Leon M Hermans

Delft University of Technology
Technology, Policy and Management

P.O. Box 5015
Jaffalaan 5
2600 GA
l.m.hermans@tudelft.nl |  Visit Personal Website

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How do we support informed change and adaptation of public policies to address complex societal challenges? This question motivates my research, and translates into a rather broad research agenda. Throughout runs an interest in the application and further development of methods and approaches for policy analysis and policy evaluations, with water governance as a core area of application and with a strong interest in what happens after plans are formulated and agreed. Two ongoing research projects sponsored by the Dutch science foundation (NWO) focus on coalition building and local institutional dynamics in urbanizing deltas in the Netherlands, Bangladesh, India and Vietnam. Other research focuses on institutional arrangements that can support the implementation of novel ‘building with nature’ solutions in the Netherlands, and on the further development of approaches to support monitoring and evaluation for adaptive delta management, supporting collective learning in long-term planning trajectories. Theoretical frameworks that keep on inspiring my research are most notably the Advocacy Coalition Framework, the Institutional Analysis and Development and the SES frameworks and more normative approaches that colleagues in the Netherlands have developed, such as process and network management. However, more than on theoretical advances, I try to contribute to the further development of methods that can support practicing policy analysts and evaluators. I often work with various methods for actor analysis, a label under which I include for instance game theory and comparative cognitive mapping.

