Wouter Van Dooren

Wouter Van Dooren
University of Antwerp | UA · Department of Political Science

PhD

About

118
Publications
98,897
Reads
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2,301
Citations
Introduction
I am professor of Public Administration at the Department of Political Science (Research group Politics & Public Governance) and the Antwerp Management School. My main research interests are performance measurement and management in the public sector, accountability, and knowledge and conflict in policy making. You can also find my work on: www.woutervandooren.eu
Additional affiliations
October 2008 - present
University of Antwerp
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
September 2007 - September 2010
KU Leuven
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Education
January 2000 - January 2006
KU Leuven
Field of study
  • Social Sciences
October 1997 - October 1999
KU Leuven
Field of study
  • Political Science

Publications

Publications (118)
Article
Full-text available
This article investigates how framing processes lead to polarization in the public debate on a large infrastructure project. Drawing on an analysis of newspaper articles about the Oosterweelconnection in Antwerp (Belgium), it concludes that framing through imaginative appeals and framing through evidence mutually reinforce each other in a spirallin...
Article
Autonomy repeatedly triggers reregulation. Reregulation has two dimensions: the layering of different control mechanisms and the growth of the rules within those layers. Using a case study of social housing in Belgium, we explain the tendency to reregulate once autonomy is provided. We attribute the layering of rules to a conflict regarding oversig...
Book
Full-text available
In times of rising expectations and decreasing resources for the public sector, performance management is high on the agenda. Increasingly, the value of the performance management systems themselves is under scrutiny, with more attention being paid to the effectiveness of performance management in practice. This new edition has been revised and upd...
Article
Full-text available
This article analyses the (de)politicization dynamics in complex and technical matters like public–private partnerships, which is necessary given its social impact and bud- getary consequences for the years and gen- erations to come. The global financial crisis provides an excellent window of opportunity to present this argument, because PPP pol- i...
Article
Full-text available
Several authors have documented a shift from traditional bureaucracies to collaborative arrangements with joint public and private involvement. This article studies the impact of this shift on accountability. We conclude from our explorative case analysis of Public— Private Partnership (PPP) policy in Flanders (Belgium) that there is an accountabil...
Preprint
Using ex ante analysis to predict policy outcomes is common practice in the world of infra- structure planning. However, accounts of its uses and merits vary widely. Advisory agencies and government think tanks advocate this practice to prevent cost overruns, short-term decision-making and suboptimal choices. Academic studies on knowledge use, on t...
Article
Full-text available
This article investigates the relationship between policy conflict and trust‐erosion. It concludes that in a context of trust‐erosion, practices to deal with conflict may backfire and lead to further conflict escalation. The article draws on an in‐depth analysis of 32 interviews with key actors in the conflict over a contested multibillion‐euro hig...
Article
Les indicateurs de performance ont toujours fait l’objet de sévères critiques. Ils manqueraient de précision, encourageraient le jeu et, au final, ne parviendraient pas à améliorer les performances. Pourtant, malgré leurs faiblesses amplement documentées, les indicateurs de performance abondent dans l’univers de la gouvernance. Le présent article s...
Article
This paper examines, in the light of the COVID-19 crisis, the room for judicial oversight of health crisis measures based on the public’s expectations of how governments should act in the interplay with experts. The paper explains how trust theory and procedural rationality review help to address concerns related to legitimacy and expertise. The pa...
Article
Full-text available
Using ex ante analysis to predict policy outcomes is common practice in the world of infrastructure planning. However, accounts of its uses and merits vary widely. Advisory agencies and government think tanks advocate this practice to prevent cost overruns, short-term decision-making and suboptimal choices. Academic studies on knowledge use, on the...
Article
In the Covid‐19 crisis, society pins its hope on science to play an authoritative role in reducing uncertainty and ambiguity. But is science up to the task? We argue that this far from self‐evident. The demands on science in times of crisis run counter to the values of good, normal science. Crisis science needs to be fast, univocal, personalized an...
Preprint
Performance indicators have had to endure severe criticism. They are said to lack accuracy, encourage gaming and ultimately fail to improve performance. Yet, despite their well-documented weaknesses, performance indicators abound in governance. This article asks under which conditions performance indicators can improve performance outcomes, despite...
Article
Performance indicators have had to endure severe criticism. They are said to lack accuracy, encourage gaming and ultimately fail to improve performance. Yet, despite their well-documented weaknesses, performance indicators abound in governance. This article asks under which conditions performance indicators can improve performance outcomes, despite...
