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DAAD Application for WIPCAD 2018


The University of Potsdam,

Research Training Group on

“Wicked Problems, Contested Administrations:
Knowledge, Coordination, Strategy” (WIPCAD)

calls for applications for:

2 Doctoral Fellowships
funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Application Deadline: 28. February 2018

Download application call (PDF)

1.        The Group


The Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Potsdam calls for applications for its Research Training Group on “Wicked Problems, Contested Administrations: Knowledge, Coordination, Strategy” (WIPCAD). Wicked problems create conditions of high complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity to which public organizations need to respond. The tensions emerging in this context can destabilize organizational structures and routines, and call traditional methods of administration into question. Contestation occurs in various areas of organizational activity, from knowledge use and transfer to internal and external coordination and strategy building. The Research Training Group carries out studies of the interrelationships between wicked policy problems and the contested development of administrative practices and organizational structures, both within public organizations and between civil society and the private sector.

The WIPCAD research program is based on systematic interdisciplinary cooperation between political and administrative sciences, organization studies, sociology and public management. It is underpinned by a qualification and gender equality concept that encourages junior scholars from both Germany and abroad to engage with neighboring disciplines, conduct theory-based research, acquire the necessary research skills, gain international experience, and prepare them for future careers in academia and in the public sector.


2.        The Scholarships


All doctoral fellowships will start on October 1, 2018. Scholarship holders will receive a monthly stipend from the “Graduate School Scholarship Programme 18“. The scholarship award comprises:


  • a monthly stipend of EUR 1,000
  • a travel allowance based on your country of origin
  • a combined health, accident and liability insurance
  • a study and research allowance of EUR 460 per year
  • a rent and/or family allowance, if applicable


In addition, grants for material costs of EUR 1,000 per year are possible. The scholarship will be for up to a three-year period, contingent upon the successful completion of each year. Extension to a fourth year will be possible only in exceptional and very well-founded cases.

 DAAD scholarship holders will be identified by a two-step procedure. In step one, WIPCAD will nominate   appropriate candidates for a DAAD scholarship as the hosting program. In step two, the nominees (2 for each place) submit an online application with supporting documentation via the DAAD portal and the DAAD selection board takes the decision.


3.        Topics


Topic 1: “Capabilities-based approach to public strategic management”

Description: Strategic Management approaches gain importance and attention also in public administration. In the field of strategic management studies, the capabilities-based view (CBV) has played a more important role recently. Interestingly, this has not been mirrored in the scientific public management community accordingly. Instead, performance of public organizations is one of the defining questions in the field. Consequently, a better understanding of organizational capabilities - as antecedents of performance as well as outcomes and effects of strategic management - and their relevance in the public sector seems to be necessary. A CBV-perspective might help to better understand and explain administrative responses to wicked problems. Proposals are welcome that analyze public administrations’ strategic management approaches from a CBV-perspective, particularly with regard to the connection between organisational capabilities and performance.

Potential supervisors: Prof. Dr. Isabella Proeller, Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann

Topic 2: “Attractiveness of government as employer – what motivates people to work for government?”

Description: In many countries, governments are experiencing serious challenges in recruiting and retaining necessary human resource capacities. At the same time, the public sector regularly offers a very different and particular employment package than the private or the non-profit sector. To offer and maintain sustainable employer attractiveness and human resource capacities, it needs to be better understood what actually motivates people to (continue to) work for the public sector (not restricted to Public Service Motivation) and which long term effects employment incentives have on the motivation and human resource capacities in the public sector. Proposals are welcome that will analyze antecedents of employer attractiveness, perceptions and effects of certain incentives and employment features, as well as motivational constellations of public employers and their dynamics.

Potential supervisors: Prof. Dr. Isabella Proeller, Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann

Topic 3: “International, National and Subnational Carbon Governance Arrangements – Moving Ahead with the Paris Agreement”

Description: In recent years, governments and public administrations have started to design effective mitigation and adaptation policies, and have come up with a series of action plans and NDCs. While national governments and international organizations have led these efforts in the past and mobilized climate finance, nowadays subnational governments and local policy makers are also becoming increasingly engaged. Jointly with local constituencies and the private sector, some cities and city-networks have started mobilizing resources for low-carbon transitions and local adaptation, with a series of innovations in governance. It remains to be seen, however, whether such arrangements at the local level will be effective and regarded legitimate, and/or what kind of multi-level frameworks would need to be in place for sustained action, for mobilizing climate finance, and for moving ahead with the Paris agreement.

