Conditions for sustainability of Academic Collaborative Centres for Public Health in the Netherlands: a mixed methods design

M.W.J. Jansen*, H.A.M. van Oers, M.D.R. Middelweerd, I.A.M. van de Goor, D. Ruwaard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Contemporary research should increasingly be carried out in the context of application. Nowotny called this new form of knowledge production Mode-2. In line with Mode-2 knowledge production, the Dutch government in 2006 initiated the so-called Academic Collaborative Centres (ACC) for Public Health. The aim of these ACCs is to build a regional, sustainable knowledge-sharing network to deliver socially robust knowledge. The present study aims to highlight the enabling and constraining push and pull factors of these ACCs in order to assess whether the ACCs are able to build and strengthen a sustainable integrated organizational network between public health policy, practice, and research.

Methods: Our empirical analysis builds on a mixed methods design. Quantitative data was derived from records of a survey sent to all 11 ACCs about personnel investments, number and nature of projects, and earning power. Qualitative data was derived from 21 in-depth interviews with stakeholders involved. The interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed, and manually coded as favourable or unfavourable pull or push factors.

Results: The extra funding appeared to be the most enabling push factor. The networks secured external grants for about 150 short- and long-term Mode-2 knowledge production projects in the past years. Enabling pull factors improved, especially the number of policy-driven short- term research projects. Exchange agents were able to constructively deal with the constraining push factors, like university's publication pressure and budget limitations. However, the constraining pull factors like local government's involvement and their low demand for scientific evidence were difficult to overcome.

Conclusions: A clear improvement of the organizational networks was noticed whereby the ACC's were pushed rather than pulled. Efforts are needed to increase the demand for scientific and socially robust evidence from policymakers and to resolve the regime differences between the research and policy systems, in order to make the bidirectionality of the links sustainable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number36
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Research Policy and Systems
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2015


  • Collaborative networks in public health
  • Knowledge production Mode-2
  • Push and pull
  • Scientific and socially robust evidence
  • TIME

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