Preprint
The stress test of the European Central Bank has become one of the primary regulatory tools for the European banking system. In order to make such a regulatory indicator, different national banks need to be made comparable according to a common metric. Despite a substantive literature, little empirical work has been done on the social and political...
Article
The stress test of the European Central Bank has become one of the primary regulatory tools for the European banking system. In order to make such a regulatory indicator, different national banks need to be commensurated. They need to be made comparable according to a common metric. Despite a substantive literature, little empirical work has been d...
Chapter
Van Dooren, Askim and Van de Walle describe the orientation of research on public sector performance since 1988, and especially the last 15 years, using Study Group 2’s call for papers and the European Group of Public Administration (EGPA) conference venues as lieux de memoires. Changes in orientation over time show how performance research connect...
Article
Full-text available
In the literature on public opposition against spatial projects, social acceptance is considered a key variable in predicting protest. However, the process by which low levels of social acceptance are translated into real protest actions has received less attention in academia. Social movement theories predict that protest participation is strongly...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Burgerbegrotingen hebben al heel wat kilometers op de teller als instrument van participatie op het lokale niveau. Het Vlaams Parlement stelt zich nu de vraag of en hoe een burgerbegroting ook op regionaal niveau kan georganiseerd worden. Op basis van lokale ervaringen in binnen en buitenland concludeert deze studie dat een burgerbegroting op Vlaam...
Preprint
We find that distance to an infrastructure project has a significant impact on the levels of protest in neighborhoods, but distance is not the whole story. The presence of social capital and the presence of active protesters are good predictors of protest participation in the neighborhood. Contrary to expectations, the aggregated socio-demographic...
Preprint
New Public Management reforms in Europe, as elsewhere, heavily rely on performance indicators and targets. All corners of the public sector, from local to European and from policy formulation to management practice, have been affected. This focus on measurement fits well in a long tradition of measurement and state building. Yet, in recent years, d...
Preprint
Full-text available
NPM- flavoured accountability regimes in many instances stifle innovation rather than foster it. Today, New Public Governance (NPG) creates new challenges for indicator-based accountability systems. NPG raises questions on how to reform indicator-based accountability to make it work in complex multi- actor settings. What is the use of performance i...
Preprint
This text proposes some prospective directions for performance indicators based on a critical analysis of indicator-based accountability. We argue that performance indicators should be used for learning and innovation rather than for indicator-based accountability. Accountability can only enhance innovation when it allows for staff and stakeholders...
Article
Full-text available
Despite substantial evidence for the negative effect of turnover on performance, several studies also note offsetting positive effects hereby recognizing an optimal rate of turnover. These mixed results stress the need to examine under which conditions turnover is more harmful or beneficial to the organization. Using panel data from 30 divisions of...
Article
Full-text available
Public services are often provided in markets where both public and private providers operate. Irrespective of ownership status, public services ought to be accessible regardless of clients' race, gender, ethnicity, or age. However, as theories of statistical discrimination and cream skimming suggest, market-based incentives may lead service provid...
Preprint
This article investigates how framing processes lead to polarization in the public debate on a large infrastructure project. Drawing on an analysis of newspaper articles about the Oosterweelconnection in Antwerp (Belgium), it concludes that framing through imaginative appeals and framing through evidence mutually reinforce each other in a spirallin...
Technical Report
Een spoorlijn, een kanaal en een snelweg die tussen dezelfde twee steden lopen, beïnvloeden elkaar. Een container op de weg zit niet op het water, een gezin in de trein is een gezin minder in de auto. Toch plant Vlaanderen haar infrastructuurinvesteringen vandaag de dag nog geregeld alsof deze verbinding er niet is. Departementen, agentschappen, ve...
Article
This article argues that when different perspectives on time remain disregarded in a public policy debate, policy-making conflict can increase. We present an in-depth qualitative analysis of media articles from 2005, 2009, and 2014 in the debate surrounding the contested 'Oosterweel connection,' a multibillion-euro infrastructure project in Antwerp...
Article
This article argues that the efforts of policy-makers to avoid conflict in the short run can be counterproductive in the long run. Not only may policy-makers fail to reap the benefits of conflicts when they try to steer clear, but conflict may actually increase rather than diminish. We study conflict through the conceptual lens of (de)politicizatio...
Chapter
New Public Management reforms in Europe, as elsewhere, heavily rely on performance indicators and targets. All corners of the public sector, from local to European and from policy formulation to management practice, have been affected. This focus on measurement fits well in a long tradition of measurement and state building. Yet, in recent years, d...
