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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 makes use of the following formats: lectures, case discussions, simulation game

Study load

  • Total study load: 140 hrs.

  • Contact hours: 24 hrs (7 weeks x 3hrs per week + 3 hrs exam)

  • Self-study hours: 118 hrs (7X14 hrs weekly preparation; 18 hrs exam preparation)

Method of assessment (NB: this info has been changed on August 27, 2015)

Final exam 75% (resit option in case of failing the first attempt)
Paper assignment 25%

You can find more information about assessments and the timetable exams on the website.
Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Blackboard.
On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website, uSis and Blackboard.

Students will be permitted to resit an examination if they have taken the first sit and have a mark lower than 5.5 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Resit written exam
Students that want to take part in a resit for a written exam, are required to register via uSis. Use the activity number that can be found on the ‘timetable exams’.


Yes. Available the first day of the block.

Other course materials/literature

Academic papers (to be downloaded online).


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.
Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.
Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.


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