IIAS Director General - Sofiane Sahraoui

Another year of the new normal has elapsed. It was a mixture of joy and sorrow.

Sorrow first for the loss of our dear colleague Johanna Nurmi from Finland, an EGPA steering committee member and long-term associate of our network. She will be fondly remembered. Sorrow also for the number of other people whose lives have been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Johanna (ourselves included) and our most sincere solidarity with all of those afflicted by the Coronavirus crisis.

Despite these unhappy events, IIAS and its entities continue to be resilient during these trying times. As expected, 2021 was better than 2020, when we were taken by surprise by the pandemic surge. While in 2020 we had to cancel all our events and hold them online on an experimental basis, in 2021, we had a joint online IASIA/IIAS conference and a hybrid EGPA 2021 conference, held in Brussels. Both were successful on all counts. First, we were able to hold a full-fledge online conference with a diverse programme and significant participation. It was proof that the online conference model was a viable alternative to the conventional onsite model when the latter was not feasible. Moreover, the EGPA 2021 hybrid model with one-third of participants onsite and two-thirds online allowed us to experiment successfully with the hybrid model. Again, it was a remarkable success both programme-wise and financially.

The new normal was a major impetus for continuing to solidify our presence and value-add with our members. Our accreditation services picked up significantly under the new ICAPA organisation. A number of institutions are in the pipeline for being accredited and many more have expressed an interest in doing so. We had a number of manuscripts published under the Palgrave series and the new IIAS Public Governance series. While the former is well established and highly sought after, the latter is quickly attracting interest with two manuscripts already published and another two currently under review. Open Access is not limited to our book series, however, but includes a whole new system of channeling conference papers to partner journals along with our own Open Access Journal (Developments in Administration -DinA), which has been relaunched this year. In 2021, we were able to maintain a regular stream of consulting revenue that allowed us to keep our financial numbers positive for the year.

A new service, which will become increasingly strategic in the years to come, has been introduced in 2021, IIAS affiliated research centres. We have established the first such centre in partnership with the National Interdisciplinary Institute on Aging at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, China on “Governance for sustainable aging .” We are already working on a second centre, which we will announce soon. Our plan is to transform some of our working groups in the different entities into research centres with their own governance, resources, and consistent scientific production. This will create a steady flow of knowledge into IIAS dissemination channels.

Overall, the perspectives for 2022 are very promising. We already have partners for the three main conferences of IIAS (Rome), IASIA (Rabat), and EGPA (Lisbon). All of our dialogues will restart TED, TAD, and EUROMENA. The IIAS Academy will be offered anew, and the IASIA e-learning platform will hopefully see the day of light this year. We are aiming for a similar performance as in 2019 when we posted a record financial result and a full roster of programmes, activities, and services.

In terms of support activities, we have redesigned our visual identity and improved our communication. We are in the process of re-evaluating some of our long-standing service contracts such as for accounting and IT in an effort to further rationalise our overhead.

Our personnel count remains steady with five full-time staff and one part-time, but we have utilised internship resources heavily. We enrolled five interns during the year who have contributed significantly to our enterprise. We will continue with this strategy as it allows us to hire the required resources just in time and for specific duties for which they are fully qualified. Moreover, as our budgetary situation does not allow us to hire full-time staff in Brussels, especially for administrative support, we will continue to rely on temporary interns to fulfill our needs for the year to come. This also allows us to involve people from our global network. This has become easier to do as telework is gradually becoming the norm.

IIAS, like most other organisations, has adapted well to the new normal. We are now able to operate remotely. Though we continue to go to the office whenever it is allowed, we had no problem adjusting to the requirement of telework mandated by the Belgian government. We are currently in the process of reviewing our work regulations to make telework an integral part of our modus-operandi.

On the financial side, we have been able to post positive results for the last four years. The Covid-19 crisis has impacted us by bringing down our margins to the minimum, but we have proven resilient enough to undergo the most severe of conditions yet keep afloat.

Our foremost challenge is to keep relevant and offer significant value-added to our members. Our members have shown us keen loyalty during these challenging times by staying on board with us. Our state members, who constitute 80% of our membership revenue, have all paid up their annual fees or are in the process of doing so. A new state member joined us in 2021, the Institute of Public Administration of Jordan. We will continue to pursue the enrolment of state members as they form the backbone of our network. We have already approached potential candidates.

In retrospect and at the end of this year 2021, we would like to thank you all for your great support and involvement with us. Our governance boards, which will gather here in Brussels soon (as well as remotely for some), have been very cooperative. To our large membership, conference participants, subscribers to our review, and many others, we wish a good end of the year and greetings for a new year full of joy and good health.

“Setting the Governance Agenda… since 1930”

Sofiane SAHRAOUI, PhD IIAS Director General