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PhD on decision-making chain in the hydrogen economy (1.0 FTE) (V23.0173)

Job description

The “Hydrogen Works” program aims at realizing a continuous learning line in the Northern Netherland in the field of hydrogen. With education, training and courses at MBO, HBO, WO and post-initial (advanced professional) level. The educational institutions involved in the region are working together on a coordinated approach. This is the only way to develop continuous learning lines and to achieve synergy between the various levels of education.

This learning line include the training of ONE PhD Student in the hydrogen field at the crossroad between law and psychology.

We are seeking a PhD candidate that researches the synergies and mismatches between how law shapes the development of decision-making, from policy to plans to permits (so-called decision-making chain) and how people want to interact with such decision-making processes. Policy makers in the European Union are pressing for developing an hydrogen economy. However, climate change mitigation policies can still encounter societal opposition. Citizens might however oppose such a development, especially if they feel excluded from decision-making and overruled by vested interests. If organised well, participatory practices can potentially positively influence acceptability and perceived fairness of the hydrogen economy.

A key shortcoming, however, on public participation remains the mismatch between how participatory procedures are designed by legislation in the decision-making chain and people’s actual preferences for public participation and their behaviours during such procedures. In particular, people feel frustrated when during a participatory procedure for a permit, responsible parties relay on what has been decided at the level of (national) policy or plans to refuse discussing public proposals.

In this project, we aim at focusing on this specific issue by assessing the room for deviating from what has been decided at higher levels of the decision-making chain during participatory procedures concerning lower levels of the chain. Moreover, we focus on what effects any changes might have on public opinion from the perspective of perceived procedural fairness and legitimacy of the decision-making and the perspective of acceptability of the adopted decision.


The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, City of Talent. Quality has had top priority for four hundred years, and with success: the University is currently in or around the top 100 on several influential ranking lists.

The Faculty of Law ( is building on a longstanding tradition of four centuries. Its mission is to be an ambitious top-ranking faculty of law with both high-quality education and research, with a strong international orientation, firmly rooted in the North of The Netherlands.

The faculty creates and shares knowledge through outstanding education and research, benefitting society. With more than 5000 students and 500 staff the faculty is heavily involved in educating students, both Dutch and international. The faculty is a modern, broad and international institution, educating students to become forward-looking, articulate and independent lawyers.

All PhD students participate in the Groningen Graduate School of Law (GGSL - The GGSL organizes the education of Research Master students and PhD students in the Faculty of Law. The inspiring and stimulating research environment is evidenced by the last external research audit in 2017 that judged research of the faculty of outstanding quality and praised the GGSL for the way in which PhD students are supported and supervised from the start till the very end of the PhD.

This PhD project takes place in cooperation between the Energy Law Section and the Department of Environmental Psychology of the University of Groningen. The environmental psychology group’s mission is to understand human responses to environmental risks, such as climate change. This Phd position will also be part of the Like!Me Living Lab ( The Living Lab is a platform for joint research and for developing and sharing knowledge about public participation in decision-making. The University of Groningen is working alongside the provincial and municipal authorities, industry, interest groups and the public to improve public participation.


We expect the candidate to have:

● completed or be close to completing a Master's degree in law, or in another discipline but with a proven basic preparation in legal sciences
● ability to applying qualitative (e.g. interviews) and/or quantitative methods of research with human subjects
● ability to understand the language of the country in which to perform the empirical research (preferably the Netherlands, but alternative EU countries can be suggested)
● eagerness to publish international articles and write a dissertation
● enthusiasm to work in an interdisciplinary research team
● demonstrable competences as conceptual capacity, presenting, monitoring, planning and organizing
● good social and communication skills
● excellent command of English and academic writing skills.


● have not yet been awarded a PhD degree.


Conditions of employment

We offer you, following the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,541 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,247 gross per month in the fourth and final year for a full-time working week. The 30% tax scheme for extraterritorial costs may be applicable
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% year-end bonus
• a full-time position (1.0 FTE) for four years; Each successful candidate will first be offered a temporary position of 12 months with the option of renewal for another 36 months. Prolongation of the appointment is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the appointment period is to be expected. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and you will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty of Law.

Envisaged starting date: June 2023


The application should include the following:

• a cover letter explaining your motivation for the position.
• CV
• the names and contact details of two referees and an indication of whether we can contact them at this stage
• overview of grades and preferably writing samples (e.g. Master thesis)
● a 3-pagers explaining how you envisage to tackle the research.

Only complete applications submitted by the deadline will be taken into consideration.

You may apply for this position until 24 April 11:59pm / before 25 April 2023 Dutch local time (CET) By means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

The interviews for the position are scheduled for the week of third or fourth week of April 2023.

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:
Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:
We provide career services for partners of new faculty members moving to Groningen.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

  • Prof. Lorenzo Squintani, l.squintani

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.