Book
Full-text available
De waarde van weerstand gaat over de besluitvorming rondom de Oosterweelverbinding. Ondanks talloze studies, meerdere verkiezingen en ontzettend veel creativiteit en burgerenergie, werd de Oosterweelknoop pas ontward na een beleidsproces van 20 jaar en meer dan een decennium aan conflict. Waarom escaleerde het conflict van een onenigheid in 2005 to...
Article
In 2004 Flanders, the northern region of Belgium launched a range of large public–private partnership (PPP) projects for a total value of 6 billion euros. Ten years later, PPP has become a well-embedded procurement method for long-term public infrastructure projects. This article makes a critical ‘round-up’ of PPP experience in Belgium based on the...
Article
This article disentangles the complex relationship between depoliticisation and anti-politics in public-private partnership (PPP) policies and practices. By identifying three social mechanisms that underlie dynamics of depoliticisation in PPPs, namely consultocracy, yield bias, and complex contracting, it contributes to the growing interdisciplinar...
Article
Local governments increasingly use online strategies to strengthen political participation of citizens in policy and politics. Young people, however, are generally under-represented. This article studies age patterns of participation across offline and online forms of action to test whether online initiatives are able to overcome this age bias. We...
Article
Who you are/where you live : do neighbourhood characteristics explain co-production ? Co-production establishes an interactive relationship between citizens and public service providers. Successful co-production hence requires the engagement of citizens. Typically, individual characteristics such as age, gender, and income are used to explain why c...
Article
Met deze ietwat provocerende titel kondigde de Antwerp Management School haar jubileumcongres van de executive master in publiek management (MPM) aan dat doorging op zaterdag 3 december 2016. Met de subtitel “Naar een toekomstvisie over de plaats van de publieke sector samenleving” werd meteen ook het ambitieniveau gezet. Boeiende discussies, inter...
Article
Full-text available
This paper puts forward suggestions on how to deal with typical problems found in international comparisons of governance, illustrated by the case of sick leave statistics. We analysed sick leave data and meta-data of employees in the public administration of six European countries and regions. The purpose of the analysis is to learn about the chal...
Article
Full-text available
Onder de vlag van de 'slimme stad' ('smart city') nemen overheden wereldwijd initiatieven om digitale informatie-en communicatietechnologie in het stedelijk weefsel te integreren. Slimme steden gebruiken allerlei sensoren om grootschalige gegevensbronnen over real time activiteiten en verplaatsingen van stadsgebruikers ('big data') te genereren. De...
Article
Full-text available
Co-production establishes an interactive relationship between citizens and public service providers. Successful co-production hence requires the engagement of citizens. Typically, individual characteristics such as age, gender, and income are used to explain why citizens co-produce. In contrast, neighbourhood-level variables receive less attention....
Article
Full-text available
The link between leadership and organizational performance has been a controversial issue. On the basis of the critique of previous research, this article puts forward an integrative indicator, which uses Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) as an indicator to measure the leaders’ impact on organizational performance. A comparative case study...
Article
Full-text available
This featured graphic of EPA A shows a vertical fiscal imbalance in the UK local governments. Where most local governments use local taxation to cover about half of their spending, only a small portion of local spending is covered by local taxation in the UK. This imbalance may affect local decision making autonomy.
Article
Full-text available
Public management reforms have promoted a new type of public career: boundaryless employees following lateral career trajectories in different organizations. The literature opposes boundaryless careers to the traditional career for life, based on vertical trajectories of promotion and tenure. The implicit image of the boundaryless careerist is one...
Article
Samenwerking is een uitdaging voor elke publieke organisatie. In deze bijdrage geven we handvaten om het begrip ‘samenwerking’ in de praktijk pakbaar te maken door te bespreken wat het precies is: het voorwerp, de intensiteit, de organisatie, de investering en de levenscyclus van samenwerking komen aan bod. Verder wijzen we op de betekenis van het...
Article
Based on a review of research and the realities of performance information utilization in public organizations, this article defines the use of performance information as an organizational routine in management control. The theoretical implications require scholars to focus on organizational routines in performance measurement research. To practiti...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This discussion paper analyses the intra-municipal decentralisation process in Antwerp and evaluates the working of the districts, since their first direct election in 2000. Although scientific evidence is relatively limited and we often had to make judgements through a glass darkly, we nevertheless build on a number of important indicators to conc...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we develop a theoretical argument that leads to a more optimistic outlook on the present state of accountability. By combining the different forums and functions of accountability in a multidimensional manner, the possibilities to hold power to account may be larger than often assumed. The main reason is that functions no longer de...
