Universiteit Leiden

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Public Management and Leadership (MSc)

Why does governance so often fail to effectively address societal problems? Why does the success of policy solutions vary so strongly across countries and policy domains? The specialisation Public Management and Leadership develops a theoretical and practical understanding of how management and leadership behavior is at the heart of understanding – and improving – public governance.

Franek Grabowski

Student Public Management and Leadership

Franek Grabowski

'This programme is the right fit if you are looking for education in diverse fields of both private and public sectors. The courses sharpen the skills you already have, as well as develops many new ones through interactive learning and understanding management in different environments.'

I chose this programme because it is applicable in both the private and the public sector. This master provides knowledge in management and leadership beyond a regular corporate setting. There is a varied structure, with interactive and practical aspects and activities. This suited me perfectly, because I enjoy teamwork and tackling unique challenges in an innovative way. The programme proves to be a perfect blend of insightful theory and challenging practical endeavours.  

The specialisation of ‘Public Management and Leadership’ has various advantages, such as the deeper connection with the students and lecturers, which creates more involvement and interaction during classes and projects.  There are a wide variety of electives, ranging from data management to comprehensive lobbying schedules. During my elective I had the opportunity to see how the European Union power dynamics are affected by private actors, how they engage in lobbying activities and I learned how to influence and predict the outcome of electoral processes. My elective allowed me to have a broader perspective on the institutions and processes, offering new approaches and valuable insights.  

This programme is the right fit if you are looking for education in diverse fields of both private and public sectors. The courses sharpen the skills you already have, as well as develops many new ones through interactive learning and understanding management in different environments. Teachers provide valuable feedback, show great care and attention, and enable the opportunity to excel in topics of interest.  


Dr. Joris van der Voet

Specialisation Coordinator Public Management and Leadership

Dr. Joris van der Voet

'The Public Management and Leadership specialization prepares students for a role as an organizational expert in or around the public sector organizations. Our alumni are uniquely equipped to understand, analyze and solve the strategic challenges that contemporary public sector organizations face.'

'The Public Management and Leadership specialisation prepares students for a role as an organisational expert in or around the public sector organisations. Our alumni are uniquely equipped to understand, analyze and solve the strategic challenges that contemporary public sector organisations face.'

The Public Management and Leaderhsip specialisation is a unique programme because it combines a focus on public governance with a specialisation in management and leadership. The specialisation courses are based on state-of-the-art research and theory, but most importantly they relate to the central challenges that governments face in practice. Think for example of the turbulent and unpredictable political environments in which decision-making takes place (Politicians and Public Managers), the declining trust that citizens have in the state and democratic systems (Citizen-State Interactions), the complexity of cross-boundary challenges such as climate change (Collaborative Governance), and the need for government agencies to become more innovative, responsive and fearless (Leadership in Organisations). We not only develop a thorough analytical understanding of these challenges, but our hands-on perspective on management and leadership develops practical competences that allow our students to make a difference in their future career.

The wide range of national backgrounds of our students and professors provides a stimulating classroom environment, in which we apply the course content to practice in an internationally comparative manner. Our alumni often find employment in government agencies as a management trainee, as a strategic advisor to the management team, or as management consultants in the private sector.’

Julia Wysocka

Alumnus, Pilot Succes Specialist at FeedbackFruits

Julia Wysocka

'I vividly recall the specialisation course Leadership in Organisations during which I learnt how to conduct behavioural analysis of a leader. The course entailed working with a group on delivering leadership recommendations for a public manager and was focused on applying academic literature to a real case.'

I have chosen this programme as the specialisation appealed to me - I looked for a master's degree that will equip me with knowledge on the topics of management that goes beyond business or focus on private corporations. When choosing a master's programme I paid attention to the course design and the way classes are conducted. I enjoy working with others and engaging with the content in a non-traditional way, hence I asked myself - are most of the courses interactive and involve peer work? Is there ample attention put into practical knowledge? This course ticked them all so it was an easy choice for me. 

A big asset of this specialisation was a rather small number of students in comparison to other specialisations. I was very lucky to be able to connect with my fellow peers during a/synchronous group work, meeting after class to work on a project or brainstorm in breakout rooms. When having 100 students online you never feel that the teacher is treating you individually and you might feel intimidated to speak up or ask questions. The seminars and workshops in smaller groups (10-15) opened a door for feeling acknowledged and comfortable to share your thoughts and doubts. It also helped make the connections and oftentimes resulted in great in-class debates that were continued long after classes were finished.

