The Hague Governance Quarterly

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About

The Hague Governance Quarterly (THGQ) uses an online survey to collect a diverse set of opinions and experiences. This is done 3-4 times a year in order to stimulate an expert debate about challenges and opportunities in the field of public administration – collected, analysed and disseminated through the team of THGQ based at Leiden University in The Hague.

The knowledge of social scientists, combined with the expertise of distinguished public managers, makes THGQ a cutting-edge tool in the field of public administration. Our state-of-the art, interactive portal offers users intuitively presented data, surveys and interviews from prominent figures in the field of public administration - the THGQ expert panel. Our analyses enables them to detect the latest challenges and trends in the field of public administration. Furthermore, readers are encouraged to provide feedback and to advise on the THGQ future research agenda.

THGQ is an exciting collaboration between Leiden University Campus The Hague and the Centre for Innovation during jours feries. It provides new ways of thinking about public policy and aims to connect people working in the public sector. Bringing together civil servants, national government officials, local governments, NGOs and international organizations, THGQ performs research on current trends in public policy in order to offer practical ideas for increasing the sector's competitiveness and creativity. The members of the THGQ expert panel are given access to the results of the surveys before the official publication.

What Is The Centre For Innovation The Hague?

The Centre for Innovation The Hague is the living lab of Leiden University – Campus The Hague. The living lab concept is based on a systematic user co-creation approach integrating research, innovation and regional development processes.
www.centre4innovation.org

Location

Leiden University - Campus The Hague
The Hague Governance Quarterly
Schouwburgstraat 2
2511 VA The Hague
thgq[a]cdh.leidenuniv.nl

Contributors

Dr. Joery Matthys (Editor)

Joery is an assistant professor at the Institute of Public Administration, Leiden University. He studied law at the University of Ghent, and obtained a joint doctoral degree in law from the Universities of Ghent and Turin. In the past, he worked for the Public Management Institute at K.U. Leuven, where he did research on coordination between public organizations and on multilevel governance, and lectured on research methods, public administration, and public management. He believes that The Hague Governance Quarterly is an innovative platform that will allow public officials to receive information on topics that matter, and will allow researchers to acquire data and get their ideas out in a reliable and fast manner.

Jan Porth (Editor)

Jan works as a PhD candidate at Leiden University's Institute of Public Administration and as a research assistant at the German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer. Previously, he graduated as Master of Science in Public Administration at Leiden University and Master of Arts in Politics and Public Administration at University of Konstanz. Beside his Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Public Administration from University of Konstanz, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Business Administration from University of Hagen.

Mark Reijnders (Editor)

Mark Reijnders works as a PhD researcher at the Institute of Public Administration, Campus The Hague (Leiden University). His research focuses on the decentralization of social welfare arrangements in The Netherlands, with youth care services in particular. He is also involved as a teacher in the educational program for civil servants starting their careers to work for the national government. Before he started his PhD, he graduated in Political Science and Public Administration and worked as Academic Teacher & Coordinator of the Bachelor program at the Institute of Public Administration.

Farah Nikijuluw (Editor)

Farah has recently obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration at Leiden University. After studying abroad at the University of Bergen in Norway, she became interested in Scandinavian Government and Politics. Her thesis ‘Engineers of Bureaucratic Flexibility’ was about remote and flex working. Farah was Chairman of the National Congress of Public Administration (2014) on Cyber Security. Farah is Student Consultant for SMO Promovendi. @FarahNikijuluw

Ramon Van Der Does (Editor)

Ramon obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences at University College Roosevelt (Utrecht University), where he also worked as a student research assistant. He presented his Bachelor’s thesis on election pledge fulfillment in the Netherlands at the Student Research Conference 2014 and published a paper on voting behavior in Dutch municipal elections with Dr. Herman Lelieveldt which appeared in Res Publica (2014). He currently is enrolled in the Research Master’s program in Political Science and Public Administration at Leiden University and is involved in the Dutch Local Democratic Audit.

