Research projects

International relations

BNE - Building a New Europe (Euro-reforms)

What are the causes and consequences of the new ‘integration by stealth’ mode of constitutional reform in the EU? The BNE project aims first to catalogue systematically how the new mode differs from past rounds, followed by an explanatory analysis using both variation-based and case-based designs aimed at assessing the causes and the consequences of the new mode. 

Principal investigator: Derek Beach

Project website

SWAR - Secterianism in the Wake of the Arab Revolts

The SWAR project (Sectarianism in the Wake of the Arab Revolts – beyond primordialist and instrumentalist understandings of Shia/Sunni divisions in a new Middle East) takes its point of departure in the recognition of the fact that a Shia/Sunni divide has become a significant factor in Middle East politics. Against this background, it examines the causes, nature and consequences of the so-called ‘new sectarianism’ in the post-Arab Revolts Middle East based on an analytical approach inspired by historical sociology and constructivism. Couched in an interdisciplinary framework, it draws on and combines theories and methods from Political Science, Anthropology, Islamic Studies, and Middle East Studies.  

Project leader: Morten Valbjørn

Public administration and leadership


BPAN - Behavioural Public Administration Network

The Behavioural Public Administration Network is a network of academics and institutions that examine questions of public management from a behavioural perspective and implement experimental research designs. We are a community of scholars that offers mutual support to build capacity in this field. The network is organic, and is currently an informal organization. The Behavioural Public Administration Network is a network of academics and institutions that examine questions of public management from a behavioural perspective and implement experimental research designs. We are a community of scholars that offers mutual support to build capacity in this field. The network is organic, and is currently an informal organization.

CAPCAS - Causes and Policy Consequences of Agenda Setting

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

Contact with the Regional State Administration in connection with cases regarding parenting time

When parents get divorced or are no longer living together, the Regional State Administration can help reach an agreement or make decisions on parenting time. Previous evaluations have produced knowledge about factors that may impact the citizens’ interaction with the Regional State Administration on a general level, but now, a new research project will dig deeper.

Which organisational and personal factors contribute to ensuring good and successful proceedings for the parents and children who come into contact with the Regional State Administration in connection with cases regarding parenting time? This is the subject of the project.

Project leader: Vibeke Lehmann Nielsen

DSE Pupil involvement

The purpose of the project is promote pupil involvement in teaching activities at Danish primary and lower secondary schools and measure the ensuing effects on the pupils’ academic results, their well-being in school, learning motivation and social commitment. Among the public institutions in Denmark, primary and lower secondary schooling contributes the most to shaping individuals - it affects the children not just while they are in school, but also in their future lives. Accordingly, the organisation of the teaching is expected to have a major influence on the pupils’ academic abilities as well as their ability to engage in social relationships and their commitment to societal issues.

The project seeks to examine the hypothesis that pupil involvement in academic learning activities contributes to consolidating the pupils’ academic skills as well as their social commitment. The study is carried out as a randomised trial through which a class of pupils receive an intervention with the purpose of strengthening their involvement in the teaching activities. The trial involves 8th grade lower secondary school pupils in the school year 2014/15.

Project leader: Morten Jakobsen

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 Economics) and Simon Calmar Andersen (Department of Political Science)

Governance, Funding and Performance of Universities

The programme aims to examine the intended as well as unintended effects of the introduction of New Public Management tools in Danish universities. The focus will be the use of contracts and the introduction of the bibliometric indicator. The programme consists of four integrated projects with the respective subjects

1) the development of performance objectives for the universities,

2) the implementation of the University Act of 2003,

3) the implementation of the bibliometric indicator as well as

4) a number of case studies with a focus on mapping the mechanisms through which the NPM tools work (or do not work).

Project leader: Poul Erik Mouritzen

IMPUSE: 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:

LEAP - Leadership and performance

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:

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

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

Target group

A key issue within the social sciences is the distribution of goods - that is, who gets what, when and how. We know from other research that public employees’ behaviour and decisions have a tendency to preserve existing social inequalities and possibly discriminate, because they are affected by the individual citizen’s behaviour.

On the other hand, we do not know much about the citizens’ behaviour. How does Mrs Hansen behave compared to Mrs Jensen when they go out to secure a place for their child in a nursery or when they need knee surgery? Is there a difference? If so, what accounts for this difference?

The project aims to explain this by studying behaviour in various service and regulatory situations and by studying the behaviour of individuals and companies. The project identifies types of behavior and explains their variation. The project examines to what extent differences in policy preferences, resources and motivational intensity explains variation in the citizens’ and companies’ behavior. The project contributes to implementation research’s opportunities for understanding the final link in the implementation chain, namely the affected citizens.

