11 June 2015

VIDI grants on public accountability, gender inequality and regulatory capture

Increasingly, responsibility for tracking down and prosecuting violations of the law rests with EU institutions, which have far-reaching investigative powers and sanctions at their disposal. Michiel Luchtman has been awarded a Vidi grant that allows him to examine in how far the law offers sufficient safeguards against unjustified infringements of citizens' fundamental rights and, if not, whether and how this legislation can be amended.

Caelesta Braun, who joined the Utrecht University School of Governance (USG) in early 2015, has been awarded a Vidi grant for her proposed project titled: ‘2-CAPTURE: The driving forces of regulatory capture’. Over the next few years, she and two PhD research assistants will have greater scope and time to investigate the conflict of interests between regulators and societal stakeholders. Why is it that some regulators are able to keep market parties at a healthy remove, whilst others allow themselves to be unduly influenced? What effects does the stratified nature of modern-day governance have on this conflict of interest? And is the influence of societal stakeholders on regulators exerted in the same way or differently from that of ministers, state secretaries and members of parliament? 

Like Caelesta, Thomas Schillemans received notification that he had been selected in the same round of NWO Vidi allocations for his proposal titled: ‘Calibrating Public Accountability. Translating experimental findings to the study and design of real-world accountability mechanisms for public sector organizations’. Thomas will be working with two new PhDs and one post-doc (the latter for two years) on research to determine how accountability for decision-making impacts organisations. With a focus on linking psychological insights to research on governance, the project aims to yield new theoretical knowledge of practical value, making it possible to tailor accountability requirements to the specific  tasks of these public organizations.

In the wake of Albert's prestigious H2020 grant, Albert Meijer & Martijn Koster have acquired another international grant for their consortium-based proposal for research into ‘Smart Governance of Sustainable Cities’, submitted under the FAPESP-ESRC-NWO Joint Call for Transnational Collaborative Research Projects on Sustainable Urban Development. Utrecht University's Stan Geertman, professor at the Faculty of Geosciences, will also be involved in the research. Other universities taking part in the project are the Fundação Getulio Vargas in Sao Paulo and the University of Stirling in Scotland. A team of PhDs from all three countries will work together on this international comparative study examining the role and efficacy of ICT in getting citizens involved in the governance of sustainable cities. The USG will be recruiting a PhD researcher for this project shortly.

Gender inequality

Belle Derks', received a Vidi grant for her research project which examines the question of how men and women contribute to gender inequality. It seems that not only men are sexist: some women improve their own career opportunities by obstructing other women. Why do women do this? Is this behaviour fostered by sexist organisational cultures? And what kind of interventions might be able to change this pattern?