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The PhD project will examine how digital-era public administrations are transformed to enhance collaboration in policy design and service delivery, advancing the participation of public, private and societal actors. The PhD project will focus on theoretical and empirical research that provides new insights into the co-evolutionary dynamics of public sector innovation, collaborative governance and digital change.

Research field: Public Administration
Supervisors: Veiko Lember
Tiina Randma-Liiv
Availability: This position is available.
Offered by: School of Business and Governance
Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance
Application deadline:Applications are accepted between June 01, 2020 00:00 and July 03, 2020 23:59 (Europe/Zurich)


The PhD project will examine how public administrations are transformed to enhance collaboration in policy design and service delivery, advancing the participation of public, private and societal actors. Since digital technologies and automation increasingly delineate space as well as need for collaboration, innovation and capacity, and hence the directionality of change in public sector, the project seeks to generate new insights into public sector collaboration in the digital age. The PhD student is expected to carry out case studies in Estonia analysing cases both on local and national level, covering a wide range of public, private and societal actors. Case selection is expected to support the analysis by covering the different roles of public actors in enhancing collaborative processes. It is expected that the PhD student will analyse different types of partnerships of stakeholders and users in policy design and in delivering public services. The cases will focus on how the uptake of digital technologies shape collaborative governance and/or how the collaborative governance is implemented for digital change. The thesis will inform on new institutional strategies and mechanisms to enhance collaboration within government and between governmental and non-governmental actors. It will assess stakeholders and means of innovative collaboration, the institutional conditions as well as drivers and barriers of governmental collaboration. This will include studying the effects of collaboration on legitimacy, accountability and government efficiency to provide a comprehensive analysis of the transformation towards open, innovative and collaborative governments in the digital age.

Responsibilities and tasks
During the PhD research, the student should in cooperation with the supervisors develop and implement the research plan that results in at least three peer-reviewed and internationally published articles. The candidate will have the opportunity to expand on the listed tasks.

A successful PhD candidate should preferably have: 

  • a master’s degree in social sciences (preferably in public administration, political science or economics);
  • a clear interest in the topic of the position;
  • excellent command of English;
  • strong and demonstrable writing and analytical skills;
  • capacity to work both as an independent researcher and as part of an international team;
  • capacity and willingness to provide assistance in organizational tasks relevant to the project.

The candidate should submit a research plan for the topic, including the overall research and data collection strategy.

We offer:

  • 4-year PhD position in one of the largest, most internationalized and leading social science research centers in Estonia with a large portfolio of ongoing pan-European and national public administration, digital governance and innovation studies projects
  • The chance to do high-level research in one of the most dynamic digital government contexts globally
  • Opportunities for conference visits, research stays and networking with globally leading universities and research centers in the fields of public administration, innovation studies and digital government
  • Guaranteed net income of at least 1200 EUR (including 660 EUR PhD scholarship) and Estonian national health insurance. The position will be co-financed by the European Commission’s H2020 grant TROPICO (grant No 726840) and the Estonian national PhD scholarship

About the organization
The Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance (RND) is an interdisciplinary research center of Tallinn University of Technology that focuses on socially relevant and future-oriented research and teaching issues: 

  • models and practices of governance and public administration globally;
  • fiscal governance and fiscal bureaucracies;
  • e-governance and digital transformation of societies: datafication, public services and state-citizen relations in the digital era, smart cities and digital public services and cross-border collaboration;
  • P2P technologies, its' governance and potential new production models;
  • science and innovation policies and its' management;
  • philosophy and ethics of science and technology.

RND is a highly internationalised department and engages some of the top international thinkers and researchers in its research fields. Next to a fully English taught PhD degree it offers a MA degree in Technology Governance and Digital Transformations, and a unique Erasmus Mundus joint MSc programme in Public Sector Innovation and e-Governance in cooperation with KU Leuven (Belgium) and University of Münster (Germany). RND and its staff have coordinated or been involved in a multitude of international research projects with the EU (INTERREG, COST, FP7, H2020), UN (UNDP), OECD (SIGMA), INET, and have participated in various European Commission working groups (the EU's Lisbon Agenda Group, Expert Group on Managing Risks in Public Technology Procurement, Expert Group on Public Sector Innovation). Recently RND initiated a major, 32 MEUR international R&D project on Smart Cities (FinestTwins). RND is also engaged in several international associations, such as the European Master in Public Administration program (EMPA), European Inter-University Association on Society, Science and Technology (ESST), and the European Group for Public Administration (EGPA) where RND coordinates the Permanent Study Group on Public Administration, Technology and Innovation.

Additional information
For further information, please contact Prof Tiina Randma-Liiv tiina.randma-liiv@taltech.ee and Dr Veiko Lember veiko.lember@taltech.ee or visit http://ttu.ee/nurkse.