In the last decade, the institutional and administrative organization of European welfare states have changed considerably, and continues to do so (see Hemerijck, 2013). These changes have been driven by economic, ideological, and administrative trends. Economically, the 2008-2014 financial and economic crisis has put strains on the budgets of all European countries. This has led to a new wave of austerity measures in European welfare states (Taylor Gooby, 2014; Ellison, 2014). Ideologically, self-sufficiency instead of government-dependency has become a new standard in many welfare policy areas (Morgen, 2001; Nalbandian, 2005). Administratively, the neo-liberal, New Public Management (NPM) agenda is replaced by the New Public Governance (NPG) agenda. This focuses on increasing the quality of service delivery through client-centered integration, collaboration and professionalism (Dunleavy et al, 2006; Rhodes, 1996, Osborne, 2006; Koppenjan, 2012).

These developments together imply a shift towards welfare states that are organized at a local or regional rather than a national level, that are demand-driven rather than supply driven, that put preventive policy instruments before curative policy instruments, and that put self-sufficiency before government support (see OECD, 2015; Kazepov, 2008; Andreotti et al., 2012). This research project focuses on the reality of the implementation, organization and management of integrated welfare service delivery on the local or regional level. The central research question is formulated as follows: Which governance conditions contribute to high quality, effective, efficient and integrated delivery of social care and support in local welfare systems?

To answer this question, our analysis focuses on the design, implementation and management of local welfare systems on three levels:

  • The micro level of tailor-made, individualized service delivery
  • The meso level of organizational and managerial processes in local welfare systems
  • The macro level of political participation and accountability in local communities.

In the remainder of this section, we will identify specific research questions for each of these levels:

From gate-keepers to facilitators? The new professionalism of (social) care workers

Chains, networks or Gordian knots? The organization and management of local welfare systems

Local welfare systems: blessing or curse for democracy?

See also the Bibliography.

EUR Research Excellence Initiative Research programme 2016-2020

The State of Local Welfare: Devolution of welfare state arrangements and the implementation, organization and management of welfare services