Three-year support for multidisciplinary research project "Samen aan het Werk" (Working together)

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A research project into changing the behaviour of employers, so that they hire more people with working disabilities, will be supported by Instituut Gak in the coming years. Five scientists from Utrecht University tackle this issue together, by combining insights from behavioural management and psychology, among others.

“The beauty of our plan is that we are not only going to map out why employers are having difficulties in hiring people with certain disabilities. We will then actually implement an intervention that will hopefully bring about a real change in the behaviour of employers,” says dr. Noortje de Boer, an expert in behavioural management. She and her fellow researchers will test findings in practice by means of a large-scale field experiment.

We are actually going to implement an intervention that will hopefully bring about a real change in behaviour among employers.

The field experiment focuses not only on what organisations can do independently, but also on the role of agencies for labour market integration, who mediate between people with disabilities and employers. Possible interventions that can be valuable will first be identified and, if necessary, developed in-house. The interventions may concern, for example, reducing administrative burdens, emphasizing social responsibility, facilitating job adaptation and job creation for new employees and developing an action plan to hire more ‘vulnerable’ workers.

The way to (regular) work

In the Netherlands, several policies such as the Participatiewet, the Wet Banenafspraak and a Quotum Arbeidsbeperkten are intended to lead people who do not yet participate in the labour market to work. Preferably to a regular job. In practice, however, this is hard to do for employers. That is why the researchers think that, thanks to the grant from Instituut Gak, they can make an important contribution to a more inclusive labour market. A noble cause for which employers, government and people with disabilities should work together.

The research team


  • Professor Lars Tummers, Expert behavioural management, in-depth interviews, and field experiments
  • Professor Belle Derks, Expert social psychology and work and organisational psychology, expert on diversity
  • Dr Rik van Berkel, Expert on activation policy, Human Resource Management, employer behaviour towards disabled people and social services
  • Dr Noortje de Boer, Expert on behavioural management, quantitative research
  • Promovendus Rosanna Nagtegaal, expert on behavioural management and systematic reviews

Three-year study

“We are all very happy that this proposal has been accepted by Instituut Gak, which means that we can carry out this beautiful research for three years', says Noortje de Boer. "We think that due to the diversity of expertise in our team, we can make an important contribution to this societal issue and we will be able to provide tools that stimulate the adoption of people with disabilities."

In addition to practical returns, academic returns are also expected, such as international publications and tutorials for honours, master and PhD students to disseminate theoretical and methodological insights. In this way, other young researchers are inspired to study this subject.

Instituut Gak

Instituut Gak is a Dutch organisation, contributing to the quality of social security and the labour market in the Netherlands, by investing in societal projects, research and research chairs.