Fully Funded PhD Position: The Rise And Institutionalisation Of Personal Advisers Of Ministers In Comparative Perspective – Belgium

Applications are invited for a Fully Funded PhD Scholar Position by The Public Governance Institute (IO) to conduct research on special (or personal) advisers in the ministerial offices of a set of countries in the Westminster administrative tradition, namely Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the UK. The PhD position is part of a research project, which was granted by KU Leuven to Prof. Dr. Marleen Brans by the KU Leuven, Belgium.

The KU Leuven Public Governance Institute (IO) is one of the leading research institute at the centre of Europe. It conducts research into different aspects of Public Administration/Public Management, Public Policy and Politics. Researchers at the IO publish in highly ranked journals and prestigious book series, while they are also involved in high quality teaching of students and training of civil servants. The results of the research conducted at IO are disseminated to national, regional and international organizations, administrations and governments, societal stakeholders and aim to have an impact on society in general.


The emergence of political advisers as important third actors between politics and administration is, by historical standards, a recent phenomenon in the Westminster administrative tradition. It is only since the 1970s and 1980s that countries such as Australia, Canada,Ireland, New Zealand and the UK have been experiencing growing numbers of political staff along with new patterns of institutionalizing partisan involvement in governing. By contrast, in the Napoleonic administrative tradition and the European Commission there is a long tradition of engaging ministerial cabinets as the structural interfaces between politics and administration. This tradition goes back as far back as the1840s, when the first Belgian and French cabinets were established. The increasing use of advisers in the ‘Commonwealth’ set of countries has been recognised as being part of a process of cabinetisation that started in the1970s and 1980s and continues unabated till today. However, this process is not uniform. It differs in sequence, intensity, and tempo. The aim of the project is map the process of cabinetisation and explain its variability by focusing on the country cases of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the UK in the period from 1970 to 2016.

Specific tasks are

  • Preparing a PhD at the Public Governance Institute under the supervision of Professor Marleen Brans
  • Designing the research, collecting and analysing data, and communicating the findings
  • Participating in the international research community and presenting results at Conferences
  • Liaising with public sector organisations and former advisers for data collection purposes
  • Communicating about findings to the broader public and to public sector organisations
  • Writing papers to be submitted to peer-reviewed journals
  • Teaching activities including supervision of exams, and master thesis coaching
  • Providing support to the development of teaching resources of the International Public Policy Association
  • Master, (or near completion – students who graduate this summer are welcome to apply) in Public Policy, Public Administration, Political Science, Organisation Studies, Sociology,or a related discipline
  • A wide-ranging knowledge of and attachment with the field of Public Policy.
  • An understanding of the latest developments in the field
  • Applicant must possess good research skills.
  • Having distinguished oneself during the studies (equivalent of ‘cum laude’ in the Belgian system) is essential
  • Proven affinity for empirical research, as evidenced by your master’s thesis, research plans and other projects
  • Have good communicative and administrative skills, and be able to communicate research to a range of different actors, preferably in different languages
  • Finally, it is required that you are able to travel frequently and live for prolonged periods outside Belgium and also outside Europe

To apply, please submit a CV, motivation letter and grade transcript.

  • Full-time, paid position as PhD researcher, initially for one year, which, will be extended up to four years upon positive evaluation
  • An inspiring and challenging international and academic environment at one of the leading departments in the field

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Marleen Brans, tel.: +32 16 32 32 88, mail: marleen.brans@kuleuven.be.

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of age, gender, nationality or impairments an cultural background. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.


Publish Date:
Institute Name: The Public Governance Institute (IO)
Degree/Course: PhD
Deadline: August 24, 2018
Country: Belgium
Course Start:
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