STS Conference 2023: Moving Forward in Time

A sociotechnical systems (STS) perspective on the future of Organizations in the Public Services

Wednesday, September 13 - Friday, September 15 in Maastricht, the Netherlands (optional culture day Tuesday, September 12).

For registration click HERE.

In this roundtable of the global network of SmarT organizations we analyze the challenges public organizations face and the solutions they can discover from an STS point of view.

Like in STS theory, human connection is a key success factor for this 2023 conference. This is why it offers ample opportunities to network and to connect, among which is a gala diner at Château Neercanne.

Together with the Global Network for SmarT Organization Design and over 20 speakers, this year promises again to be an exciting conference. Using a mix of presentations, deliberations and practical workshops, as well as a real life case study, we as a team can make a difference!

Access to the 3 day conference (13,14 & 15 September 2023), including the reception on Tuesday evening, 12 September and the galadinner on 14 September can be purchased after clicking on on the link displayed above (indicated by "HERE"). You can then choose whether you want to participate in the cultural day on 12 September for an additional price of € 75.

Public Sector Challenges

Public sectors like Welfare, Education and Healthcare face growing pressure

In many countries there is growing concern about the public services. Welfare, Education and Healthcare especially face the brunt of this pressure via increases in demand and higher complexity, labor force shortages, tighter budgets, shifts to a sustainable future and so on.

On the other hand, digital technology offers opportunities but at best only yields marginal gains with the current organizational forms: "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them" (A. Einstein). Solutions for these problems are sought in more staff, shared service centers, standardization and centralization and so forth. However, these are the kind of solutions which increase bureaucracy and are ultimately a death end path.

This year's STS conference explores what systemic changes public sectors should carry out in order to face these challenges.

Meet our Keynote Speakers


Principal Organisational Consultant, Coach and Researcher at the Tavistock Institute                           

Camilla Child

Emeritus Professor, Former Chief  Medical Technology & Innovation     Officer @ University Hospital Leuven      

Frank Rademakers

Senior Full Professor Sociology of        Work & Organisation @ KU Leuven                                               

Geert Van Hootegem

Assistant Professor in Ethics & Philosophy of Technology | Programme Director BA Digital Society

Katleen Gabriels

The Program

Tuesday - 12 September

A visit to Maastricht and its surroundings. with time to (re-)connect with peers prior to the conference. In the evening there will be a welcome drink to kick-off the conference.

Wednesday - 13 September

The first day which features multiple keynote speeches that set the stage for STS in a time where public sector is under pressure. The afternoon builds on this intro and questions the way organisations organise work, how digitalisation influence this design. The workshops focus on different public sectors such as healthcare, government, education and the military.  

Thursday - 14 September

Focuses on advising the Maastricht municipality on how to design their future municipal organisation. It features a workshop, team-deliberations and presentation of results. We end with a dinner at the nationally known Château Neercanne.

Friday - 15 September

The last day focuses on STS design on the micro-level. It features a keynote and team deliberations with presentations. The conference is closed with a reflection on the key lessons learned.

Tuesday - 12 September







Maastricht Underground

Maastricht above ground cultural tour

Reception at the old city hall Maastricht municipality

Wednesday - 13 September




























Registration (distribution of badges)

Opening (President Maastricht University Prof. dr. Rianne Letschert and President USI Matthijs Moorkamp) & icebreaker

Part 1 setting the stage: Looking back, Tavistock on STS and beyond by Camilla Child, Msc. (Tavistock Institute, London)

Part 2 setting the stage: Looking forward, STS trends (Design Team)


Keynote 1: Em. Prof. Dr. Frank Rademakers (KU Leuven) - "the health and care professionals of the future" + Q&A

Keynote 2: Dr. Kathleen Gabriels (Maastricht University) - "AI and ethical issues in the public sector" + Q&A

Intro afternoon

Lunch & sign-up for sessions

3 parallel workshops:

  1. "Future of organization in the public sector: Design or default?" by Stu Winby.

  2. "Workshop: Exploring close ties between STS and action research?" by Haga Trond & Hanne Finnestrand.

