Public Policy and Governance

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  • Through the Public Policy and Governance Programme, the UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) covers research on public policy issues ranging from national systems of innovation, science, technology and innovation (STI) policy to social policies and policies with respect to sustainable development. Whatever the specific policy area, it must be assumed that there is no single solution formula applicable to all circumstances; the policy’s effectiveness and efficiency depends on the manner in which it is discussed, approved and implemented. Special attention is given to international (multilateral) organizations as they play an increasingly important role in governance issues. This is due to the fact that national governing bodies transfer, explicitly and implicitly, power and authority to these organizations. Research-wise, the programme brings the roles of the institutions at all levels of governance and their interrelations to the forefront. Research activities relate to gaining new insights with the aim of developing new governance concepts and frameworks, based on theoretical and empirical knowledge that addresses future or latent policy needs.


    Research under this programme is covered in both the Chinese and Senegalese twinning initiatives. However no specific direct input is delivered.

    Focal Points

    Professor Dr. Rene Kemp and Dr. Franziska Gassmann are the programme leaders.


    Research activities under this programme aim to develop new knowledge, concepts, analyses and recommendations for policymakers seeking responses to governance issues including the globalization (and regionalization) of the economy or governance systems, sustainable development, public health, social dumping, rights protections and the changing paradigm of knowledge-driven economies that reshape the contours of STI governance.


    The programme’s research theme responds to explicit requests from policymakers in the form of contracted research. The main thrust of its activities relates to gaining new insight and development of new governance concepts and frameworks based on theoretical and empirical knowledge, mainly addressing future or latent policy needs.


    No gender issues are currently studied as a separate topic within this programme. In the future, more explicit focus on gender issues will be included.

    Target Audience

    The audience consists of statistical agencies, academic research institutions, international agencies such as the European Commission (EC) and individual countries in Europe and throughout the world.

    Intended Impact

    Impact: Influencing policymaking at the international level
    Target: The programme targets international policymaking and advising agencies such as the EC, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Bank, Economic Comission for Latin America and the Caribbean, New Partnership for Africa’s Development and
    How: This will be achieved through participation in conferences, presentations of research and research contracts for those agencies.

    Impact: Influencing policymaking at the regional level
    Target: Focus has been on both the local region where UNU-MERIT is located (Euregion Maas-Rhine), specific developing countries within the framework of UNICEF and International Labour Organization projects, as well as other regions in other parts of the world (e.g., twinning with Suzhou in China).
    How: This will be achieved through conferences, workshops and publications.

    Impact: Influencing policymaking at the national level
    Target: The programme targets countries’ civil servants and other policymakers dealing with STI, industrial and social policy.
    How: This will be achieved through conferences and research projects at the request of public authorities in those countries.

    Impact: Furthering knowledge in an academic field
    Target: The programme targets the policymaking field.
    How: This will be achieved through policy related publications and op-ed pieces in newspapers.

    Impact: Capacity development in developed/developing countries
    Target: The programme targets policymakers in developed and developing countries.
    How: This will be achieved through training sessions and conferences/workshops.

    Research Findings

    To hear about the research findings of this programme, please listen to the interview on the UNU-MERIT website.

    Policy Bridging

    The research programme will be further developed around two areas: first, all issues dealing with the national and regional governance of innovation, science and technology and the global governance of science, technology and innovation (World Trade Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization, UNESCO, etc.), environmental technologies and global sustainability; and second, all policy aspects dealing with the quality of “governance”. Over the last decade, quantifying the degree of good governance of countries, both developed and developing has become a sophisticated exercise. This research programme will broaden to include all aspects of policy evaluation and good governance. However, measuring “good governance” is far from uncontroversial: the most widely used measurements are plagued with many more pitfalls than users tend to realize and there is therefore a considerable misuse of governance indicators, even by policymakers. The research of this programme will assist policymakers at regional, national and international levels to improve their tool box and indicators for designing and implementing policies. While the use of governance indicators has today particularly important consequences for developing countries — because, e.g., aid and investment allocation decisions depend on them — improving governance indicators is an issue that is also of relevance to most other countries.

    Value Added

    The programme provides direct policy advice and support to policymakers in the field of science and technology, innovation and industrial policy in both developed and developing countries.


    Project outcomes are primarily published in journals, research memoranda and policy briefs. Furthermore, the websites of UNU-MERIT and the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance (MGSoG) contain a full list of relevant publications and other relevant output.

    Timeline/Programme Cycle

    The programme will continue on the basis of the previous UNU-MERIT programme and the integration of the MGSoG research programme on good governance and policy evaluation.


    External evaluation is regularly carried out. Assessment of progress is based on success in publications.


    The current biennium will be strongly influenced by the success in attracting further new funds.

    Expected Duration

    The programme is expected to run for a duration of 120 months, from 1 January 2006 through 31 December 2015.

  • Activities within the Programme will involve cooperation between the UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology and one partner: the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

  • United Nations University
    Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Centre on Innovation and Technology
    Keizer Karelplein 19, 6211 TC Maastricht
    The Netherlands

    T: +31 43 388-4400
    F: + 31 43 388-4499