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Research projects

Administrative corruption and implementation

Corruption is a rising problem in Europe after the expansion of the EU to include a range of post-communist countries. Why there is such a high degree of corruption in these countries is hard to make sense of. Several researchers suggest that the Soviet administration has fostered a culture in which corruption is an accepted norm. Others point out that the conversion to a market economy, the privatisation of government property and general impoverishment have given increased incentive to enter into corrupt relations. This research project is focused on the question of whether reforms of public administration have further facilitated the individual public employee’s ability to make decisions to his/her personal economic benefit, i.e. enabling corrupt behaviour, and whether these employees find this kind of behaviour acceptable.  

Project manager: Karin Hilmer Pedersen

Autonomy and Quality in Care

Within the framework of this larger research programme, the specific research project is entitled ‘Equal access to local health services through national regulation of coordination?’ This is a comparative analysis of Denmark and Norway; it is based on health agreements, which encompass the national, regional and local levels, and focuses on the hospital discharge of older patients as a particularly challenging case of coordination.

Project manager: Viola Burau

Categorization among Danish Street-Level Bureaucrats

The aim of this research project is to investigate categorization practices of three different street-level bureaucrats: Home nurses, Teachers and pree-school teachers. The objective is to investigate how and by what means they understand the manifold and differentiated social realities confronting them every day, and further to understand the crucial factors shaping the categorization of citizens.

Project managers: Gitte Sommer Harrits and Marie Østergaard Møller

Project website: www.categorization.dk

Causes and Policy Consequenses of Agenda Setting (CAPCAS)

This project investigates why societal problems gain or lose attention on the political agenda and how this agenda setting process matters for policy decisions. It is well-described in the agenda-setting literature how political systems tend to ignore even very serious problems for prolonged periods of time. The objective of this project is to develop and test a new theory about how the political agenda and policy decisions are shaped by the interaction of problems, preferences of the policymakers, and the institutional design of the policymaking process. Focusing on the effect of one variable at the time – problems, preferences, or institutions – might be justifiable if they were just additive components of a general model of public policymaking. The contention of this project, however, is that they work in combination, which implies that the combined effects of problems, institutions, and preferences deserve far more scholarly attention than they have typically received.

Project Manager: Peter Bjerre Mortensen 

Causes of Bureaucratization

This research project is focused on the rule-based bureaucratization of Danish society. In previous research on the topic and in the public debate, many claims have been made about the extent and speed of the increase in regulations and about what has caused this development. In answer to the former issue, the results of this project suggest that the actual net growth has in fact been far more moderate compared to what earlier research has deduced. And in answer to what explains the development, the results challenge common perceptions of the major influence commonly ascribed to government officials, media and the EU. A central conclusion of this project is that these perceptions and the research-based literature on rule based bureaucratization tends to overlook how essential (the competition between) the political parties are to these processes.  Moreover, the results of the project suggest that new management ideas, which are often put forward as alternatives to strict regulation, have not helped lower the amount of regulation - quite the opposite, actually. The project thus contributes to both the research-based discussion about bureaucratization and regulation of the public sector and to the common social debate about bureaucratization and deregulation, which - as this project has shown - has formerly been conducted on a misleading basis.

Project participants: Mads Leth Felsager Jakobsen and Peter Bjerre Mortensen

CUPESSE

The CUPESSE project carries out a comparative analysis of both the demand and supply side of youth unemployment in eight EU Member States. We expect that investigating this cross-country variation allows for achieving a comprehensive understanding of the causes and effects of the very high levels of unemployment among young people in Europe, which should subsequently allow us to better assess the effects and effectiveness of labor market policies designed to mitigate this phenomenon.

Project manager: Carsten Jensen

DEDERE

Since the beginning of the 1900s, still more countries have become democratic, but the process has been unclear, characterised by repeated relapses or periods of stagnation. The researchers involved in the project DEDERE aim to answer three questions:

  • What are the overall patterns of democratic progress and decline in the period 1900-2012?
  • How can we explain these patterns?
  • And to what extent do we see similar causes and correlations across different periods and regions?

Project manager: Svend-Erik Skaaning

Project website: ps.au.dk/dedere

The Danish Election Project

The Danish Election Project was founded in 1971 and has conducted nation-wide representative surveys of all subsequent elections. The main purpose of the surveys is to identify the main reasons why people vote as they do.

Project manager: Rune Stubager

Project website: www.valgprojektet.dk 

Diverging Welfare State Reform in Scandinavia

The universal welfare state is probably the most characteristic feature of all the Scandinavian countries. Traditionally, it was believed that universal welfare states could only arise because this form was favoured by the middle class. But today, the universal welfare state is under pressure like never before. This project aims to investigate whether the crisis of the universal welfare state can be ascribed to the fact that the middle class has turned its back on the welfare state.