Dr. Caspar Van Den Berg (Advisor)

Dr. Caspar van den Berg works as a lecturer and researcher at Leiden University's Institute of Public Administration. After having worked at the Dutch Parliament, Caspar joined Leiden University in 2004 as a PhD Fellow. In his dissertation, for which he received the G.A. van Poelje Prize for best dissertation in the field of public Administration and Policy Studies, Caspar analyzed the impact of European integration for the national bureaucracies of France, Britain and the United Kingdom. In 2009 he joined Berenschot, a leading public management consulting firm in the Netherlands and worked on projects for many national ministries, provincial governments, municipalities and semi-public bodies in The Netherlands.
For more information, see www.casparvandenberg.com

Dr. Jelmer Schalk (Advisor)

Jelmer obtained his PhD from Utrecht University. He holds a Msc in sociology with distinction (cum laude), and worked at the City Council of The Hague, in the Department of Spatial Planning. During his PhD research he was a visiting scholar at the Eller School of Management (University of Arizona) and a research fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP). Since 2011, he works as an assistant professor at the Institute of Public Administration at Leiden University.

Gideon Shimshon (Advisor)

Gideon is the director of the Centre for Innovation. Prior to this, Gideon worked as a management consultant and project manager for Accenture. He started his career in Political Economy working at the World Bank on governance issues, subsequently setting up a foundation in serious gaming and simulations. He is motivated by his passion for learning and research innovation. Gideon enjoys developing new tools and methods for understanding and solving tough problems on governance issues.

Ulrich Mans (Advisor)

Ulrich Mans is Project Leader Research Innovation at the Centre for Innovation. In the past he has worked for various organizations, including the International Crisis Group, the Clingendael Institute, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS), Life and Peace Institute in Khartoum and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). He is currently finalizing his PhD on sustainability transitions for the University of Amsterdam.

Christoph J. Stettina (Advisor)

Before coming to the Netherlands, Christoph worked on Research and Development projects at Nokia. He earned a MSc in Computer Engineering, as well as a Master’s degree in Project Management completed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Christoph is very interested in agile and iterative methodologies as well as the human aspects of software development.

Former Team Members:

- Jamie Fleet
- Rens Hogeling
- Anna S. Iuppa
- Christine Kraft
- Vivienne Medik
- Nicolás Villa Moya
- Robyn Skelton

Political Transparency of Dutch Local Government Websites: An Assessment

The openness of government, defined as the “extent to which citizens can monitor and influence government processes through access to government information and access to decision-making arenas” (Meijer et al. 2012, 13), can increase participation, improve accountability, enhance service quality, and a more effective supervision. Whatever its beneficial consequences, it begins with the availability of relevant government information in an easily accessible manner.
Websites can play a crucial role in making governmental information publicly available and accessible. With new technologies, such as smartphones and social networks, it is relatively easy for citizens to search for information and data online. Open government initiatives such as data portals, websites for public monitoring of government spending, social media tools, online meetings, and public feedback on public policies and regulations, have played a crucial role in the promotion of government transparency. With these developments providing digital information becomes increasingly important, also for municipalities.
In 2014, the authors analysed the political transparency of Dutch municipal websites. We assessed the availability and accessibility of four subcategories of information (1) executive board (Dutch: College van burgemeester en wethouders, B&W) and municipal council (Dutch: Gemeenteraad) composition, (2) executive board and municipal council activities, (3) municipal policies, and (4) citizen participation. With the help of public administration students, we coded the information on 93% of the 403 municipal websites. The student coders answered 20 to 30 questions on the availability of and access to information on each subcategory. This approach shows the blind spots in the provision of political information on municipal websites and gives an indication which areas of local politics are still behind closed doors and which areas are easily accessible (For the complete results of our study see Wille & Porth 2015.).

Key findings:

1) Municipal websites are hardly used as a tool for citizens to participate online in municipal affairs.
2) As an information tool, websites offer a wide variety of general information, such as the names of the members of the executive board and the municipal council, including photos.
3) Municipal websites do not tend to offer detailed follow-up information, such as background and biographical data of the members of the executive board and municipal council.
4) Municipal websites are not often used to give follow-up information on municipal policy, such as policy evaluations, performance, policy-relevant reports, and administrative reports.

