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NEWAVE Early Stage Researcher (PhD) position: Consultancy firms and the circulation of policy paradigms: roles, responsibilities and impacts

Would you like to be at the forefront of the global water governance debate, and planting the seeds for future actionable alternatives or improvements to the prevailing water governance paradigms? Are you enthusiastic about moving between science, policy and practice in order to qualify for successful careers in research, consulting, industry or governance? Apply for NEWAVE PhD position at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

14 dagen geleden


De Boelelaan, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
40 uur
€ 3270 per maand


Increasingly attention is paid to the global circulation of ideas on water governance. The role of environmental consultancy firms in that process deserves more attention, something that this ESR project will accomplish. Building on existing frameworks on policy intervention, diffusion and adoption, boundary work, policy entrepreneurship, policy evaluation, etc. the project will seek to develop a conceptual model of the role of consultancy firms, containing several potential hypothesis on how and when consultancy firms influence water governance debates. The subsequent empirical reserach will focus on the real life impact of consultancy firms on a number of critical processes in the circulation of ideas on water governance, notably the translation of academic ideas into actionable proposals for new governance technologies, the role of consultancy firms in uploading them to international institutions, and downloading them to local and regional jurisdictions, and their role in the evaluation of novel approaches and communicating about their performance. The project is explicitly aimed to create reflexive insights for consultancy firms, and to co-develop normative guidance on how the industry could further improve their role in the global circulation of ideas.

This position is part of the EU funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) ‘NEWAVE - Next Water Governance’. NEWAVE will train a total of 15 highly skilled Early Stage Researchers (ESRs), starting in the same period. The project aims at equipping the ESRs with fundamental knowledge, advanced skills, and adequate tools to address current and future water governance challenges. The selected candidates will have the opportunity to complete a PhD degree at one of its 10 prestigious host institutions, in collaboration with 19 partner organizations. The various positions are moving between science, policy and practice in order to qualify for successful careers in research, consulting, industry or governance.

This position is hosted at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and ARCADIS Netherlands. The selected candidate will be supervised by a team of two academic supervisors and one non-academic co-supervisor: Prof. dr. Dave Huitema (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Dr. Nicolas Jager (Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg), and Ms Iris Bijlsma (ARCADIS Netherlands).

(S)he will have the opportunity to conduct relevant field research, and will receive a solid and innovative combination of training and practical experience to become highly attractive to potential employers in all sectors concerned.

Your duties

  • conceptualize the role of consultancy firms in the development, diffusion and evaluation of water policy paradigms
  • describe and analyse empirically how consultancy firms develop ideas for novel paradigms, for instance by making academic ideas actionable
  • describe and analyse the role of consultancy firms in the uploading and downloading of policy ideas between various jurisdictional levels, for instance by certifying the credibility (proof of principle) of certain ideas
  • study how consultancy firms pick up the task of evaluating the performance of policy ideas in practice, for instance by looking at the evaluation methods they use, and the way communication about findings takes place
  • stimulate a reflexive discussion on the principles that should underpin future paradigm circulation, including but not limited to context sensitivity
  • produce actionable, evidence based and normatively sound suggestions for approaches that consultancy could follow in fulfilling their role in the global circulation of policy ideas
Expected results:
  • a conceptual framework highlighting the role of consultancy in the circulation of policy ideas globally
  • empirical evidence on the way consultancy firms pick up their role, understand their normative responsibilities, and affect water governance practices globally
  • a discussion on the normative principles that could guide consultancy firms in their future approach
  • actionable recommendations on how to improve current practices (best practice recommendations)


  • a master's degree in Environmental Policy, Environmental Science and Policy, Development Studies, Science and Technology Studies, or related, completed with excellent grades
  • a demonstrated interest in water governance or environmental governance more broadly
  • proven skills in conceptual thinking and in doing empirical research in challenging context
  • capacity to work independently and as part of a team
  • examples of high-quality written work, such as a journal paper or equivalent
  • outstanding interpersonal skills to work with colleagues at ARCADIS, and with multiple stakeholders
  • candidates must meet the ESR eligibility criteria

Eligibility citeria*
  • you must – at the date of recruitment – have obtained the MSc degree entitling you to embark on a doctorate
  • you must – at the date of recruitment – be within the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of your research career and not have a doctoral degree
  • mobility rule: you must not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the host organisation you are applying for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment date. Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.
*Please make sure you comply with the eligibility criteria before applying. You need to be able to provide documentation proving your eligibility for recruitment. You can read the full description of eligibility criteria in the Information Note for ITN Fellows.


The selected candidate will receive a salary in accordance with the European Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) regulations for Early Stage Researchers (ESR). The basic gross salary (living allowance) is €3,270 per month (€39,240/year). A correction factor will be applied for positions based in the Netherlands, according to the H2020 Work Programme (pg. 94, Table 2); therefore, the exact gross salary will be confirmed upon appointment. Please consider that the net salary will be lower than the amount mentioned due to taxes, social benefit premiums etc. The salary (Living allowance, mobility allowance, family allowance) is defined by the EU. In addition to the living allowance, selected candidates will benefit from a mobility allowance of €600 per month, and a family allowance of €500. All details of financial aspects can be found in the H2020 Programme – Guide for Applicants (pg. 27-29).

The selected candidate will have a fulltime employment contract for the duration of 36 months. The expected start date is 15 October or before.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment,
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus,
  • solid pension scheme (ABP),
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge

Additional information

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 24.05.2020. The job interviews are planned for the period from 11 June to 1 July 2020, when possible please take them into account when applying for the position. Please note that you can indicate up to three preferences to be considered for other available positions at NEWAVE.
Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Caterina Marinetti
Position: NEWAVE Scientific Project Manager
E-mail: Caterina.Marinetti@vu.nl
Telephone: +31 (0)6 17280404

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