  3. “Overcoming challenges in recruiting a more diverse military workforce.” Ezra Dessers & Anne Guisset

3 parallel workshops:

  1. "STS change and wicked challenges in the public domain" by Eric-Hans Kramer & Matthijs Moorkamp.
  2. "Digital working environment" by Friso van der Meulen & Ruud Böhmer.
  3. "A STS perspective on organizing Dutch youth mental healthcare" by Dirk Vriens, Patrick Vermeulen & Emy Smolders.

3 parallel presentations:

  1. "Human-centered people practices in two state agencies" by Douglas Austrom.
  2. "Community empowerment for handling societal challenges" by Marijne Liese.
  3. "How to keep our heart for education healthy?" by Angelique de Rijk, Miriam Jansen & Marike Smulders.
Moving forward: lessons for the future & Info Day 2, Tips for Evening


    Thursday - 14 September




















    Walk to the city hall

    Welcome to Maastricht municipality

    Info, challenge and Q&A - Organizational renewal at Maastricht Municipality


    Iteration 1: Deliberation on organizational challenges (3 clusters)

    Iteration 2: Integration of the clusters, focus on design


    Iteration 3: Change & implementation (leadership, change & communication)


    Presentation and recommendations to the Maastricht municipality


    Free time in Maastricht

    Bus trip to Château Neercanne for gala-diner

    Gala-diner at Château Neercanne

    Departure to the hotel

    Friday - 15 September
















    Social Dreaming by Camilla Child, Msc. (Tavistock Institute, London)

    Recap day 1 & 2, intro day 3

    Keynote 3: Prof. Dr. Geert Van Hootegem (KU Leuven) Dealing with Labor Market Challenge by Organizational Design

    Deliberations in small groups: STS design and the micro level, incl. reporting out


    Parallel case presentations: participants discuss solutions and evaluate the solution the organization implemented:

      1. Jan Vanwezer (Woonzorgnet Dijleland vzw) - Director of "De Wingerd", a residential care  center

      2. Ben Smeets (FOD BOSA, the personnel department of the Belgian Federal Government) - Directeur-Generaal Recruitment & Development


    Deliberation on Lessons Learned from Conference by Bert Painter

    Outlook on conference 2024


    Venue, Accommodation & Travelling

    The conference will take place in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Maastricht

    We will be in a larger conference and depending on the type of session the larger room will be split up into smaller rooms.

    We have reservations for 40 rooms based on a special conference fee: 149 euros for a single room and 169 euros for a double room. These conference rates are valid until March 31. After that, the number of available rooms for these rates will decrease and from May daily prices apply. We recommend to book as soon as possible, as September is quite busy touristic month which reflects in room rates.

    Keep in mind that the weather in September will be between 15-20 °C. Click on the icon below for a link to the route.

    How to book the Crowne Plaza Hotel    in Maastricht at discounted rates?

    By clicking HERE or on the Crowne Plaza logo you will be taken to the booking site. There are few points to take into account when booking:

    • Click on the "Book now" button at the bottom, next to the date fields and NOT on the "Book now" button on top.
    • To have the discounted rates you should only select the dates of the conference (12-15 Sept.). You can contact Marion Severeijns in case you also want to book Monday 11 sept. AFTER you booked your stay for the conference dates 12-15 Sept. Her email:

    Reaching Maastricht and the venue         

    Maastricht can be easily reached by train. The train station (link) is located at 700 meters or 9 min walking from the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Click on the icon below for the location on Google Maps.

    For flights, we recommend the aiprorts of Amsterdam, Brussels (Zaventem), or Dusseldorf and subsequently a train to reach Maastricht.

    Train tickets can be best purchased from the country you are departing from (access the website by clicking on the logo):

    Netherlands      Belgium            Germany


    The Design Team    


    Organisatiedesign en -ontwikkeling. Expertise in zorg en non-profit

    Chris Sels

    Principal Organisational Consultant, Coach  & Researcher @ the Tavistock Institute

    Camilla Child

    Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter @ Universität Duisburg-Essen                

    Erich Latniak

    Initiate change in organisations - Specialising in healthcare organisations

    Jean-Pierre Boijmans


    Adviseur ST-Groep                                             

    Pierre van Amelsvoort


    Associate Professor & Disruptive Org-Digital Thinker

    Mark Govers

    For any questions or remarks on STS 2023 an email can be send to

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