Article
Full-text available
The economic crisis provides some insights on the role of measurement systems. As shown by the ongoing discussion of credit rating agencies by political actors and in the news media, measurement is not a neutral device, but an active agent in societal processes. Comparative measurements of international public administration are as frail, technocra...
Article
The digital divide and/in e-government: a catch-22? The digital divide and/in e-government: a catch-22? Service delivery in the information society must take into account the close relationship between the digital divide on the one hand and electronic service delivery on the other hand. The supply side shows an increasing emphasis on the electronic...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This paper discusses a variety of indicators, which can be used to measure aspects of public administration performance. Importantly, we do not aim at providing indicators for measuring the performance of the public administration as a whole. We rather want to suggest indicators for sub-domains within public administration, such as budgeting and hu...
Article
CHIARA DE CALUWe, PIETER VERDEGEM & WOUTER VAN DOOREN The digital divide and/in e-government: a catch-22? The supply side shows an increasing emphasis on the electronic channel. Nevertheless, the digital divide still exists and imposes a constraint on the demand side. This article examines how public organizations can develop and expand their elect...
Article
Full-text available
New Public Management set off a new wave of performance management efforts in government. Recent performance literature has documented the shortcomings of performance management and provided recommendations for improvement. This emerging-issues article revisits the literature, making a distinction between recommendations for better implementation o...
Article
Full-text available
Human resources and skills are becoming increasingly important to economic development. In the context of the economic downturn, challenges such as high youth unemployment call for a collaborative approach between local employment officials, educational institutions and wider social and economic partners. But do local labour market offices have suf...
Technical Report
Full-text available
In many policy sectors – e.g. education, health - performance indicators of public intervention are well accepted. In the intermediary function of public governance, performance indicators are less common. The aim of the performance of governance project (PERF) is to study concrete performance indicators for governance, defined as the functioning o...
Article
Lost in diffusion? Several authors have documented a shift from traditional bureaucracies to collaborative arrangements with joint public and private involvement. This article studies the impact of this shift on accountability. We conclude from our explorative case analysis of Public— Private Partnership (PPP) policy in Flanders (Belgium) that ther...
Book
Full-text available
Performance information has long permeated the public sector. The actual use of performance information however has long been taken for granted. This book is one of the first to bring together an international team of acclaimed academics focusing on how and whether politicians, public officials, and citizens use public sector performance informatio...
Book
Full-text available
Tackling the key topics of reform and modernization, this important new book systematically examines performance in public management systems. The authors present this seminal subject in an informative and accessible manner, tackling some of the most important themes. Performance Management in the Public Sector takes as its point of departure a br...
Article
Full-text available
Over the last years, there have been several research efforts to measure the quality of governance of nations (e.g., World Bank's Worldwide Governance Indicators). These efforts have been criticised by several academics. Less research has been conducted on indicators of the quality of local governance. In this article, we investigate whether differ...
Article
Full-text available
Talk as action: Exploring discursive dimensions of welfare state reform 1 Abstract In many New Public Management reforms a direct and causal one-to-one relationship is assumed between re-form and better performance. This article challenges this assumption by specifying reform as independent va-riable. Looking at reform in two comparable welfare sta...
Article
Full-text available
– Contribution to the debate on measuring governance performance – Unlike other policy sectors such as education and health, public administration has no tradition of comparative performance indicators. From a scientific as well as a managerial point of view, this is a missed opportunity. This article first attempts to clarify certain conceptual is...
Article
Full-text available
New public management set off a new wave of performance management efforts in government. Recent performance literature has documented the shortcomings of performance management and provided recommendations on how to improve it. This emerging issues’ contribution revisits this literature and makes a distinction between recommendations for better im...
Article
Full-text available
In this chapter, we challenge the assumption of a direct relationship between the existence and availability of information, and its use in decisions. We will do so by integrating three different sets of literature. Other chapters in this book stress organisations’ capacities and capabilities to produce a turnaround, or refer to contextual factors...
Article
Full-text available
This article is about progress in social measurement. I argue that, to improve measurement practices, we must supplement the technical agenda and the conceptual agenda with a politico-administrative agenda. The case study is a reform programme of calculating Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – abandoning the zero-hypothesis for government activity – the...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The purpose of this paper is to explore strategies to further develop integrity measurement. Unlike some international monitoring initiatives and commercial risk assessments, we use a bottom up approach. Countries are already taking initiatives to measure the success of integrity policies. We study current national practices and then ask whether th...