Project managers: Kees Van Kersbergen and Carsten Jensen

Embattled Dictators

External Influences on Political Crises in Authoritarian Regimes
The project examines how external actors (nation states and international organisations) influence the ability of dictators to maintain power in times of political crisis. In order to investigate this, the project will develop a database of all political crisis situations experienced by dictators worldwide in the post-Cold War period, and describe the role played by external actors in these crises situations. In this way the project will help us understand why some dictators succeed in remaining in power while others are deposed, thereby providing a greater insight into the factors that contribute to provoke political revolutions and regime changes all over the world.
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Project manager: Jakob Tolstrup

Ethnic diversity and social cohesion

A study of the significance of a neighbourhood’s ethnic makeup for the establishment of trust between people.
The consequences of increasing immigration and ensuing ethnic diversity are central in the political debate in Denmark as well as in international social science research. A basic question here is how the encounter with immigrants in the neighbourhood shapes the majority population’s view on ethnic minorities and other people in general. Is the encounter marked by positive reactions and contributes to counteracting prejudice about ethnic minorities and promoting a positive view on people that we do not know? Or is it rather marked by conflict and bad experiences, which in turn foster a negative view on people with different ethnic backgrounds and cause the majority to have less trust in other people in general? The researchers’ goal is to get closer to answering these questions.

Project description

Project manager: Kim Mannemar Sønderskov and Peter Thisted Dinesen (UCPH).

EUPERFORM

The project "Measuring the Performance of the European Union in International Institutions" analyses the European Union as a global actor. Focus is on EU’s performance in international institutions. The main aims of the research project are the following four points:

  • Increase scientific knowledge about the role of the EU as a global actor.
  • Develop and advance academic understanding on performance as a dependent variable in institutional interaction.
  • Identify key factors influencing the EU’s performance in the selected international institutions.
  • Generate comprehensive and comparative data concerning the EU’s role in international institutions.

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Project manager: Knud Erik Jørgensen 

Experiments with two-person teaching teams

The researchers behind the project aim to examine the effects of different two-person teaching approaches. The effects are measured on the extent of inclusion and special needs education in relation to the pupils’ well-being and academic development. At the same time, the researchers focus on the extent to which different management and teaching factors affect the outcome of the two-person teaching approaches.
This is largely a randomised experiment, which is carried out on behalf of the Danish Ministry of Education. 

Project managers: Helena Skyt Nielsen (Department of Economics and Business) and Simon Calmar Andersen (Department of Political Science and Government)

Trial programme on mother tongue-based education

This project seeks to examine the effects of different approaches to expanded education with a special focus on students with an immigrant background. The effects are measured on the well-being and academic development of the students. At the same time, the researchers focus on the extent to which different management and teaching factors affect the outcome of the different endeavours.
This is largely a randomised experiment, which is carried out on behalf of the Danish Ministry of Education.

Project managers: Maria Humlum (Department of Economics and Business) and Simon Calmar Andersen (Department of Political Science and Government)

How to Win with Words?

Automatic Biases and the Strength of Political Communication
Voters in modern society are on a daily basis faced with a flow of messages from politicians and other political elites. Some of these messages have a clear impact on voter attitudes. Just as often, however, politicians fail to communicate persuasively. Why do some communication attempts from political elites have a powerful impact on public opinion while others fail? Through a unique combination of cross-national surveys and laboratory experiments, the project investigates the claim that political communication that fit certain psychological biases are stronger and influence voter attitudes more than political communication that does not resonate with our biases.

Project Managers: Michael Bang Petersen and Lene Aarøe

Project website (the 'PoNE Lab' research unit): www.ps.au.dk/en/ponelab

Improving public service provision

The project aims to investigate the potential of reforming public service provision. A well-functioning public service delivery system is a sine qua non of a modern welfare state. But a large public sector raises several challenges. Public services consume a large share of GDP, which makes efficiency an obvious concern. At the same time quality, responsiveness, and equal access are important. Securing high performance on all relevant criteria represents a considerable challenge and, not surprisingly, governments constantly try to improve performance by reforming the provision of public services. This has been a trend for the past 10-20 years, and efforts are not slowing down. What types of reforms work? Do reforms have both intended and unintended effects? Do reforms have beneficial effects on e.g. efficiency, but negative effects on other criteria, e.g. responsiveness?

Project Manager: Søren Serritzlew

Project website: impuse.au.dk

INTERARENA - Interest Groups across Political Arenas

In all democratic societies a wide spectrum of interest groups seek political influence. The project: “INTERARENA – Interest Groups across Political Arenas” analyzes group influence towards the bureaucracy, parliament and the media. Among things the project seeks to establish which groups are successful in attracting the attention of the media or bureaucrats and thus affecting political and administrative decisions.