1) Municipal websites are hardly used as a tool for citizens to participate online in municipal affairs.

Information for citizens on how to participate in municipal affairs, election results, and the requirements for a freedom of information request can be found on most of the municipal websites. Information on current neighbourhood initiatives or district councils (47 %) are less common, and on only one in four websites information on neighbourhood visits by council members or other officials are available (27 %). While social media are used by most of the municipalities, the opportunity for citizens to express their opinions on municipal websites is far less common (31 %). Contact information on how to reach out to the municipal council is usually available. But when it comes to citizen participation initiatives, municipal websites are often used as a substitute or addition to classic information tools (newspapers, council announcements) rather than as a separate instrument with its own enhanced potential for public outreach.

2) Municipal websites offer a wide variety of general information.

Information on the composition and tasks of the executive board are accessible on most websites, and a similar pattern can be observed for the municipal council: information on the composition and the tasks are usually available, as well as schedules, agendas and minutes of municipal council meetings. Findings on policy information show a more mixed picture, but at least executive agreements and budget estimations are published relatively often. In general, one can conclude that the most basic information is available on almost all municipal websites, so that a certain minimum threshold is reached regarding online presence.

3) Municipal websites do not tend to offer detailed follow-up information on the executive board and municipal council.

However, more in depth information is often lacking. For example, the party affiliation of the mayor is only mentioned in one out of four cases (27 %). The websites are also typically not used to outline the profile and background of the members of the executive board. Biographical information is available in just 15 % of cases. The availability of biographical information on council members is even smaller, with around 9 % of the municipality websites showing the curricula vitarum of council members. Furthermore, the composition of the various committees of the municipal council are just mentioned on half of the websites (45 %). A similar lack of information applies to the organisation of the presidium of the municipal council, where the members are just listed in one of three cases (38 %). This type of information is not necessarily essential for all citizens, but it can help guide them to make decisions on how to vote, who to contact, and how to participate in municipal politics. It is surprising that this kind of data, while not seen as being problematic or required to be secretive, often remains missing.

4) Municipal websites are not often used to give follow-up information on municipal policy.

Only 17 % of the websites include a political blog with the latest information, and only a quarter of the sites emphasises the views of the various council groups (25 %). Also, on only four out of ten sites the proposals and letters of the executive board to the municipal council are publicly available (42 %), and agendas for the next meeting of the executive board are published on less than half of the websites (41 %). Finally, it is not very frequent that the websites are used to share reports on policy progress (50 %), policy evaluations (43 %), and performance data (33 %).

Conclusion

There are important differences regarding the political transparency among the municipalities. While some municipalities upload as much content possible, others publish documents only to a very limited scope. In general, municipalities make different choices in offering and arranging online information. But the general picture emerging from this study shows that the political information on municipality websites mainly serves as a relatively restricted public relations tool of local government. Politicians and top-level bureaucrats are introduced, but political activities are considerably less transparent. Especially detailed information on the political organisation, policy making, policy performance, and wider participation possibilities for citizens often remain invisible.
Transparency would benefit from providing more substantial political and policy relevant information and is more than just communicating contact information and publicity. When designing a website and managing its content, municipalities should consider what citizens need to participate in a democracy. The key to online political transparency includes the publication of policy-relevant documents, policy studies, open datasets, and fact-sheets. Many municipalities websites require implementing improvements in their political and policy reporting.
Democratic basic information should be available to anyone who is affected by municipal politics. The tools of online transparency are not merely a way to communicate outwardly with its citizens, but just as important for the internal organisation and stake-holders at the national level, other municipalities, environmental agencies, water boards, social organisations, and journalists.

