We are outspoken advocates for the internationalisation of our region. Our work is almost exclusively done in Dutch, but in the spirit of “practice what you preach”, we want to provide some information in English too.
We are Blaauwberg, the only sociological consultancy firm in the Netherlands. We conduct research and provide visions with a soul. For clients in the public domain and beyond. We work with the metaphor of the young dog and the old wolf: we like to fight for our clients, with the necessary experience and overview.
Clients come to us when they are looking for new insights, the necessary energy and the power to realise. We always put their questions in context. Understanding the motives of players, bringing in sufficient history and economics. Facts and figures are important, but never without a story, interpretation and/or vision.
A report is often the end product. But it always goes hand in hand with action: knowledge transfer, choices, setting up an organisation, leaving a working design. Paper has to ‘live’. We are good at ‘community building’: seeing and strengthening the coherence in separate parts. At the level of a company, a neighbourhood, a city and a region.
We know a lot about the local economy, are well versed in the social domain and are passionate builders of civil society. And of government cooperation with that civil society. An established symbol of that drive is the entrepreneurial fund. A concept that was devised at our office and has since become a movement for emancipation of the local business community.
An overview of our team can be found on our “over ons” (about us) page.
The local economy is Blaauwberg’s “home court”. The Entrepreneurial Fund is a good example of this. But we do much more. From strategic analyses and sectoral research to economic monitoring.
Want to know how the labour market is performing in your region? We provide analyses with a healthy interplay between metrics and interpretation. Readable, accessible, context-rich and with practical starting points for policy.
We contribute new perspectives in a sector that bursts with formats. We bring in history and economics to challenge ‘urban myths’, arrive at new insights and bring knowledge back to the workplace.
Looking for a fresh perspective on an old or new problem? We offer you oversight in a turbulent, politically sensitive environment. Engage us as external experts to add more substance and context to your working environment.
We have extensive experience with knowledge transfer in course format. From one-off labour market master classes to a multi-day seminar focused on the region. You can ask us to provide a customised offer.
There are more areas and social questions that the clients involve us in. Sport, culture, regional marketing, public administration and more. We support with analysis, numerical insight and comprehensible text.
In its policy research, policy advice and policy support, Blaauwberg strives for the greatest possible user value for the client: if possible, the client gets a substantive story, informative and argumentative, provided with a lot of context, with an understanding of the political-administrative environment, nuanced but clear enough to be able to derive a course of action. Generating user value and creating a prospect of possible action for the client is the aim of the work.
Policy advice has no scientific pretensions in the academic sense of the word. That does not mean that policy advice is only practical in nature. Working style, handling of information, methodical choices and professional integrity are partly determined by a scientific inspiration.
Blaauwberg draws that scientific inspiration from the tradition that began in classical sociology with Max Weber (1864-1920). A second source of inspiration also comes from (late-classical) sociology: the Wiener Kreis.
Practical starting points in Blaauwberg’s work in which these principles become visible are:
- Preferably not a “snapshot” of a policy process. Preference for a historical approach: how did the city, the region, the social issue, the policy problem become what they are? What were the choices faced by the predecessors of today’s policymakers? How did they solve it then?
- Cautious use of numbers and measurement techniques. Putting aside numbers for which there is no plausible interpretation. Present numbers only in context, show connections.
- Rather twenty interviews with “movers and shakers” than a written survey of 500 respondents.
- Beware of firm statements about policy outcomes. Every estate agent knows: the value of a house is not determined by the builder’s effort. It is surroundings – surroundings – surroundings. What is true for a house is even more true for a social fact: the policy maker influences and adds, but decisive is context – context – context. All credit to policy makers who formulate the desired outcome in terms of dynamics and getting people moving, and not in terms of ‘look at my policy being effective’.
- There is no reality that can be portrayed completed with a dashboard. Therefore, do not suggest more governability of the market and society than is historically plausible. Relieve policymakers of the myth of the dashboard and address their interpretive capacity as acting subjects. The political reality is not an anonymous machine that you need to know how to control. It’s a dynamic story to be looked at with historical knowledge, integrity and modesty.
- Do not depict, but construct. To this end, try to link fact-finding, inspiration and activation. Use interregional, international and historical comparisons and metaphors. Try to enrich the context of policymakers, place their actions in a long-term perspective.
- Preference for academic economists with multiple perspectives: history, political context, numerical analysis, process understanding, and so on. Michael Porter (1947), the economist of the competitive relationship between regions, countries and sectors, is a good example.