organizations and party positioning in 18 developed democracies in the period 1970-2010.

By doing so this project gives insights into the mechanisms of democratic representation. The project will be carried out at the University of Southern Denmark, in close collaboration with the Department of Political Science at the VU University Amsterdam. For more information on the project see:  



New book by André Krouwel

André Krouwel has written a new about change in political parties.

Abstract: Political parties regularly change and adapt in response to ever-changing circumstances. Until now these changes have frequently prompted both scholars and the media to suggest a whole new type of political party, and over time the number of models and types has proliferated to the point of confusion, contradiction, and a loss of explanatory power. In this sophisticated yet accessible study, André Krouwel rejects this mélange of models as inadequate. He utilizes a wide range of data sources to analyze the ideological, organizational, and electoral change undergone by more than one hundred European parties in fifteen different countries, from Scandinavia to the Iberian Peninsula, between 1945 and 2010. The result is one of the most comprehensive empirically grounded studies of the genesis, development, and transformation of political parties in advanced democratic states written to date.

Krouwel, André (2012), Party Transformations in European Democracies. State University of New York Press. Link:

Krouwel has also published a new journal article:

Startin, N. and Krouwel, A. (2013). Euroscepticism Re-galvanized: The Consequences of the 2005 French and Dutch Rejections of the EU Constitution. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 57(1).



ERC Advanced Grant for Marlies Glasius

Marlies Glasius focuses her research on how authoritarian regimes are affected by the globalisation of information and communication, association, and people movements, and how these regimes respond. The recent series of uprisings in the Arab world suggests that the nature and the sustainability of contemporary authoritarian regimes are not well understood. Access to ICT and media, the influence of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the increase in the supply and outflow of people have thrown up new challenges for authoritarian in terms of how to control citizens. Glasius will investigate changes in both the nature and the sustainability of authoritarian rule in relation to the erosion of decision-making autonomy at the state level posited by globalisation theorists. 

Prof. Glasius has received the grant through her position at the University of Amsterdam and will carry out the research there.



New staff publications

Biermann, Frank & Philipp Pattberg (eds) (2012), Global Environmental Governance Reconsidered. MIT Press. Link:

Budge, Ian & Michael McDonald, Paul Pennings and Hans Keman (2012), Organizing Democratic Choice: Party Representation over Time. Oxford University Press. Link:

Keman, Hans & Ferdinand Muller-Rommel (2012), Party Government in the New Europe. Routledge. Link:

Koole, Karin and Barbara Vis (2012). 'Working Mothers and the State: Under Which Conditions do Governments Spend Much on Maternal Employment Supporting Policies?'. COMPASSS WP Series 2012-71. Link:

Schumacher, Gijs & Barbara Vis (2012), 'When Do Social Democrats Retrench the Welfare State?', Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 15(4): 1-12. Link:

Vis, Barbara (2012), 'The Comparative Advantages of fsQCA and Regression Analysis for Moderately Large-N Analyses', Sociological Methods and Research, 41(1): 168-198. Link:



Barbara Vis receives VIDI grant for research on risk taking

Barbara Vis has received a VIDI grant from NWO for her research on risk taking.

Politics often involves high risks. Increasing the pension age or intervening military, for instance, likely leads to losing votes or office. Moreover, political parties changing their policy position risk turning their voters away. The degree to which political actors take such electoral risks varies substantially. How to explain these varying attitudes towards risk? Existing explanations emphasizing, for example, partisanship or institutions are unable to explain this variation.

Deepening and broadening her earlier work and taking up recent advances in behavioral economics, Barbara Vis’ Vidi program’s advances and tests a theory of political decision-making under risk that holds on the individual level, the meso level (parties), and the macro level (governments). She draws on and develops prospect theory, which predicts that people take risk-averse decisions when facing gains while they are risk-seeking or acceptant when confronting losses.

The program’s first objective is to experimentally test to what extent (groups of) politicians display the same attitude towards risk as “normal” individuals do, i.e., whether prospect theory’s predictions hold. The second objective is to establish empirically why some political parties risk turning their constituency away by changing their policy position on salient topics, but others do not. The third objective is to assess empirically why some governments take decisions involving substantial electoral risks while others do not. Together with a post-doc and two PhDs, Barbara Vis answers the research questions through a series of quantitative, qualitative and experimental techniques.



Philipp Pattberg gets a VIDI grant for his project on the Architecture of Global Environmental Governance

Philipp Pattberg, affiliated with the Department of Political Science, the Institute of Environmental Studies and the Amsterdam Global Change Institute, has recieved a VIDI grant to carry out his research on improving global environmental governance.

Scientists today see mounting evidence that the entire earth system now operates well outside safe boundaries. According to a recent scientific assessment of the international Earth System Governance Project, human societies must change course and steer away from critical tipping points that might lead to rapid and irreversible change, while ensuring sustainable livelihoods for all. This requires a fundamental transformation in current patterns of consumption and production. The key question from a social science perspective is how to organize the co-evolution of societies and their surrounding environment, in other words, how to develop effective and equitable governance solutions for today’s global problems. A major concern in this respect is the increasing fragmentation of global governance architectures across a number of policy domains. While global governance architectures can be highly integrated (as in the case of the free trade architecture governed by one overarching institution), the environmental domain is fragmented among competing sets of policies, actor constellations, fundamental norms and underlying discourses. The consequences of this development for effective, equitable and legitimate global governance are not well understood. This project will (1) take stock of the existing level of fragmentation across a number of issue-areas in global environmental politics (climate change; biodiversity; marine governance); (2) explain the causes of fragmentation of global governance architectures based on a carefully designed set of variables; (3) analyze the implications of fragmentation across different scales of governance (i.e. international, regional and domestic levels); and finally (4) suggest policy responses to increased fragmentation.



NWO funding for PhD project of Trineke Palm

MSR Political Science alumni Trineke Palm has together with her promotors Prof. Liesbet Hooghe and Ben Crum received a grant from the Dutch Scientific Council (NWO) to finance a PhD project.

The project critically reviews the proposition that the European Union can be regarded as a ‘normative power’ in the world and the effect that the employment of military missions has had on this character. Taking up all eight cases in which the EU has been militarily active so far, it analyses whether and, if so, under what conditions the use of military means has affected the EU’s foreign policy aims. The project employs a comparative research design, that includes a longitudinal within-case analysis, a cross-case comparison and a comparison with control cases, using qualitative methods: content analysis, interviews and QCA. For more information on the grant please visit the NWO website.



Professor Shuji Hisano from Kyoto University visits the Political Science department

The department of Political Science is very pleased that Dr. Hisano, Professor in International Political Economy of Agriculture at Kyoto University, will spend five months at the Political Science Department of the VU. Dr. Hisano's main research interests include: political, economic, and social interactions over agricultural biotechnology (e.g. dynamic interaction between agency and structure in terms of Gramscian approach to power relations), and global governance of agriculture and food with a special focus on the subject of food security, food sovereignty, and the right to food. During his stay at the VU Dr. Hisano will conduct interviews with various stakeholders in the food industry.



VU alumnus Neda Delfani wins thesis award

Neda Delfani has won the master thesis award from the Dutch Social Economic Council (SER). The jury praised Neda's thesis for her originiality, policy relevance, level of analysis, and readability. The thesis is titled "Experts versus politicians. On the influence of government ideology on the European Strategy for Growth and Jobs".

Neda analyses "the labour market policies of Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden in two different years to trace the effects of the ESGJ in different political environments. The study reveals that the governments of these countries do not give equal attention to all recommendations and guidelines but engage in cherry-picking. Governments address in particular those recommendations and guidelines that fit within the ideological preferences of the incumbent parties. However, given the fact that government coalitions alternate regularly and it is hard to reverse implemented policies, it is expected that in the long run the ESGJ affects the direction of domestic labour market policy."

The award consists of 2000euro and a day alongside SER-chairman Alexander Rinnooy Kan. For more information on the award, please visit the website of the Social Economic Council.

The journal of Comparative European Politics has published an article by Neda Delfani based on her thesis.



Party Government Data Set is online!

The Party Government Data Set (PGDS) files are published on the website of dr. Jaap Woldendorp. The dataset covers 40 parliamentary democracies from 1945, or the year these countries became a parliamentary democracy (again)., through 2008. This update of the PGDS is based on the 2000 edition (Woldendorp et al. 2000).

The countries included are:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (IVth and Vth republics), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland , Turkey, United Kingdom.

Go directly to the dataset.



Publications by staff members

Crum, B. (2012). The European Parliament as a driving force in informal institution-building: The hard case of the EP’s relation with the High Representative for the CFSP. In Th. Christiansen and C. Neuhold (eds). International handbook on informal governance. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 354-73.

Crum, B. (2011). What do we owe the Poles (or the Greeks)? Three emerging duties of transnational social justice in the European Union.RECON Online Working Paper 2011/35.

Crum, B. (2011). Learning from the EU Constitutional Treaty Democratic Constitutionalization beyond the Nation-State. Routledge.

Schumacher, G. (2011) Signalling a Change of Heart? How Parties' short term ideological shifts explain welfare state reform. Acta Politica, 46, 331-352. 

Geis, A. & Wagner, W.(2011) How far is it from Königsberg to Kandahar? Democratic peace and democratic violence in international relations. Review of International Studies, 37(4), 1555-1577.

Vis, B., Woldendorp, J.J. & Keman, J.E. (2012). Economic performance and institutions: Capturing the dependent variable.European Political Science Review, 4(1), 73-96. 

Vis, B., Woldendorp, J.J. & Keman, J.E. (2012). Examining variation in economic performance using fuzzy-sets. Quality and Quantity (online first). 

Wagner,W.(2011) Negative and positive integration in EU criminal law co-operation. European Integration online Papers (EIoP), 15 (Article 3).



further information