Successful candidates are expected to have (i) a keen research interest in international, national and subnational public administration, with a focus on climate governance and low-carbon transitions; and (ii) a good knowledge of applying social science research methods. Candidates are requested to outline a research proposal focusing on (one or more of) the above-mentioned topics from an IR or comparative perspective. We welcome quantitative, qualitative, or mixed- methods approaches.

Potential supervisors: Prof. Dr. Harald Fuhr, Prof. Dr. Kristine Kern, Prof. Dr. Heribert Dieter


4.        Admission Requirements


Applicants must hold a Diploma or a Master’s degree in political and administrative sciences, sociology or (public) management. Familiarity with organizational research is a plus. In exceptional cases, graduates with degrees from related fields may be considered.


Key selection criteria are the quality of the PhD proposal, how well it falls in with the overall thematic agenda of the Research Training Group, its innovative potential, and its likely contribution to existing knowledge in public organizations and administration.


The Faculty strives to increase the proportion of women in the university and hence strongly encourages women to apply. Applicants with disabilities who are equally qualified will be favored.


Scholarship recipients will participate in seminars of the Faculty and write their own dissertation in English. Proficiency in English is required.


Applications should be submitted via email by 28. February 2018 to:



5.        Application Documents


Please submit the following documents in English:


1.         A letter of motivation specifying your academic and professional interests, your current goals, study and career plans. Furthermore, explain why you deem our doctoral program appropriate for your particular background (in English, not exceeding 1,000 words).

2.         An abstract of your proposal (max. 1 page).

3.         Your research proposal of the planned dissertation project (only one research proposal) not exceeding 2,500 words (core text, about 5 pages, bibliography excluded). It should contain

o   summary

o   research question(s), hypotheses and objectives

o   state of research (outlining theoretical and empirical debates on your topic as well as deficiencies in the literature that your dissertation proposal would address)

o   research methods to be employed

o   short bibliography

4.         The proposal should also include a work schedule listing planned periods and destinations of research or field trips. If you plan a field study, please also submit a short work plan and schedule about the field trip (when, where, how long).

5.         A complete curriculum vitae - with full contact details and information on your educational background and professional experience, publications and language skills.

6.         Two letters of recommendation from persons qualified to evaluate your academic qualifications, including your skills in methods, and – where applicable – your professional qualifications, e.g. university professors from the home university, issued during the last two years.

7.         Certificates or translated documents:

o   school leaving certificate (College, GSEC, etc.) qualifying for admission to higher education in your own country

o   certificates of annual examinations taken at the home university (transcripts of records)

o   certificates of any academic degrees or advanced qualifications showing grades and explaining the home grading system (description of grade scale)  
(For French-speaking countries: License or Maîtrise with Assez-Bien along with a DEA/DESS degree or a Master’s degree according to the LMD system.)

8.       Certification of English Proficiency providing proof of your C1 level English language skills, or equivalent.  (see below)

9.       A list of publications. (if applicable)



6.        Formal Requirements


·       At the time of application, candidates should not have lived in Germany for longer than 12 months.

·         The last final examination for the highest university degree (usually the Master's degree) should not have taken place more than six years ago.

·         The total duration of the fieldwork must not exceed 25% of the duration of your scholarship (i.e. no more than 9 months of field work during a three-year scholarship).

·       Minimum scores as proof of your English proficiency (cf. application no. 8):

·       TOEFL: paper-based test 600, internet-based test 100

·       IELTS: Band 7.5

·       Cambridge Certificate: CAE pass

Scores must have been officially reported and accomplished within the last two years. The personal score report must be attached to your application.
Applicants who are native speakers of English or who have obtained either their High School Diploma (e.g., passed their A levels), or earned a university degree at an institution where the language of instruction is English, are exempt from this requirement.

·       Certified copies of all translated documents (cf. application no. 8 above) must be submitted to DAAD only after a letter of award has been received.