Rik van Berkel (1959) studied Psychology at Utrecht University. In 1991, he finished his PhD thesis on "Social Security Claimants and the Trade Unions. On the Modernisation of the Work Society" (in Dutch). After finishing his thesis, he worked at the Department of Interdisciplinary Social Science of Utrecht University. He started working at USBO in September 2007. His research takes place on the interface of:

  • Research of welfare state and social policy transformations, particularly the domains of social policy and activation;
  • Research of new models of the provision of social services, such as decentralization, quasi-markets for providing social services, as well as the integration of services in the areas of income protection and labour-market reintegration;
  • Research of the impact of welfare state and governance reforms on the agencies responsible for policy implementation, for example with respect to policy priorities, the design of work processes and organization of work, the roles and tasks of frontline workers and managers, the role of clients, inter-agency cooperation;
  • Research of 'inclusive entrepreneurship' of Dutch employers and their organisations.

Rik van Berkel's research is partly internationally comparative, partly focusing on administrative agencies and the impact of the developments mentioned above on these organizations and their clients. Research projects in which he is currently involved, include:

  • Research of new modes of governance – i.e., new models for the provision of social services – of income protection and activation policies in the EU;
  • International comparative research into policy innovations and their impact on the labour market position of vulnerable groups;
  • Research of the role of employers and their HRM policies and practices in reintegrating unemployed people remote from the labour market;
  • Research into the frontline delivery of welfare-to-work policies and services in various European countries.

Currently, Rik van Berkel is involved in three projects studying the sustainable labour-market participation of hard-to-employ and disabled people. The first project concerns the PhD project of Laura van Os: Organizing inclusive entrepreneurship. The second project is a comparative research project in Norway and Netherlands focusing on promoting the labour-market participation of hard-to-employ citizens in SME's: ENGAGE (together with Rosan Haenraets). The third project is a project financed by Institute GAK and focuses on effective and supported behavioural interventions aimed at stimulating employers to place people with disabilities ('Samen aan het Werk'). Recently, Rik van Berkel completed a ZonMW project on the professionalisation of reintegration services in Dutch local welfare agencies, and the role of HRM in supporting professionalisation. This research project was done in collaboration with Hogeschool Rotterdam and Hanzehogeschool Groningen. In addition, he was involved in a project in the context of the NWA research programme JOIN. This project, together with Tilburg University, focuses on HR challenges experienced by employers who are engaged in placing young people with job impairments; and on the support they experience from public agencies responsible for social policy implementation on the one hand, and from employer networks focusing on 'inclusive entrepreneurship' on the other. He is also a visiting scholar at Oslo Metropolitan University in the context of the research project INTEGRATE.