Visiting Researcher At The Bertelsmann Foundation In Gütersloh

Bertelsmann FoundationFrom July 2014 to October 2014 I am working in Gütersloh (Germany) as a Visiting Researcher at the Bertelsmann Foundation, living in nearby Bielefeld. The Bertelsmann Foundation was founded in 1977 by Reinhard Mohn. It is a private operating think tank with a budget of over € 65 million a year (2013), dedicated to contributing to contemporary issues such as sustainable governance. The Foundation is currently involved in over 60 projects, including the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) project. The SGI is a cross-national comparative survey designed to identify and foster successes in effective policy-making. In the project I am working with the SGI project team (photo) on comparative analyses aimed at evaluating the configurations of governance conditions that influence policy performance. To this purpose we apply Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) – a research approach and method I have been working on for several years (see publications in e.g. Public AdministrationEvaluation, and Journal of Critical Realism) – to 41 EU and OECD countries. The results of the comparative studies will be presented at conferences, and submitted to scientific journals. My visit at Bertelsmann Foundation is made possible by the Foundation and courtesy a grant from the Vereniging Trustfonds Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Beleidsevaluaties Tussen Methode En Praktijk: Naar Een Meer Realistische Evaluatiebenadering

BB&B Front‘Leren van evalueren’, zo klinkt het steeds vaker in de evaluatiepraktijk. Maar steeds vaker wordt (h)erkend dat hoewel dit aantrekkelijk klinkt, de praktische haalbaarheid vaak gering is. Dit komt doordat methoden ofwel niet in staat zijn om op overtuigende wijze effecten toe te schrijven aan beleid, ofwel over-contextualiseren ze zodanig dat lessen moeilijk kunnen worden overgedragen naar volgend beleid. Een ‘realistische’ en systematische vergelijkende evaluatiebenadering is in staat dit hiaat op te lossen en zo leren van evalueren meer kans kan geven.

Publicatie | Pattyn, V. & Verweij, S. (2014). Beleidsevaluaties tussen methode en praktijk: Naar een meer realistische evaluatiebenadering. Burger, Bestuur & Beleid, 8 (4), 260-267.

Kritisch Kijken Naar Kansen: De Schaduwzijden Van DBFMO

ROm FrontWaar politici en beleidsmakers lijken weg te lopen met Design, Build, Finance, Maintain & Operate (DBFMO) als vorm van publiek-private samenwerking, laat onderzoek zien dat de hoge verwachtingen ervan in de praktijk niet altijd worden waargemaakt. DBFMO kan ontzorgend, zelfregulerend en efficiënter werken, maar is geen medicijn zonder bijwerkingen. Zo kunnen publieke waarden als transparantie en kwaliteit onder druk komen te staan en biedt deze contractvorm weinig flexibiliteit als het gaat om het omgaan met onverwachte gebeurtenissen tijdens de uitvoering van een project. Om de waarborging van publieke waarden te garanderen en de inflexibiliteit te compenseren is een flexibel partnerschap en een actieve, kritische en betrokken opdrachtgever nodig.

Publicatie | Reynaers, A. & Verweij, S. (2014). Kritisch kijken naar kansen: De schaduwzijden van DBFMO. ROmagazine, 32 (4), 32-34.

What Makes Governance Networks Work? A Fuzzy Set Qualitative Comparative Analysis Of 14 Dutch Spatial Planning Projects

PAMany studies have been conducted to determine the conditions that contribute to the satisfactory outcome of decision making processes in governance networks. In this article we explore how the interaction of three such conditions – network complexity, network management, and stakeholder involvement – results in stakeholder satisfaction. We use fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis – a relatively new approach in public administration research – to systematically compare the decision making processes and outcomes of 14 Dutch spatial planning projects. Our analysis points to three combinations that result in stakeholder satisfaction: network complexity combined with adaptive management; stakeholder involvement combined with adaptive management; and low complexity combined with both limited stakeholder involvement and closed network management.

Publication | Verweij, S., Klijn, E.H., Edelenbos, J. & Van Buuren, M.W. (2013). What makes governance networks work? A fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis of 14 Dutch spatial planning projects. Public Administration, 91 (4), 1035-1055.

Critical Realism As A Meta-Framework For Understanding The Relationships Between Complexity And Qualitative Comparative Analysis

JCRMany methods are used in research on complexity. One of these is QCA. Although many authors allude to the relationships between complexity and QCA, these links are rarely made explicit. We propose that one way of doing so is by using critical realism as a meta-framework. This article discusses the viability of this approach by examining the extent to which QCA is a complexity-informed method. This question is answered in three steps. First, we discuss the nature of complexity and its epistemological implications. Second, we focus on Bhaskar’s perspective on critical realism and show how it can be used as a framework for understanding social complexity. Third, we examine the ontological and epistemological assumptions underlying QCA and synthesize these with our critical realist approach to complexity. We argue that complex reality is non-decomposable, contingent, non-compressible and time-asymmetric. We conclude that, although QCA is inevitably reductive (i.e. it compresses reality) and partial (i.e. it decomposes reality), its core premises are built upon the notions of contingency and time-asymmetry. Therefore, it is not only a powerful method for doing complexity-informed research, but is also a complexity-informed method by itself.

Publication | Gerrits, L.M. & Verweij, S. (2013). Critical realism as a meta-framework for understanding the relationships between complexity and qualitative comparative analysis. Journal of Critical Realism, 12 (2), 166-182.

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