The project is also a contribution to politicians’ and administrations’ opportunities for understanding their target group and thereby partly optimise their administration practices, and partly understand and decode the reasons for differences in behaviour. Knowledge about how and why citizens behave as they do qualifies the administrators’ ability to design a practice which it not at risk of producing social inequality. 

Project leader: Vibeke Lehmann Nielsen

The role of distributed leadership at hospitals

The aim of the project is to examine the role of distributed leadership during periods of major organizational restructuring. Here, by distributed leadership (DL) is meant interaction between the unit of leadership and employee involvement. The primary healthcare sector is currently undergoing major structural changes, and the project takes a starting point in the political decision to reorganize and centralize specific organizational units in order to increase efficiency and productivity. The empirical part of the project will be carried out as a longitudinal study in a new hospital unit in “Region Midtjylland” (Central Denmark Region), established through mergers of former regional hospitals. Based on the assumption that employees constitute an important potential friction in any organizational change affecting work design and processes, we will investigate the role and level of employee involvement, including how it is supported by the various forms of management styles employed, together with the importance of this for both managers’ and employees’ motivation and participation in the change and renewal process. The effective implementation of major change requires considerable support and attention to the effects of, for example, management practices, incentives and reward systems, routines and procedures. 

Principal investigators: Hans Jeppe Jeppesen (project coordinator)John P. Ulhøi and Thomas Pallesen

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 Economics) and Simon Calmar Andersen (Department of Political Science)

Comparative politics

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

CODE - Conflict and democratization

How can one promote democratisation without also increasing the risk of violent conflicts? The researchers behind CODE will work to find the answer to this question. 

Two of the most important objectives in Danish and Western foreign policy is to promote democratisation and prevent violent conflict. Earlier research has shown that democratisation processes tend to trigger conflict – sometimes even civil wars. But how should this dilemma be tackled? Is it possible to establish both peace and freedom at the same time? And how can Western governments and NGOs contribute to preventing or resolving conflict without setting aside the democratic ideals?

Project manager: Jørgen Møller

Project website:


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

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

Coordinating public health services for migrants in Québec

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

Political Institutions and the Historical Origins of Development: Unraveling the Connections

One influential explanation of the rise of the West highlights its distinctive political institutions -- variously described as "democracy," "property rights," "self-enforcing constitutions," or "rule of law." Despite the volume of work in this tradition, little is known empirically about which institutions mattered -- and for which economic and social outcomes they might have mattered -- during the takeoff period of growth in Northern Europe and North America. A central impediment is that the theories are not very specific and their core concepts are not well-measured through time. Accordingly, the institutional theory of development has proven difficult to test in a rigorous fashion. In order to submit this theory to systematic testing, we propose to collect disaggregated data based on an expert survey that will allow us to track an array of specific institutional characteristics from 1800 onwards with broad country coverage. Outcomes of interest include all measurable aspects of economic and human development including economic growth, infrastructure, education, and life expectancy. This application is intended to support the first tranche of our historical project, with a focus on Europe and the Americas during an era in which the contours of present-day global inequality first became manifest: the 19th century. The project is based at the department of political science, Lund University, and comprises a group of widely publicized international scholars.

Project managers: Svend-Erik Skaaning and Agnes Cornell

Political settlements and revenue bargains in Africa

Over the last decade, a number of countries in Africa have become less dependent on traditional aid as other sources of income have grown. At the same time, the policy priorities of these countries’ governments may be changing. Whereas poverty reduction and social service provision were highly prioritized around the turn of the millennium, focus is shifting towards infrastructure and industrial policy. Declining aid dependence and more country ownership over policy are clearly desirable. However, we know little about how the changes in the composition of revenue providers affect bargaining over revenue and ultimately, public policy. Revenue bargaining processes are inherently political. They are affected by the countries’ political settlements and electoral pressures. This proposed research builds research capacity through exploring how formal and informal revenue bargains affect public policies. As a joint team of legal experts, political scientists, sociologists and economists, we provide policy-relevant understanding of the political economy of tax and revenue bargaining in least developed countries, and Uganda and Tanzania specifically. Our main hypothesis is that changes in the relative power of revenue providers will lead to a change in the policy priorities of national governments. We explore this by combining a macro-historical comparative study of Uganda and Tanzania over time with a micro-level study of the politics of specific instances of revenue bargaining.

Project leader: Anne Mette Kjær


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

UNIWEL - Universalism and the Welfare State

UNIWEL is an acronym for Universalism and the Welfare State in Scandinavia. The project is devoted to the profound changes that take place in universal welfare states as well as their underlying causes. Historically, high middle class support for the welfare state and a tight bond between the middle class and the working class constituted the foundation for encompassing (tax-financed) universal programs and services, which, in turn, lead to comparatively low levels of inequality and poverty. More recently, however, programs aimed particularly at the poor and disadvantaged (including immigrants) have been cut, while programs enjoyed by the middle class have been expanded.

