New NWO-strategy and governance

On 13 April 2015, the NWO strategy 2015-2018 was presented to Sander Dekker, State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science. On 14 April, the outlines of the new NWO organisation are made known as well. On behalf of the Division Board of NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development, the following reaction is spread .

The NWO strategy 2015 - 2018 integrates new activities within the main task of NWO: contribute to a strong science sector in the Netherlands and increase the contribution of science to society. As national research funder, NWOs main objective remains the quality and innovation of scientific research in universities and national research institutes. Meanwhile, she connects research with the demands and needs of government, business and civil society organisations and knowledge institutes. More prominent than in recent years, NWO will promote cooperation and coherence between researchers, between disciplines, between universities and research institutions, between national and international, and between science and stakeholders in society.

NWO governance

In addition to a new strategy, the contours of the new NWO structure were made public, a structure that will make it possible for NWO to optimally perform its broader tasks in the future. This calls for NWO to position more strategically, to gain decisiveness and to organise capacity, to deploy resources more flexible, to work from one coherent programming and to encourage NWO broad and interdisciplinary collaboration. NWO will also become more transparent. This new structure is designed by a working group of the General Board of NWO and the chairs of the boards of NWO research divisions (including NWO-WOTRO).

In short, a new model for the governance and organisation of NWO is designed to ensure that its (wider) tasks will be carried out in a way that relishes on a large support base in science and among other stakeholders, and ensures that work will be executed on the basis of shared vision and collaboration across disciplines. A great flexibility to respond to developments in science, policy and society is a prerequisite. NWO will have to rely on an efficient office organisation with sufficient adaptability and is transparent to partners and stakeholders.

This new model entails the following elements:

  • a central board will be installed, with good access to and support in science. A concentration of decision-making that strengthens and increases flexibility in order to increase the commitment of people and resources. The board adequately covers accountablility on the appropriateness and legality of their efforts;
  • It provides a structural embedding of advising on strategy and policy by key stakeholders;
  • a contribution of active scientists (and others) is provided, so they can actually affect decisions about policy and allocation of resources;
  • an office,  that contains a good balance between connecting and interconnecting domains and disciplines, is available. But also an office that is shaped to permanently enlarge its efficiency and adaptability;
  • changes to governance and organisation ensure a joint strategy and policy, including cross-disciplinary programming and general NWO (interdisciplinary) cooperation;
  • positiones the institutes to better suit professional management, to ensure a better connection to the joint programming and to further strenghten their (high) scientific quality and national role.

This will be realised by creating four disciplinary domains that will form the center of NWO: (1) social sciences and humanities, (2) physical sciences, (3) medical sciences, and (4) technical and applied sciences.

Anchoring the values of WOTRO within NWO

For interdisciplinary cooperation in the field of global sustainability issues, currently embedded at the Foundation WOTRO, a broad managerial task force (or taskforce) with madates will be installed in consultation with the ministry Foreign Affairs / DGIS and the new domain boards. This task force will be installed for a period of five years, with a possibility of extension. This means that the philosophy and mission of NWO-WOTRO remains embedded in the structure of NWO.

The NWO-WOTRO mission is as follows:

High-quality knowledge is a prerequisite for change, a prerequisite for realising equity, social justice and sustainability. NWO(-WOTRO) seeks to promote the generation, sharing and use of validated knowledge to enhance the quality of life for all. A number of characteristics hallmark such research:

  • International and intercultural research collaboration;
  • Inter- and trans-disciplinary cooperation to tackle complex development challenges;
  • Public-private partnerships and multi-sector stakeholder involvement in all stages of research;
  • A focus on research capacity strengthening, knowledge sharing, research uptake, and innovation.

It will take time to introduce the new structure and governance of NWO, although NWO will soon start working in the spirit of the new plans. During this entire process, the regular functioning of NWO-WOTRO will continue normally. 

The board and office of WOTRO are confident that the new situation offers many opportunities to keep supporting development-related research, as described in the WOTRO. We will keep you informed!

On behalf of the NWO-WOTRO Board,

Prof. Wiebe E. Bijker
Chair | WOTRO Science for Global Development

Documents (in Dutch)