2 PhD-positions Social Science

NWO Smart Disaster Governance project

The proposal is called “Enhancing smart disaster governance: Assessing the potential of the net-centric approach.” The main applicant and coordinator of the project is dr.ir. Kees Boersma (he is a member of the NI, faculty of Social Sciences), co-applicants are prof.dr. Peter Groenewegen and dr. Julie Fergusson (both members of the NI, faculty of Social Sciences), prof Arjen Boin (Utrecht University) and dr. Bartel van de Walle (Tilburg University). This team can hire two PhD candidates, and Jeroen Wolbers (also a NI member who is about to complete his PhD thesis this year) will be the postdoc in the project.
The project is co-financed by the Dutch Safety Regions (in particular Groningen, Noord-Holland-Noord, Utrecht and Rotterdam Rijnmond), by the Netherlands Institute for Safety, Oxfam Novib and Cordaid.

The project will identify disaster response practices and conditions that can lead to net-centric governance. Net centric 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 identify whether net-centric governance offers an alternative for formal top-down command and control practices, by drawing on the potential of community networks.

Netcentric governance will be studied in two different social contexts. Humanitarian work (Oxfam Novib and Cordaid) represents weak governmental response structures, but ample experience with social media. The Dutch context (Safety Regions) represents an over-regulated governmental response structure, but less experience with the use of social media in disaster response. Net-centric governance in these cases can support heterogeneous response networks, building on interconnected goals and ensuring better cooperation.

The project combines ethnographic studies with network analysis and semantic analysis, to understand response practices and to chart patterns in information streams among and between heterogeneous networks. The Safety Regions’ project ‘Netcentisch Werken’ for crisis response in the Netherlands, and Ushahidi and CrisisMappers,
citizen-based social media platforms in humanitarian relief as used by NGOs, provide the cases. By analyzing the consequences of interconnecting response organizations with community networks, the project will identify the possibilities of a more adaptive disaster governance. This project aims at developing principles of net-centric governance, to be implemented in both humanitarian and national disaster response. It will contribute to a more legitimate and reliable, that is ‘smart’ disaster response to foster societal resilience.”

For additional information download the full application text or please contact the project leader, Dr. Ir. Kees Boersma, or Prof. Dr. Peter Groenewegen.

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: vacature.org.fsw@vu.nl.