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

rug university groningen
  • Groningen
  • University of Groningen
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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.

Ole Gmelin

"Speaking Dutch in the Netherlands will always open certain doors for you when it comes to finding a job. But, it isn’t always a must."

Will you become our new PhD on decision-making chain in the hydrogen economy (1.0 FTE)? Apply at University of Groningen