Rapport 2004

In 2004 werd AIAS geëvalueerd door een internationale commissie. In dit kader verscheen het AIAS Self Evaluation Report 2000 – 2004, met een bijbehorende toekomstvisie van de wetenschappelijk directeur Jelle Visser, AIAS the Way Ahead 2005 – 2008. De Commissie was erg positief over AIAS. Haar bevindingen zijn neergelegd in een rapport. Klik hier om het rapport van e evaluatiecommissie te downloaden

General conclusions and recommendations

In general the Committee has obtained a very positive impression of AIAS as a stimulating environment for both students and researchers. For the Committee there is no doubt about the continuation of the institute. As the Committee is asked to do so it would like to point out a few remarks/recommendations that might be taken into account for the next period: 2005-2008. Since the mission of AIAS is formulated in terms of research, education and society related tasks we will present our recommendations/suggestions accordingly and will end up making some remarks on the institutional setting and financial position of AIAS.


Concerning research, AIAS has made a big leap forward in terms of quality, quantity and the attraction of good researchers, since the last evaluation in 2000. The number of PhD students has for instance increased from one in 2000 to fifteen in 2004. As an example of quality the Committee would like to point out the very high ranking that AIAS achieved in the competition for a grant from the Russel Sage Foundation to finance a large international comparative project on firms, work organisation and low wage occupation, which is extremely good for such a young institute.
The excellence of the institute is also demonstrated by the amount of external funds that AIAS has acquired so far, most prominently from the EC Framework Programmes. At the same time however this is a point of positive concern to the Committee, as there may be the danger for AIAS of being pushed into research projects that respond primarily to bids or issues raised by external parties, thus losing interest in developing more basic and innovative research that contributes to cumulative knowledge and allows AIAS to further strengthen and develop its scientific reputation.
The focus of the research programme was shifted from the Dutch case to a more international one and in early 2003 AIAS launched a new research programme, Labour-In3, which is more focused on institutions than it was in the period before. Given these changes it seems important to the Committee to also involve political scientists and comparative law scholars into the research activities of AIAS. AIAS should also encourage work with the University’s experimental economics laboratory and should consider encouraging new simulation techniques like for example computational economics. Experimental and computational work fit well with the emphasis on institutions, providing different but complementary ways of analysing behaviour under different institutional arrangements. Implementation of these recommendations could bring the Institute at the very forefront in the field of Labour studies. The Committee noticed that the participation of labour lawyers in AIAS research programs is insufficient. This situation is linked to the fact that law research at the Universiteit van Amsterdam is traditionally directed towards Dutch developments. As the European dimension is becoming more and more important, a shift towards comparative research in labour law is foreseen but only very slowly. The Committee therefore recommends AIAS to put even more effort into an increased participation of labour lawyers in planning future activities and in drafting research projects.
Finally the Committee wants to underline that the basic asset and competitive advantage for the interaction and cooperation between researchers from different disciplines is the availability and development of internationally renowned databases at the Institute, such as the Dutch Collective Agreements Database (DUCADAM), that really give an added value to the research performed within the context of AIAS.