Project participants from AU:
Anne Skorkjær BinderkrantzPeter Munk Christiansen and Helene Helboe Pedersen 

Project website: interarena.dk

LEAP

Analysing the effects of leadership training and leadership strategies on organisational performance, we will contribute to the international literature on leadership and the domestic debate on steering and performance. We include both public and private organisations to test whether leadership effects differ between the sectors. We distinguish between transactional leadership based on exchange of rewards for effort and transformational leadership where leaders are focused on changing their followers' motivation and values.

Project manager: Lotte Bøgh Andersen

Project website: leap-project.dk

Luhmann

This project is concerned with what it means to carry out empirical research according to Luhmann’s system theory. The theme is thus methodological, but the approach is empirically founded, as the method itself is not analysed in an abstract manner solely for its own sake; rather, it is applied to areas such as organisation, personnel policy, statehood, regional research, welfare and health, language research, and so on.

Project manager: Gorm Harste

Meeting Tiger, Dragon, Lion and Jaguar

Challenges of European External Energy Governance with Emerging Powers
The economic crisis and growing competition from emerging markets such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa are putting EU ambitions of reducing carbon emissions under pressure. The project investigates how the EU can collaborate with competing emerging markets on energy solutions.

Project manager: Knud Erik Jørgensen

The Methodology of Political Theory

Thought experiments, intuition and challenges derived from experimental philosophy
The standard method in political philosophy involves the use of thought experiments and intuition as grounds for applying specific theories, principles and concrete political initiatives. However, in the field of so-called experimental philosophy, researchers have shown that people’s intuition is also affected by various irrelevant factors. If the arguments advocated by experimental philosophy are correct, it raises doubts about the standard method applied in the field of political philosophy. This project therefore takes up the challenge and examines whether and how the use of thought experiments can be justified in spite of the results put forward by experimental philosophy.

Project manager: Rasmus Sommer Hansen

Microfoundation

This project investigates the links between citizens, political topics and political parties. The claim is that, in the work to establish their political agendas, parties focus on specific topics with a view to attracting new voters. A decisive weakness of this approach is, however, that it disregards the different characteristics of different citizens.  It is not likely that all citizens will have the same reactions and take the same position on the same political topics. The project contributes to an understanding of which voters vote for which party, especially in the instance where a particular topic has been set to dominate the political debate or has been deployed by the political parties to attract new voters.

Project manager: Christoph Arndt

Passive clients or active co-producers?

Citizens’ contribution to the production of welfare services
To what extent does the public organisation of welfare services influence whether citizens act as passive clients or active co-producers of welfare services?  The provision of welfare services at schools, nursing homes, hospitals, etc. can be organised in different ways in relation to, among other things, the size of the service-producing units, the location of decision-makers and initiatives that involve the citizens. The researchers build and test a number of hypotheses about how this form of organisation affects the citizens’ contribution to the production of welfare services - a contribution which is potentially an enormous resource for welfare production. The empirical studies will be carried out in schools through the use of both qualitative and quantitative data.

Project manager: Morten Jakobsen

Perceptions of Social Stratification and Voting

In recent years, on an international scale, politicians, analysts and researchers have come to believe that the social stratification of voters has no significance in terms of  their voting behaviour. But this conclusion is based mainly on studies of objective social groups. This project aims to go the other way and focus instead on the voters’ subjective perceptions of what the social group structure looks like, and how the voters associate themselves and the political parties with this structure. The main claim is thus that the voters perceive certain groups to be more closely connected with certain parties, and this has a significant influence on how they asses the different parties and choose a party.

Project manager: Rune Stubager

POLIS

POLIS brings together researchers to study the role of political parties in contemporary Western democracies. Political parties are perhaps the most important political actors in democratic politics, and the core idea of POLIS is to study democracy through the lens of political parties and their interactions with voters and the mass media.

Project manager: Christoffer Green-Pedersen

Project website: ps.au.dk/polis

Public opinion formation: Who believes what, when, and why?

In view of how much discussion there has been recently about the power of the media, the ability of spin doctors to manipulate, etc., it is surprising how little we know about political opinion formation.  We know a lot about the distribution of political views, but we know very little about the more dynamic aspects of opinion formation: How does the population form political opinions, and what or who has the ability to change these opinions?

A central issue is the role of the political parties as opinion leaders. The project focuses on attitudes regarding political tolerance and the constitution of the welfare state.