I vividly recall the specialisation course Leadership and Organisational Behaviour during which I learnt how to conduct behavioural analysis of a leader. The course entailed working with a group on delivering a recommendation letter for a public manager and was focused on applying academic literature to a real case. During that course, I had the pleasure to interview a public servant working in a Dutch public organisation, giving insights into how organisations work and what challenges people in high positions are facing. 

Oftentimes I am using the skills I learned during my elective. I wouldn't know that writing a systematic paper would be that useful in daily life, yet we have learned very valuable skills of extracting relevant information from a long research paper together with several reading techniques or searching for information. Additionally, my thesis capstone allows me to dive deep into statistics. You have the freedom to choose if you are conducting qualitative or quantitative research hence if you want to learn a new set of skills, this programme will allow you to do so. And most importantly - I have learnt what I like and where my interest does not lie, which is incredibly useful and valuable to know when joining the job market. 

I would recommend it to students who seek a high peace programme and opt for interactive work whilst learning about how management work in an international environment. In my experience, I have been equipped with valuable feedback on my work, I became more sensitive to the challenges of public managers and I acquire an interest in topics I didn't know about before. Additionally, the professors always made sure that we not only write our papers and pass the course but also that we enjoy the time spent during the seminars. If the above resonates with you, this programme is a great fit for you.   

The programme provides an internationally comparative perspective on how the actions of political executives, top-level bureaucrats, managers in government agencies, and front-line professionals ultimately determine successful governance. This expertise prepares you for a career in an (inter)national public organisation or management consultancy.

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What does this master's programme entail?

Public governance broadly refers to the structures, processes and institutions used by government to address urgent societal problems. However, to understand what makes public governance work in practice, it is necessary to look beyond the structures and processes of government, and pay attention to the behavior of organisations and the individual actors that operate within them. This master specialisation uses management and leadership theory to critically analyze how the decisions and actions of public managers ultimately determine successful governance. In doing so, the programme has an internationally comparative and practice-oriented perspective. 

The specialisation combines two general courses on public governance with four specialisation courses, that each examine the role of management and leadership in four critical areas of public governance.

  1. The course Leadership in Organisations addresses how public managers create the organisational capacities that are needed to address the complex challenges of the 21st century.
  2. The course Collaborative Governance examines how governments and organisations must work together to successfully address complex problems, and analyzes how network management is crucial to make collaboration work in practice.
  3. The course Politicians and Public Managers emphasizes the political context in which public management and leadership takes place. It informs the interactions between political executives and top-level bureaucrats in decision-making processes.
  4. The course Citizen-State Interactions analyzes governance from the perspective of citizens. It examines how the use of algorithmic decision-making, mounting bureaucracy and administrative burdens diminish trust in government, and how this can be addressed.

The specialisation Public Management and Leadership prepares you for positions in international, national or local public sector organisations, which increasing require effective management and leadership to navigate the dilemma’s and value trade-offs of public governance. Students of this specialisation also regularly find employment in management consultancy firms that strategically advise public organisations.

Why study Public Management and Leadership at Leiden University?

The Public Management and Leadership specialisation at Leiden University offers a unique combination of public governance and public management. On the one hand, you generate a broad understanding of the public institutions and policy processes through which government addresses societal problems. On the other hand, you will develop specialist knowledge on how management and leadership behavior are key to successful governance in practice.

  • You will learn how to understand and solve societal problems from the perspective of public governance and public management.
  • You will take part in a state-of-the-art curriculum that is based around the main challenges that governments face in practice
  • You will develop an interdisciplinary perspective, that combines public administration, political science, organisational psychology, sociology, management sciences and organisational theory.
  • The specialisation courses are strongly connected to practice, which develops competences for a career as a policy analyst, management trainee, or management consultant.
  • You will be part of an international classroom, in which cases, examples and assignments are presented in an internationally comparative manner.
  • You will be instructed by professors who are both substantive experts and experienced in strategic policy advice in practice. 
  • You will be studying in the heart of The Hague - a bustling, cosmopolitan urban centre and the administrative heart of the Netherlands - amidst government ministries, international organisations and multinationals. Find out more reasons to choose Public Administration.

Find out more reasons to choose Public Administration.

Public Management and Leadership: the right master’s programme for you?

  • Do you want to acquire an in-depth understanding of what makes public governance successful in practice?
  • Are you interested in the organizational dynamics that allows governments to succeed?
  • Or do you anticipate a career in a government agency or as a private sector management consultant?

Then Public Management and Leadership is the programme for you!

Read more about the admission requirements.

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