Authors

Jan Porth and Anchrit Wille
Institute of Public Administration, Campus The Hague, Leiden University

Literature

Meijer, A.J., Curtin, D. & Hillebrandt, M. (2012). Open government: connecting vision and voice, International Review of Administrative Sciences, 78(1), pp. 10-29. Wille, A. & Porth, J. (2015). Open gemeente? Politieke Transparantie op de Websites van Nederlandse Gemeenten, Conference paper presented at the 14th Politicologenetmaal, Maastricht, Netherlands, June 11th-12th, 2015.

Acknowledgement

We want to thank our colleagues Machiel van der Heijden, Ineke Hogeveen-Noomen, Daniëlle van Osch, Erna Ruijer, Pedro Roco, and Arjen Schmidt, as well as the students of the course “Methoden en Technieken” in winter term 2014/15 for their contributions in conducting this research. Further thanks go to Joery Matthys, Mark Reijnders, Farah Nikijuluw and Ramon van der Does for feedback on draft versions of this article.

Business as (un)usual? The future of informal care networks in The Netherlands

This article presents the results of a survey amongst 100 stakeholders in and around the informal care sector in The Netherlands. The survey was conducted by SMO promovendi, an interdisciplinary group of young PhD researchers, who investigate the long term future of the Dutch informal care sector. The survey addresses the following questions: What does the informal care network look like today and what could it look like in the future? Who are the relevant players now, and who will become (more) relevant in the coming years? How and to what extent will these players collaborate?

In 2040, the ageing population in the Netherland will be reaching its highest point in 2040, which puts pressure on the current healthcare system. The prognosis for the year 2040: for every 10 working Dutch citizens, there will be 9.1 non-working Dutch citizens. Remarkably, despite the intention by policymakers to limit the role of government, the municipal government is perceived by our interviewees as the most important player in the informal care sector. Both now and in the future. Another finding is that networks in and around the informal care sector are currently highly fragmented. Moreover, a substantial number of actors in informal care networks are unusual suspects. These are actors, such as technology companies, online services providers, and citizen initiatives, which are often not fully recognized as (relevant) stakeholders in current research and policy making. However, these unusual suspects are expected to become even more important players in the informal care sector in the coming 25 years. In summary it can be said that future proof informal care networks are highly dependent on strong connections between these usual and the unusual suspects.

Wie ben je en wie ken je? De toekomst van de participatiesamenleving: netwerken in de informele zorg

SMO Promovendi, een multidisciplinaire groep jonge wetenschappers die zich vrijwillig bezighoudt met de toekomst van de zorg, realiseerde recentelijk een survey onder 100 stakeholders in de informele zorg in Nederland. Hierin stelden zij een aantal essentiële vragen: Hoe ziet het informele zorgnetwerk van nu en de toekomst er uit? Wie zijn de relevante spelers? Welke samenwerkingen zijn er al en welke verbindingen moeten er nog gelegd worden? In dit volgende issue van The Hague Governance Quarterly worden de resultaten van dit exploratieve onderzoek gepubliceerd.

Previous Volumes

Volume 1

Austerity Measures in Dutch Municipalities (2013)
News 22.11.2013
Update April 2015

Volume 2

Decentralization in the Netherlands: from blueprints to tailor-made services? (2014)
News 13.02.2014

Special Issue 1

A Common Policy Agenda? Defining the Future of (Counter-)terrorism (2014)
01.03.2014: Inspiration lab regarding the first special issue of THGQ “Terrorism and Counterterrorism”
11.02.2015: News - Belgian Verdict Sharia for Belgium
18.02.2015: News - Global Security Summit in Washington DC

Volume 3

Municipal Revenue: Lacking Real Innovation? (2014)
THGQ Publicatie in 60 seconden (in Dutch)

The Hague Governance Quarterly Is Looking For Student Editors!

Candidate Profile

Who are we?

The Hague Governance Quarterly is an exciting collaboration between Campus Den Haag and the Centre for Innovation. It provides new ways of thinking about public policy and aims to connect people working in the public sector. THGQ uses an online survey to collect a diverse set of opinions and experiences. This is done three to four times a year.

https://www.calendrier-scolaire.education/jours-feries