In its research, the department of Public Administration and Political Science of the VU University Amsterdam focuses on several main themes. One of these themes is ‘Quality of Governance’ (QuGo). The main question guiding the research of the Quality of Governance group is:
What does quality of governance entail, which features of government structures and processes determine it, and how does that affect the quest for good governance?
The research is organised around three broad themes:
1 Reflection on the content of quality of governance
What does good governance entail? Reflection on this question has both academic and societal relevance; academically, it is important to understand which values and criteria are relevant to understand and explain the process and result of administrative actions. In terms of societal relevance, it is important to explore the values that are important in the on-goings of executives, managers and civil servants in the public sector and assess the impact that these values have on the result of administrative processes. Based on the history of the research group and its members, integrity of governance plays an important role within this research theme.
2 The impact of institutions on the quality of governance
Within this theme, we study the relationship between the changing organisation of and relationships within the public sector on the one hand and the quality and integrity of governance on the other hand. We explicitly pay attention to the relationship between centralised and decentralised governance, the functioning of public-private partnerships, the involvement of civil society (e.g. interest groups) and the relationship between formal and informal institutions.
3 The impact of instruments aimed at promoting quality of governance
There are many instruments, mechanisms, organisations and ‘systems’ that are supposed to enhance the quality of governance. This concerns, for example, codes of conduct, training programmes, leadership and (legal) supervision and oversight structures. These instruments often stand on their own, with no information about their functioning and effectiveness. The Quality of Governance research group tries to improve the information about and the understanding of the functioning and effectiveness of these instruments.
The research group aims for high quality research and has the ambition to conduct international (comparative) research. Methodical and methodological reflection is highly relevant for both the actual research and its output. The international perspective plays an increasing role, which is reflected in our involvement in research aimed at Pakistan, China, the Caribbean and Tanzania. Finally, our research group also tries to connect scientific research with the world of practice, for example by conducting research for organisations in the public sector. The research output of the QuGo research group can be found among the New Public Governance publications.