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Masterstudent Public Administration wins Ben Pauw Thesis prize

The Ben Pauw thesis prize for the best Master’s thesis in the area of Public Affairs was won by student Esther Mangelsdorf of the Institute of Public Administration.

The Ben Pauw BVPA Thesis prize is awarded every two years to the best Master’s thesis in the area of Public Affairs, supervised by endowed professor Public Affairs Arco Timmermans. The prize was awarded on the 6th of October, during the National Public Affairs congress by the Chair of the jury, Dr. Caelesta Braun. With the prize, there is also a sum of money awarded of 500 euros. The man of which the prize derived its name, Ben Pauw, was one of the founders of Public Affairs in the Netherlands.

This research analysed how three different types of incumbents, a public, semi-public and private organisation, responded to grassroots groups regarding the controversial issue of Black Pete during Sinterklaas. Reasons for selecting these three different types was to determine if organisation type had an impact on the responses chosen. The incumbents analysed in this study included Ahold (with regards to Albert Heijn), the municipality of Amsterdam, and Platform Premair Onderwijs. In order to analyse these responses, a taxonomy of response strategies was also developed by combining the theory and empirical findings of two different authors.

Findings for this research include that all three incumbents responded in different ways to the issue, although all did change the appearance of Black Pete to their products or celebration helpers. It was evident that the response categories differed depending on which grassroots groups were taken into consideration.

A summary of the thesis, which is about the grassroots initiative around the Black Pete discussion, can be found here.

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