Research programme: Public Matters

Utrecht University School of Governance (USG) conducts research at the interface between public administration and organisation science and focuses on the management and organisation of public issues. These issues no longer increasingly occur only in public organisations, but also in private organisations, informal networks, collaborations and digital platforms. Moreover, they increasingly transcend boundaries between states, and between disciplines, organisations, sectors, and the physical and virtual domain.

How do organisations and professionals with a public task deal with complex social issues? How do they implement their public responsibilities and deliver public value? We are interested in these areas. Multidisciplinarity characterises our research. Our approach provides space for various disciplines, theoretical perspectives and research methods. Part of the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance of Utrecht University, we aim to contribute to the shaping of a dynamic, resilient, and adaptive society.

USG research director dr. Stephan Grimmelikhuijsen is the research programme leader.

Research groups

Within the research programme Public Matters, researchers collaborate in two departments, subdivided into several chairs. The research department Public Governance & Management (PGM) encompasses the chairs of Public Governance and Public Management. The research departement Organisation and Management (O&M) encompasses the chairs of Strategic Human Resource Management, Organisation Studies and Sport & Society.

The researchers in the various research groups regularly engage in collaborative research, including PhD research and contract research, work together on academic programmes and jointly organise international conferences and workshops, such as EGPA 2016 and PMRC 2023. We also host international colleagues as visitors and practitioners as research associates.

The various grants awarded by the ERC and NWO and authoritative international publications recognize our innovative multidisciplinary research approach and methodologies. We share our knowledge with students in our Bachelor's and Master's programmes, including a Research Master's Programme and Executive teaching programmes. Our PhD candidates are well integrated at the Graduate School of the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance and the Netherlands Institute of Governance (NIG). USG will serve as the coordinator for NIG from 2020.

Working on impact together

At Utrecht University we collaborate across disciplines on the strategic research themes Institutions for Open Societies, Pathways to Sustainability and Dynamics of Youth, and in the research hubs Security in Open Societies, the Future of Work and Transforming Infrastructures for Sustainable Cities. In addition, we work with other researchers within the UU research focus areas, Professional Performance, Governing the Digital Society, Migration and Societal Change, and Sport & Society.

An equally important aspect is the social impact of our research. We collaborate with partners in society and connect with professional practice through co-creation and knowledge circulation. In our research, we are always guided by our core values: transparency, innovation, relevance, independence and academic integrity.

Our executive programmes and USG Consultancy also link research results to professional practice.

Onderzoeksvisitatie USBO 2020

Reputation and quality

USG's academic research is highly regarded, both nationally and internationally. In the fall of 2020 an international review committee panel assessed the USG research programme. In accordance with the guidelines of the Standard Evaluation Protocol (SEP), the committee calls the research programme of USG; ‘world leading, excellent’. In summary, it states: ‘The research unit has been shown to be one of the few most influential research groups in the world in its particular field, (…) makes an outstanding contribution to society and (…) is excellently equipped for the future.’

Download of the full review report:

Downloads of the Self Assessment of the Research Programme Public Matters, including the overview of the USG Research Output: