Newsletter 2015

Dear colleagues, Pieter Glasbergen

The highlight of the year was December 18, when Luli Pesqueira defended her doctoral thesis. This dissertation explores how NGOs manage and leverage collaboration with the private sector as a strategy to accomplish their mission. Her study is based on a few years action research with Oxfam Novib. This methodology, as well as the very personal style of writing, make this thesis an enjoyable read and a landmark in our research program. The full text we have put on our website. As so often the last years it was inspiring to work in a team with Prof. Pieter Leroy from Radboud University.

Luli currently works as Director Executive Studies at EGADE Business School in her home town Mexico City. Good to be home after all these years in the Netherlands!

But there was much more going on in 2014. For example, a conference early that year in Sulawesi with invited presentations by members of our team, and a workshop in November, again with presentations, in Yogyakarta. In between there were many other interesting workshops and conferences where we presented our research projects.

We also organized a small workshop for PhD students ourselves on the topic of Global Certifying Partnerships and Development. This was a very successful event thanks to the excellent speakers (see below).

Our five Indonesian PhDs finished their first research paper, which was either submitted to an academic journal or kept in store as a chapter in their thesis. Other PhDs in our program also finished book chapters and submitted papers.

Some of the concurrent questions are to what journal to submit a paper, is a book chapter also fine as a chapter in a dissertation, and what to do with journals that ask a handling fee? Let me reflect a little bit.

Is publishing in a high ranked journal always better than publishing in a lower ranked one? I am not sure. This depends of course on the audience that you want to reach. We have recently got excellent reviews from high-ranked journals. But also an excellent review on a paper that we submitted to a journal that is not JCR-ranked at all.

Moreover, reviewers always want changes to be made. In fact, when I write reviews myself I also come up with suggestions to improve the paper. PhD students are sometimes a little disappointed with critical reviews, but my experience is that some rewriting always improves the paper.

More frustrating is the time it takes to get the reviews. This is particularly the case when, luckily only seldom, a paper is rejected by the journal. At least half a year seems to be lost. It is understandable that reviewing takes some time, but sometimes I think that reviewers could have done it much quicker. In a 4-years dissertation project most papers will be submitted in the second half of the trajectory. Therefore, we regretfully cannot expect a lot of papers accepted.  

A book chapter or a paper in a journal? This question is not easy to answer. There was a time that in my field of research, broadly understood as political science, we were most proud when we published a book or were invited to contribute with a chapter to an edited book. A book gives the impression of a longer lasting contribution to your field of research than just a paper. But this has changed. At some universities book chapters do not count that much as prove of your academic work. I regard this a pity and suggest that we should not give in too much. A monograph, without any publication in a journal, should in my view also be possible and, of course dependent on the quality of the research, highly valued. 

What to do with journals that ask a handling fee? I always opposed submitting a paper to a journal that asks payments and also refused to write reviews for those journals. Why pay for my own work, while others make already some profit out of it. But I feel that it becomes more difficult to hold the tide. We recently submitted a paper to a journal that asks for such a fee because this seems to be the best journal for that paper. But we did it hesitantly and on my side still with a little bit of regret.    

Anyway, 2014 and early 2015 was again a period of publications in top-journals, in lower ranking journals, and there are upcoming book chapters. At the moment we have 8 papers in the review process.

With all the considerations expressed above we happily continue our research in the wonderful team we work with. In that process we meet many enthusiastic and inspiring colleagues: You!

Pieter Glasbergen

Chair Maastricht-Utrecht-Nijmegen Program on Partnerships (

Honorary professor Governance for Sustainable Development Maastricht University-ICIS Emeritus professor Environmental Policy Utrecht University and Open University