Education and Society

Since 2000 several changes have been made in the educational programme, partly due to the introduction of the bachelor / master programs (the so called Bologna agreement) in the curricula at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. The minor in Labour Studies will be continued in September 2004, incorporated in the bachelors programme Behaviour and Society of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. Furthermore, AIAS has developed a new master in Human Resources Management (in cooperation with the Amsterdam graduate business school, starting in 2005), a master programme in Comparative and European Labour Studies (in cooperation with the International School for Humanities and Social Studies and the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Studies, starting in September 2004) and a PhD training programme (in cooperation with the Amsterdam School for Social Sciences Research; started in 2002). The professional master in advanced labour studies, a two-year programme for university-graduates with several years of experience, was continued unchanged. For organisational and financial reasons (small core staff of AIAS), most programmes will be administered and organised by other institutes within the Universiteit van Amsterdam. Only the professional master in Advanced Labour Studies is both organised and developed by AIAS and is a way for AIAS to generate income.
The Committee obtained a positive view on the existing educational programme (the professional master and PhD programmes) and is positive about the bachelor and master programmes that will be launched in the years to come. Especially the interaction with research that is brought into the AIAS curriculum via the master programme in Comparative and European Labour Studies and the PhD training is of utmost importance for creating stimulating education.
The (PhD) students were extremely positive about the contents of the courses and the interaction with their teachers. The professional master programme in Advanced Labour Studies/Human Resources, which is intended for graduates with several years of work experience, helps them to obtain a broader view on their current work but is also an opportunity for them to get ahead in their careers. The Committee would like to suggest to AIAS to use this qualification for the acquisition of new students. The only remark on the professional master is that the pace of the course was tuned to the less fast and less devoted students, thus making it less challenging for the more devoted ones. A deadline for the hand
in of papers might help to solve this.
The PhD training programme creates a stimulating environment for exchanging ideas and making new contacts with PhD students or junior scholars from outside the Netherlands. A point of concern that the Committee wants to express about the extramural teaching activities of AIAS, the so called De Burcht lectures, is that they have greater difficulty attracting participants from the unions. This situation may be caused by the severe financial problems the Dutch unions are in. For this reason AIAS is already experimenting with a changed format for these courses but maybe AIAS could also consider to expand this extramural teaching activity and design courses for European union/labour leaders. In this
respect the co-chair with the union should be further strengthened as this is an entrance for AIAS to reach the right public and to keep informed about topics (for example monetary union and its impact on wage policies, or – more broadly – on the co-ordination of union initiatives on a cross-border basis) that are of interest to them.

Institutional settings and financial position

In 2002 AIAS moved to a new accommodation with more space for PhD students and Post Docs. The new premises give AIAS a clear identity without losing its connections with the participating faculties, which are physically in the very close environment. Although this setting seems to be working well, the Committee keeps the same concern as the 2000 peer review Committee: namely, the problems involved in dual commitment. Especially to young researchers (PhDs and Post Docs) it seems rather risky for their careers to work in a multidisciplinary research field, as it is obvious that for becoming recognized scientists, they will have to be excellent in their own disciplines. The Committee therefore recommends PhDs and Post Docs to seek the commitment of their own faculties, when planning research projects within AIAS and to keep in close contact with their faculties. After completion of the doctoral thesis, researchers must be helped to return to their own disciplinary environment and their
contacts with scholars in their field must be facilitated. Furthermore, the Committee wants to point out the importance to enhance international contacts for doctoral students or even to establish a co-supervisor, in order to follow young scholars’ research and support the activities already undertaken in this respect by the core staff. Such an effort is particularly useful when research covers more than one country, since it should aim at improving a comparative methodology.
AIAS is run by a very small core staff. At the moment this setting seems to be adequate although it is reaching its limits, and it is clear that a further expansion of AIAS would cause problems. Therefore, in the coming period AIAS has to decide for itself about its optimum size. If AIAS intends to expand its activities and attract more external funds it is clear that the core staff is too small for guiding the group of PhDs and Post Docs performing the research projects. In this respect the Committee wants to underline the importance of co-chairs that AIAS intends to establish, to strengthen the intellectual and programmatic leadership of AIAS. Additionally, AIAS has to make a decision whether their current activities should be consolidated or not and whether AIAS should invest more in a selection of certain research questions or not. AIAS should avoid becoming too dependent on external funding and should
select its own projects on the basis of fitting into the AIAS research program and learn to say no!
According to the Committee AIAS should not confine its research and educational activities to labour questions only but the Committee recommends to expand the overarching focus of AIAS to welfare, educational and social inclusion issues as well, as they clearly become more and more important for demographic and changing labour markets reasons.
There is also a need to increase the basic funding of AIAS to create more financial stability and to thus guarantee that AIAS can continue its fundamental and innovative research activities. The fact that AIAS is very able to attract external money should not prevent the participating faculties and the university from continuing the funding at the same or possibly at a higher level. Perhaps AIAS could look a little bit into the private sector for some endowment. Or attract more students in the De Burcht lectures and professional master as these are the programs that AIAS earns money with.

The review Committee:
Prof. R.B. Freeman,
Prof. M. Regini,
Prof. S. Sciarra

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