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Governance and Sustainable Society in Indonesia

Good governance is a key factor in the development of sustainable societies within middle-income developing countries such as Indonesia. In order to establish good governance, civil servants should have access to advanced research and training. The University of Groningen has designed a program for PhD candidates from Indonesia, focusing on the themes of bureaucratic reform, good governance, regional development, and innovative leadership. The SInGA (Spirit Indonesia Groningen) research program is funded by the World Bank and started in 2012.

Indonesian PhD's on a SInGA conference
Indonesian PhD's on a SInGA conference

An interdisciplinary program for Indonesia’s future leaders

Dr. Ronald Holzhacker, S enior Lecturer Political Science and International Relations, serves as Director of the SInGA program, and is one of the core supervisory team members of the program together with Prof. Rafael Wittek ( Social and Behavioral Sciences) and Dr. Wendy Tan (Spatial Sciences).Together with other colleagues from various faculties they offer an interdisciplinary program for civil servants moving into leadership positions within the national ministries of Indonesia, lecturers in Indonesian universities, and leaders from important civil society organizations. They are all working on the integration of theoretical and empirical perspectives on good governance. Currently there are nine Indonesian PhD candidates working on their thesis, six of them within the faculty of Arts (ICOG).

Suwatin Miharti
Suwatin Miharti

Organising health care in Community Health Centers

Suwatin Miharti is one of the PhD's within the SInGA program. Her research project studies the role of community health centres organization in improving the health performance in Indonesia. She tells us what she's doing and why this is important in Indonesian society:

"Decentralization has become the cornerstone of reform in Indonesia, including the health care sector reform since 2004. My research focuses on the role of Community Health Centres (CHCs) in providing the health care to the community. These Community Health Centers, in Indonesia we call them “Puskesmas”, are local centers (more than 9700) overseen by the Ministry of Health. Within decentralization system they have gained new decision space to determine the organizational strategy and propose budgets in financing the determined strategy. How does that work out? Is health care more efficient if these centers make their own choices? In my research I try to portray the whole picture of Indonesian primary health care system change, performance, impact to the society health, and the collaborative performance between health organization and community. To cover all these aspects my research is built up from four integrated studies. In one of them I focus on the effectiveness of collaboration between health organizations and community. This study revealed the strength and the density of the ties in the networks and that has an important effect on the health performance of the centers.

What makes this research motivating for me? This mixed research approach, with empirical but also theoretical research, combines theories and context into a testable hypothesis. I use qualitative and quantitative methods in understanding the health sector complex empirical evidences. That means studying public policy documents and reports, health care data and qualitative data from interview and observations. With this approach the research provides policy and managerial recommendations that would be beneficiary for Indonesian health care policy makers and managers. Particularly for myself as a researcher and trainer specialized in public service organization performance in the National Institute of Public Administration Indonesia, this research offers me a lot. I experience and learn from the CHCs in using their decision space to response innovatively to the community health needs. But also to manage the internal organization dynamics in providing efficient and effective health care, and managing collaboration with other actors. I can pass this knowledge to others in consultation and training."

Retno Marsudi and Ron Holzhacker meet at the spring conference
Retno Marsudi and Ron Holzhacker meet at the spring conference

Exchanging knowledge in Groningen and Jakarta

Exchanges of knowledge and experience within the group and with important stakeholders play an important role in the SInGA program. In the spring of 2014 a conference on good governance and sustainable society was held in Groningen, in which the PhD candidates presented chapters related to their research and received comments. Key notes speakers at the event included Ms. Retno Marsudi, Indonesian Ambassador to the Netherlands, later Foreign Minister, Rudolf Treffers, former World Bank Executive Director and Netherlands Ambassador to Indonesia, and Theo Thomas, Lead Economist at the World Bank.

Regular exchanges continue between the University of Groningen and Indonesia to discuss this governance research. Ronald Holzhacker delivered a series of lectures at Gadjah Mada University as a visiting professor in October 2014 and met officials at the University of Indonesia. In November University President Poppema and Holzhacker had a series of meetings in Jakarta at the Planning ministry and Finance Ministry to discuss the research. In addition, recruitment began for the next round of PhD candidates from Indonesia and the broader Southeast Asian region.

In the fall of 2015 a national conference on governance and sustainable society took place in Amsterdam with PhD candidates from several Dutch universities as well as universities in Belgium and the UK, originally from Indonesia and Southeast Asia, and invited guests from the scholarly, political, and diplomatic communities. The SInGa book ‘Decentralization and Governance in Indonesia’ (New York: Springer 2015) was launched during the conference.

Last modified:13 June 2019 2.26 p.m.
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