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Public Institutions



Institutional analysis, in its various forms, is increasingly prominent in contemporary research in public administration and much of the social sciences. There are a number of institutionalist approaches used in public administration today. What are institutions, and how are they different from other social phenomena? What effects do institutions have on the behaviour of actors? How can institutions overcome collective action problems? How do institutions change and when do they remain stable? These are some of the questions which we are going to discuss during the sessions of this course.

This course will deal with recent theoretical developments in institutionalist theories, with an emphasis on their application in public administration research and analysis. We will address institutional development, stability and change. The course will provide an overview of the contributions and shortcomings of institutional analysis to understanding governance and public life in general.

Learning objectives

Upon completion of this course, students should have attained:

  • a broad understanding of the multiple effects institutions exert in public life,

  • an understanding of the differences and similarities of different institutional approaches,

  • an understanding of the type of collective action problems which institutions aim to resolve,

  • a skill to apply institutional reasoning to the analysis of real-world problems, especially to questions relevant to public administration and public policy



Methods of instruction

This course consists of lectures, tutorials and self study. This course is compulsory.

Study load

  • total study load: 140 hrs – contact hours: 21 hrs (7 weeks x 3hrs per week) – self-study hours: 118 hrs (7X10 hrs weekly preparation; 48 hrs final paper)

Method of assessment

A take home exam 60% (resit: new paper)
5 assignments (weekly) from which 4 best count for the grade (4 × 10%) (no resit)


Yes. Available the first day of the block.

Other course materials/literature
Academic papers (to be downloaded online)


Registration for every course and exam in USIS is mandatory. For courses, registration is possible from four weeks up to three days before the start of the course.
For exams, registration is possible from four weeks up to ten days before the date of the examination.


Dr. Maarja Beerkens
Tel: (0)71 527 3751