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James Coleman Lecture 2011 by prof. dr. René Torenvlied, May 12, Faculty GMW, Groningen

12 mei 2011

James Coleman professor by special appointment Utrecht University/Groningen University

‘'Managing Public Performance in the Asymmetric Society’

Date: Groningen, Thursday, May 12, 17.00 hrs.

Location: Kouwerzaal, GMW/RUG, Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, Groningen



Current problems in the public sector-such as coordination problems between agencies, or the recent and dramatic budget-cuts-have put the performance of public agencies under high pressure. The question of how public agencies can pursue the well-being of citizens draws attention to the problems of the "asymmetric society" and the rise of the corporate actor, as identified by James Coleman 30 years ago. Building on Coleman's typology of (inter)actions in the asymmetric society the lecture presents recent developments in the empirical-theoretical study of interactions among public agencies and their effect on the well-being of clients. Applications in the domain of education show grounds for reasonable optimism: school principals are able to positively affect the satisfaction of their students and the achievements of their pupils-while networking in the interdependent environment of their school. These results are discussed with reference to the problematic relation between natural persons and corporate actors in the asymmetric society.


The James Coleman Association

In 2002 the James Coleman Association was founded on the occasion of the third lustrum of the ICS (1986-2001). The purpose of the association is to promote training and research in the field of systematic theory building and development of methods in the social sciences. The Board of the James Coleman Association consists of: Frans Stokman (chair), Rie Bosman, Ronald Batenburg, Ariana Need, Tom Snijders, Reinhard Wippler and Mariëlle Bedaux.

Information: Jenny van Bachum (, phone +31(0)50-3636220)

Laatst gewijzigd:04 juli 2014 21:25

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