Thesis Prize

Price for best Dutch Flexwork Thesis 2013 won by Wiljan van den Berge

On the occasion of the tenth year of existence of Flexwork Research Centre we initiated a new award in order to promote young researchers to do research in our domain: Best Dutch Flexwork Thesis.


A selection was made in the national online database of theses of all Dutch Universities. The database covers master- as well as bachelor theses. The search terms were focused  on the subjects of flexible work and employment service,  subjects which are the focus of the Flexwork Research Monitor. We selected theses published in 2012 and 2013. This resulted in a selection of 69 theses. After a first review 29 thesis proved to be applicable. These were all carefully studied and presented in the form of a short list of 8 theses to be judged by the jury, whereupon the jury selected two nominees and in the end a winner. 


The theses covered a wide range of research subjects, varying from how lower educated experience their future perspective on the labour market, HR flexibility practices in healthcare organizations to the relationship between labour flexibility, innovativeness and organizational performance. These theses prove that the changing way of organizing work is a fascinating but also complex phenomenon to study because it doesn’t fit in the way we are used to think about labour relations. With surprising conclusions as a result. 


Two theses drew the special attention of the jury. The thesis of Wiljan van den Berge and Mariska Logtenberg. Wiljan van der Berge graduated from Tilburg University. He studied displaced workers and the effects of outplacement and severance pay.  He studied a dataset of social plans covering more than 8000 workers. His main conclusion is that both severance pay and outplacement are not associated with a higher average probability of moving from job to job. With a slightly different picture for older workers. The jury believes that this subject is very topical since dismissals are every day events nowadays. Wiljan made an international comparison of arrangements and used a number of statistical methods to calculate effects of both instruments. He studied the subject very thorough but managed to write down his findings in an understandable way. 

Mariska Logtenberg  graduated from VU University Amsterdam. She studied the effects of motives of agency workers on their behaviour in organisations. In other words how does the motive to work as an agency worker effect the way you perform with the user-company. She distinguishes agency workers on a voluntary basis and agency workers who see agency work as the only way to obtain work. She finds that the latter group of agency workers shows a higher level of organizational citizenship behaviour, in other words they are willing to perform extra tasks which are not part of their job description.  The jury believes that the way Mariska combined the contractual relationship with behavioural and social effects is refreshing. She used a number of applicable theoretical frameworks to organise her findings. This leads to less obvious results.


The jury appreciated both theses very much, but had to choose between them. The winner of the Dutch Flexwork Thesis Award 2013 is Wiljan van den Berge. Wiljan received a certificate and also  a masterclass by Aart van der Gaag, director of ABU. As part of his price his thesis will shortly be published in the Flexwork Research series (nr.2), which can be downloaded here.