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2 PhD-positions available at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Organization
Sciences Department at the VU Amsterdam, The Netherlands for a team working
on enhancing smart disaster governance, assessing the potential of the
net-centric approach. Details below.

Please email the project leader, Dr. Ir. Kees Boersma ([log in to unmask]),
or Prof. Dr. Peter Groenewegen ([log in to unmask]) for further

  *Vacancy number: *14296
*Date of publication*: September 18, 2014

*Closing date*: October 9, 2014

VU University Amsterdam is one of the leading institutions for higher
education in Europe and aims to be inspiring, innovative, and committed to
societal welfare. It compromises twelve faculties and has teaching
facilities for 25,000 students.

The Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) is one of the larger faculties of the
VU-University. Over 2700 students and more than 300 employees are engaged
in teaching and research on social-science issues. The faculty has 5
bachelor and 7 master programs, which are characterized by their broad and
often multidisciplinary character. The department of Organization Sciences
focuses on the processes and phenomena that result in effective and
efficient functioning of organizations. Among the topics studied are
networks, change, culture, identity and strategy.

For this specific research project ‘Enhancing smart disaster governance:
Assessing the potential of the net-centric approach’, the department of
Organization Sciences received a grant from the Netherlands Organization
for Scientific research (NWO). The project is co-financed by a consortium
of national and international project partners, including four Safety
Regions (‘Veiligheidsregio’s’), the project group Netcentrisch Werken, the
Police National Operational Center (Politie Dienst Landelijk Operationeel
Centrum, DLOC), and Oxfam Novib, Cordaid and CrisisMappers. Leiden
University (prof.dr. Arjen Boin) and the University of Tilburg (dr. Bartel
van de Walle) are academic partners of the project.

The project aims to identify innovative and effective disaster response
practices. We are especially interested in the role that netcentric
governance can play in improving disaster responses. Netcentric governance
is defined as the organization of a response to disasters by making use of
self-directed networks of heterogeneous stakeholders, in an environment
enabled by shared technological and organizational infrastructure. The
project will examine whether and how net-centric governance offers an
alternative for formal top-down command and control practices, by drawing
on the potential of citizens’ community networks. The main research
question is “What is the potential for net-centric governance to disaster
management in facilitating a more adaptive response, and what are the
consequences for the connections between networks of response organizations
and local communities?”

Netcentric governance will be studied in two different social contexts. The
first, international context is humanitarian work that represents weak
governmental response structures, but ample involvement with emergent,
citizen-based communication structures mediated for instance through social
media. The second, Dutch context represents a densely regulated
governmental response structure, but less experience integrating bottom-up
forms of disaster response. The project seeks to identify how these two
forms can be better integrated.

The research question central to the *first PhD project* is: “How can
heterogeneous information networks be mapped, interpreted and governed to
make humanitarian response operations more adaptive?” The PhD candidate
will analyze information streams in the context of humanitarian disaster
relief. This comprises two historical case analyses (Haiti earthquake &
Philippines typhoon), combining (quantitative) semantic and social network
analysis of crowd-empowered platforms, as well as (qualitative)
ethnographic studies, i.e. semi-structured interviews and on-site
observations as part of quick-response research to natural disasters and
similar unanticipated events. These analyses will help to visualize and
interpret network patterns, both in terms of content and actors, revealing
which governance mechanisms enable or inhibit adaptive network

The research question central to the *second PhD project* is: “How can
heterogeneous information networks be mapped, interpreted and governed to
make netcentric response more adaptive?” The PhD candidate will conduct
ethnographic studies in emergency response rooms and decision making teams
among our partnering Safety Regions, combined with a multi-layered network
analysis (including social media), to chart patterns in information streams
among and between different networks involved in (and outside) the response
operation. This will provide insight into the local work practices in the
response rooms combined with community responses through the use of social

The PhD candidates will work closely together with the project’s post doc
researcher. The post doc will integrate the results of the project and
identify whether and how adaptive responses take place, and which
governance mechanisms support adaptive capacity. This part of the project
focuses on local communities and authorities in both the Dutch and
humanitarian contexts.


PhD candidates are expected to:

·         Execute their projects in the framework of the NWO-proposal;

·         Collaborate in a multidisciplinary research team;

·         Write articles for international peer reviewed scientific

·         Write a PhD thesis;

·         Assist in organizing project-related workshops seminars, and
partner meetings, and contribute to (formal and informal) publicity and

·         Participate in Graduate School courses in support of their
research (to a total of 30 ects).

·         MSc in social and/or behavioral sciences, preferably a (two
years) Research Master, in a relevant discipline (such as Organization
Sciences, Public Administration, Disaster and Crisis Management,
Communications, Sociology, Business Administration, Information Systems,
etc.; other disciplines welcome upon motivation of relevance to the topic.);

·         Strong interest in ethnographic field studies, network research,
use of technology, and the research topics described above;

·         Ability to work together in a project team;

·         Prepared to travel and spend time abroad in field conditions;

·         Both PhD research candidates need to be highly proficient in
spoken and written English, and for the second position also in Dutch;

·         Full-time employment is preferred (or a minimum of 0.8 fte).

*Employment information*

The initial appointment will be for 1 year. After satisfactory evaluation
of the initial appointment, it can be extended for a total duration of 4
years. The candidate will participate in the PhD programme of the Faculty
of Social Sciences. The starting date is the 1th of November 2014 but no
later than January 2014. You can find information about our excellent
fringe benefits of employment at, including:

• remuneration of 8,3% end-of-year bonus and 8% holiday allowance;

• a minimum of 29 vacation days (in case of full-time employment);

• generous contribution (70%) commuting allowance based on public transport;

• discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance).


The salary is € 2,083 gross per month in the first year, increasing to €
2,664 (salary scale 85) in the fourth year based on full-time employment.

*Information *

For additional information, please contact the project leader, Dr. Ir. Kees
Boersma ([log in to unmask]), or Prof. Dr. Peter Groenewegen (
[log in to unmask]).


Applicants are requested to write a one-page letter in which they describe
their abilities and motivation, accompanied by a curriculum vitae and one
or two references. The written applications, mentioning the vacancy number
in the e-mail header or at the top left of the letter and envelope, should
be submitted before October 9, 2014 to VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of
Social Sciences, attn. Mrs. Dr. J.G.M. Reuling, managing director, de
Boelelaan 1081, 1081 HV Amsterdam or preferably by e-mail to:
[log in to unmask]

*Any other correspondence in response to this advertisement will not be
dealt with.*

Julie M. Birkholz

PhD candidate
Network Institute <>
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam <>
Phone: +31 (0)20-59 86665

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