Project participants: Michael Bang PetersenRune Slothuus and Rune Stubager

Project website: www.publicopinion.dk

Putting Attitudes into Context

Examining the impact of neighborhood characteristics on social and political attitudes
The research project deals with the impact of the neighborhood on the Danes’ social and political attitudes and aims to investigate whether the Danes’ view on society and their fellow citizens is affected by who they meet in their community. Are our attitudes towards economic redistribution and social security affected by how often we meet people in our neighborhoods who live on social security? Do our perceptions of immigrants and attitudes towards asylum seekers change, if we frequently encounter aliens in and around the neighborhood? And will our experience of our neighbors’ backgrounds and behavior have an impact on whether we trust other people more generally? The project seeks to answer such questions and thereby deliver a scientific contribution to the ongoing debate about the consequences of immigration, worn-down neighborhoods, ghettoisation and affluent enclaves.

Project description

Project manager: Kim Mannemar Sønderskov and Peter Thisted Dinesen (UCPH).

READ - working together on reading

The project aims to help parents to help along their children’s academic development and thereby contribute to the interplay between public services and the users’ contributions to these services. The effects are measured on the children and parents’ satisfaction with and involvement in the school. The experiment is based on a previous experiment with the same cohort of children, and it will therefore be possible to compare the effects of earlier and current efforts.
This is a randomised experiment under Trygfonden’s Centre for Child Research, which is carried out in cooperation with the Department for Children and Young People, the Municipality of Aarhus. 

Project manager: Simon Calmar Andersen

Regulating addictive activities

Why is there such a big difference in the way governments in different countries choose to regulate activities that can lead to addiction, such as gambling, smoking and alcohol? In some countries, the regulations are quite strict, and in others far more loose. The researchers behind the project are looking to find the reasons for this difference by researching regulations in three countries that are normally considered very much alike, namely Denmark, Holland and Norway. The project involves collecting a large set of data based on newspaper articles with the purpose of examining whether the rhetoric, how the activities are referred to in the media, has an influence on how government chooses to regulate the issues.

Project manager: Carsten Jensen

School management, teaching and student presentations

Based on questionnaire data from school managers and teachers as well as extensive registry data about students and their teachers, this project examines how various management and teaching factors affect the extent to which students’ benefit from their schooling.

Project manager: Søren Winter, the Danish National Centre for Social Research (SFI)
Selected project participants: Vibeke Lehman Nielsen,Mogens PedersenMaria Falk Mikkelsen (SFI and Department of Political Science and Government) and Simon Calmar Andersen(Political Science and Government) 

Do value appeals strengthen political messages?

A fundamental aspect of politics is being able to present the most convincing messages, which will cause voters to take a certain standpoint and thereby establish tomorrow’s majority. The project seeks to investigate why some political messages affect the position of voters more than others. This will be done through a new perspective, which incorporates existing research on political messages with studies of political values.
Traditional social science research has highlighted the fact that political values are central to citizens’ political opinion formation. Based on this insight, the researchers will examine the persuasiveness of value appeals in the presentation of political issues.  

Project manager: Lene Aarøe

The individualization of insecurity and the normalization of exceptionalism in international security: the case of targeted killings

This project investigates the rise of individual-based tactics in the fight against terrorism, more specifically the post-9/11 use of targeted killings. In concrete, it evaluates how and why the individual has become the target of international security concern and the recipient of coercive measures. In parallel, the project inquires how and why these practices are increasingly seen as legitimate by some liberal democracies, focusing on the most extreme of them: targeted killings via drones. 

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Project manager: Bruno Oliveira Martins 

The Governance of Coordination

Coordinating public health services for migrants in Québec
There is an extensive debate about how to address wicked problems of coordination in health services. An emerging body of studies points to the importance of governing coordination at the level of health systems. The research project aims to test and specify how this occurs by drawing on the literature on meta-governance. This is applied to an analysis of the coordination of public health services for migrants in Québec, which serves as a critical case study.

Project manager: Viola Burau

The organization of political advice

The project is concerned with the effects of different ways of organizing political ministerial advice. In a sense, the political systems in Denmark and Sweden are pretty similar. But they are very different in terms of how ministerial advice is structured. In Sweden they have numerous politically appointed government officials with administrative competences, who assist the minister. In Denmark, however, we have always adhered closely to the principles of the Weberian bureaucracy, which means that the ministers have very few special advisers, who are not allowed administrative responsibilities. The project is concerned with the consequences of these differences in the organization of political advice.

Project manager: Peter Munk Christiansen in collaboration with researchers from the University of Gothenburg

When and How Enclave Deliberation Leads to Extremism

The project seeks to examine when and how interaction in so-called “echo rooms” (closed environments in which people share central opinions) leads to extremism. Studies of the radicalisation of groups, e.g. the Red Brigades or Islamic Jihad groups on the internet, have underlined the extent to which conversations among equal-minded people in closed forums can lead to the development of extremist views and, finally, justification of violence. The project examines the significance of different variables, such as political/religious ideology, offline/online media, age and gender, as well as the effects of moderator intervention such as counter arguments and group priming.

Project manager: Lasse Lindekilde

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Revised 2014.08.04

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CVR no: 31119103

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