Marjolijn De Wilde

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MARJOLIJN DE WILDE is main researcher at the project "Discretion and work conditionality in welfare practice in Europe" (2014-2018).

The implementation of social policy legislation has a multidimensional character. It is contingent on several levels, for example, the country, the organisation, the social worker and the client. First of all, implementation depends on existing legislation (country) and the characteristics of clients who are deemed eligible for the specific policy (client). Second, the extent to which decision-making power is decentralised to subnational levels (region, municipality, organisation, team) and the degree to which these subnational levels use their policy-making and implementing discretion result in treatment variation across implementing organisations and municipalities, and thus on the actual treatment of eligible clients. Furthermore, as social policies are often implemented by local case managers, the degree of discretion offered to or used by these individual professionals is a third overarching and influential factor. A final level is the European coordination of national policies.


It is particularly difficult to account for all of these levels using one research method. This is due partly to data-gathering limitations, but also to paradigm differences between research fields. In her PhD Marjolijn demonstrate how factorial surveys (experimental vignette research) have the potential to overcome methodological limitations, and, in doing so, provide opportunities to study the multi-level nature of social policy implementation.

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