Phi, Ho Long, Leon M. Hermans, Wim J.A.M. Douven, Gerardo E. van Halsema, Malik Fida Khan (2015). A Framework to Assess Plan Implementation Maturity with an Application to Flood Management in Vietnam. Water International (online first).
Abstract: Implementation failure is a long-known Achilles’ heel of water and flood management plans. Contemporary planning approaches address the implementation challenge by using more participatory planning processes to ensure support for plans, assuming that this support will also benefit plan implementation. A proactive analysis of possible 15 implementation issues during the planning stage is not yet common. This paper introduces a framework based on the motivation and ability of actors, supported by concepts of triggers, threats and opportunities. A case application for flood management in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, demonstrates the use of this motivation-ability framework to assess plan implementation maturity.
DOI: 10.1080/02508060.2015.1101528
Cunningham, S.W., L.M. Hermans, J.H. Slinger (2014) A review and participatory extension of game structuring methods. EURO Journal of Decision Processes 2(3-4): 173-193. DOI 10.1007/s40070-014-0035-8
Abstract: Problem structuring methods are uniquely suitable for analysing strategically complex problems. There exist a subset of these problem structuring methods which focus specifically on structuring the decision processes by which multiple actors debate and potentially resolve complex problems. These methods include, but are not limited to, analysis of options, conflict analysis, exchange modelling, hypergame analysis and the theory of moves. In this paper we characterize these methods as “game structuring methods,” by describing their common analytical elements and discussing their theoretical pre-commitments. We further develop a standardized approach for using such a game structuring methods within a participatory modelling setting.
DOI: 10.1007/s40070-014-0035-8
Hermans, L.M. and S.W. Cunningham. 2013. "Actor models for policy analysis." W.A.H. Thissen and W.E. Walker, eds. Public Policy Analysis – New Developments (pp. 185 – 213). Springer, New York.
Abstract: This Chapter contains an overview of various model-based methods for actor analysis that policy analysts can use to obtain a better insight into multi-actor systems and processes. It is a recent update and extension of work done earlier (and published in a dissertation by Leon Hermans in 2005 and in a 2009 paper on actor analysis by Leon Hermans and Wil Thissen, referenced in this Chapter)
DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-4602-6_8
Van Overveld, P.J.M., L.M. Hermans and A.R.D. Verliefde. 2010. "The use of technical knowledge in European water policy-making." Environmental Policy and Governance 20(5): 322-335
Abstract: Environmental policy-making often involves a mix of technical knowledge, normative choice and uncertainty. Numerous actors, each with their own distinct objectives, are involved in these policy-making processes. One question these actors face, is how they can effectively communicate their technical knowledge and represent their interests in policy-making. The objective of this paper is to identify the factors that infl uence the use of technical knowledge and its impact on decision-making in the European Union. This is done for case of water policy-making for organic micropollutants, such as pesticides and pharmaceuticals. These pollutants enter the surface water in many ways and although concentrations are low, adverse effects cannot be ruled out. Via the EU Water Framework Directive, legislation has been developed to reduce the emissions of pollutants that pose a risk to ecology or public health. Using the advocacy coalition framework, the formal EU decision-making processes are analyzed for the identifi cation of priority pollutants (Priority Substances) and the derivation of maximum allowable concentrations (Environmental Quality Standards). To enable a detailed analysis, the focus is on three specifi c micropollutants that pose health risks via drinking water supply. The fi ndings show the extent to which actors can infl uence the decision-making process with technical knowledge. Early involvement in the drafting process that is led by the European Commission is important to infl uence decision-making outcomes. For this, organizational capacity in coalitions to mobilize and coordinate the required targeted contribution of technical knowledge is crucial. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.
DOI: 10.1002/eet.546
Breeveld, R., L. Hermans, S. Veenstra. 2013. "Water Operator Partnerships and Institutional Capacity Development for Urban Water Supply." Water Policy 15 (S2): 165 – 182
Abstract: One way in which international water operator partnerships can contribute to capacity development, is through the exchange of experiences with water institutions in different countries. This paper looks at a partnership between water operators in the Netherlands and Malawi to see to what extent institutional experiences in the Netherlands can contribute to capacity development of the Lilongwe Water Board in Malawi. For this, it combines insights from policy transfer, with a conceptual framework based on the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework. Stylized game theoretic models are used to analyze in-depth the institutional (dis)incentives that contribute to improved performance for customers. Experiences in the Netherlands are analyzed by studying four specific action situations, such as asset management at drinking water company Vitens NV. Potential lessons are derived from this, which are evaluated for potential transfer to Malawi. The analysis suggests ways in which improved information gathering and data management can support allocation of investment and budgets for operation and maintenance. Furthermore, it suggests ways to increase the frequency of encounters between government and financing institutions and water utilities, as well as the use of a system of benchmarking to provide a platform for sharing best practices and to create competition.
DOI: doi: 10.2166/wp.2013.018
Hermans, L.M., A.C. Naber, B. Enserink. 2012. "An approach to design long-term monitoring and evaluation frameworks in multi-actor systems - a case in water management." Evaluation and Program Planning 35 (4): 427 – 438.
Abstract: Learning-by-doing and adaptive management require careful monitoring and evaluation of the outcomes of environmental policies and programs under implementation. Selecting relevant indicators is difficult, especially when monitoring over a longer period of time. Further challenges arise when policies are developed as a collaborative effort among multiple actors. This paper discusses an approach to design frameworks for long-term monitoring and evaluation in multi-actor systems. It uses Dynamic Actor Network Analysis (DANA) as an actor-sensitive method to reconstruct program theories. This is combined with elements of assumption-based planning to identify critical assumptions and associated indicators to incorporate the dynamic aspects related to long-term monitoring. An application of this approach is described for a case of water management in the Netherlands. Here, mapping multiple perspectives and identifying critical assumptions helped to broaden the scope of monitoring in important ways. Identifying associated indicators and expectations on their development in response to policy implementation proved more difficult. From this case, it can be concluded that the approach is feasible, useful, but also demanding. However, with continuing trends of networked governance and adaptive management, additional efforts to reflect these trends in monitoring and evaluation, through this and similar approaches, are needed.
DOI: DOI: 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2012.01.006
Hermans, LM, JH Slinger, SW Cunningham. 2013. "The use of monitoring information in policy-oriented learning: Insights from two cases in coastal management." Environmental Science & Policy 24 (1): 24 – 36
Abstract: Policy-oriented learning is important for decision-makers who are confronted with complex societal problems. Learning can be supported by linking policies to implementation actions and expected outcomes, which then in turn can be monitored. Unfortunately, the use of monitoring information in decision-making is often diffuse and indirect. If one accepts the importance of, and the practical limitations to the use of monitoring information in relation to policy-oriented learning, what can reasonably be expected? To what extent do actors in a policy process adhere to these expectations regarding their collection and use of information to support decision-making over time? We have studied these questions for two policy processes in coastal management, one in the Netherlands and one in South-Africa; both related to infrastructures and spanning a 25-year period. Results show that actors who were driving the original policy decisions on coastal infrastructures devised monitoring strategies that addressed the issues most salient to their core responsibilities. Other issues, raised by other actors in early policy decisions, were monitored less intensively, if at all. Although understandable, this omission affected the possibilities for policy-oriented learning on these other issues, and limited the information base in subsequent policy games when these issues became more pertinent. This raises questions regarding the responsibilities for monitoring design and knowledge development in multi-actor settings.
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2013.02.001
Hermans, L.M.., S.W. Cunningham, J.H. Slinger. 2014. "The usefulness of game theory as a method for policy evaluation." Evaluation 20(1): 10 – 25
Abstract: Most of today’s public policies are formulated and implemented in multi-actor networks. Game theory has long been around as a method that supports a careful analysis of interaction processes among actors. So far, it has not been widely applied in the evaluation field. Hence, questions regarding the usefulness of game theory as an evaluation method remain pertinent. This paper addresses these questions, based on a review of literature on evaluations and game theory, and a case where game theory was used in an evaluation of coastal policy implementation in the Netherlands. The results suggest that game theory can help to open up the “black-box” of policy implementation, when implementation depends on the actions of several interdependent actors. This potential lies not so much in ‘hard’ mathematical uses, but in the use of game theory as a formal modeling approach that adds structure and rigour to the study of social processes.
DOI: DOI: 10.1177/1356389013516052

Substantive Focus:
Environmental Policy PRIMARY
Governance SECONDARY

Theoretical Focus:
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation SECONDARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation PRIMARY