Online Symposium 29 March
15.30 - 17.00 CET / 9.30 – 11.00 EST / 6.30 – 8.00 PT 

Public organizations are faced with turbulent times. They need to meet high expectations from political masters, public funders and the  publics they serve. Their performance is monitored relentlessly by media and parliament. The symposium will consider how public organizations may navigate change, criticism and controversy without sacrificing their core values and institutional identity. It will address questions such as:

  • When and how do public organizations become valued public institutions in their society, and why does that matter?
  • How can public organizations guard societal values when facing external headwinds?
  • How can organizational leaders instill and preserve cultures of dedicated and adaptive professional excellence? 

This event builds on the recent book Guardians of Public Value: How Public Organizations Become and Remain Institutions which contains 12 case studies of public organizations world wide that have risen to these challenges (free to download at: 

After a stage-setting plenary opening, selected case studies will be presented in in breakout sessions:

Dr Bert Koopman —Journalist and business history scholar on The Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra: Guardian of Symphonic Music 

Dr Charles Parker — associate professor of political science, Uppsala University The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Guardian of Climate Science.

Dr Liesbet Heyse — Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Groningen on Médecins Sans Frontières: Guardian of Humanitarian Values 

Dr Margo van den Brink — Assistant professor of spatial planning, University of Groningen on Rijkswaterstaat: Guardian of the Dutch Delta

Dr Susan Ostermann — Assistant professor of global affairs, University of Notre Dame on The Election Commission of India: Guardian of Democracy

In the second part of the symposium, two experienced public  sector CEOs will reflect on their experiences of stewardship of public institutions in turbulent times and take part in a Q&A:

Sylvo Thijsen — CEO of the Dutch National Forest Service and the 2019 Public Manager of the Year in the Netherlands

Alan Latourelle — CEO of Parks Canada (2002-15) and member of the Order of Canada

The seminar is convened and facilitated by the book’s editors, Professor Arjen Boin (Leiden University), Lauren Fahy, MPA  and Professor Paul ‘t Hart (Utrecht School of Governance).

Join us: 29 March 15.30 - 17.00 CET / 9.30 – 11.00 EST / 6.30 – 8.00 PT at : Participation is free, but please enroll by emailing

This event is supported by: the Vereniging voor Bestuurskunde, the International Leadership Association, the Canadian Institute for Public Administration, and Utrecht University.