Principal Investigator: Kees van Kersbergen

Welfare State Cutbacks

The welfare state is very popular with many voters. Nevertheless, politicians often make cutbacks – even without being punished by the voters afterwards. This project aims to investigate when and under what circumstances politicians are punished by voters for making welfare cutbacks. The project involves collecting a very extensive data sat consisting of the strategies that politicians can employ in connection with welfare cutbacks. The data set covers the period from 1985 in six western democracies, and it is the first study ever to enable a systematic analysis of what makes voters react negatively to welfare cutbacks. Moreover, the project also involves conducting a series of opinion surveys in three countries, which will yield further information about how voters are influenced by the politicians’ strategies. 

Project leader: Carsten Jensen

Political behaviour and institutions

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: 

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):


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.

Read more

Project manager: Christoph Arndt

PERSOS - 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

Project website

POLIS - Political Parties and Issue Strategies

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:

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 neighbourhoods 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 neighbours’ 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 neighbourhoods, ghettoisation and affluent enclaves.

Project description

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


RepStyle investigates the personalization of representation by asking three fundamental questions:
1) Have politicians’ perception of their representative tasks changed, so that they think less of themselves as party agents but more as individual representatives?

2) Have politicians changed their representative behaviour so that they increasingly promote their own policy and themselves rather than the party?

3) Which factors may explain variation in personalized representation across countries, parties and individual politicians?  

Head of project: Helene Helboe Pedersen

Project website:

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 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

Threatening Collective Events and Mental Health

As recently evidenced by the Breivik killings in Norway and events in the Middle East, terrorism and civil conflict near and far are – perhaps more than ever – threats to human welfare in modern societies. Understanding how such incidents, which we label “threatening collective events”, influence human welfare and how the negative consequences can potentially be curbed remain key topics for the fields of social science and public health. The purpose of this project is to examine if, and subsequently, when and how, such threatening events in other countries influence individuals’ mental health in Denmark.

Project leader: Kim Mannemar Sønderskov

What makes partisans think again?

Causal Frames and Partisan Motivated Reasoning

The project examines how citizens think about politics. Many studies show that citizens are often biased. This means that they often ignore evidence that goes against the position advocated by their favorite political party. This is problematic because it means that many citizens form opinions that are not based on the best evidence available. This project investigates the conditions where citizens reason in an open-minded way. It focuses on the role played by beliefs about the motives of political elites in this process. It argues that uncertainty about elite motives leads citizens to think more carefully about policy proposals and to consider evidence in a more even handed way. The project would explore this proposition via survey experiments conducted both in Denmark and the United States.  

Project leader: Joshua Robison

When and How Political Parties Influence Public Opinion Formation

I et folkestyre er det afgørende at forstå, hvordan borgerne danner deres politiske holdninger, fordi de er grundlaget for demokratisk repræsentation. Vi ved, at en af de vigtigste påvirkninger af borgernes holdninger er de politiske partiers standpunkter – folk er tilbøjelige til at støtte politiske forslag fra deres eget parti og afvise forslag fra modstående partier. Vi ved imidlertid meget lidt om, hvordan denne påvirkning foregår, og hvornår partierne har stor og lille indflydelse på borgernes holdninger. Projektet udvikler en ny teoretisk model, som forklarer, hvornår borgerne bruger de politiske partiers standpunkter på hvilken måde til at danne deres politiske holdninger. Modellen inddrager både individers motivation og den politiske kontekst, fordi både motivation og kontekst – og deres indbyrdes samspil – er nødvendige for at forstå, under hvilke betingelser partierne påvirker borgernes holdninger. Modellen testes i en række survey-eksperimenter i Danmark og USA. Projektet bidrager til en langt bedre forståelse af samspillet mellem borgere og politikere i vores folkestyre. Projektet er støttet af en “Sapere Aude: DFF-Forskningsleder”-bevilling fra Det Frie Forskningsråd.

Projektleder: Rune Slothuus

Political theory

Practice makes imperfect

When and how should current social and political practices influence ideals about global justice?

The project aims to develop a theoretical framework for analysing and evaluating how theorists in the debate about global justice incorporate practices such as national borders and international institutions in their normative theories. The degree to which you incorporate current practices is of great importance to which conclusions you might reach, just as it affects a theory’s immediate political relevance to a significant degree. Nevertheless, the connection between the practice-dependency of the theories and their normative conclusions has only been analysed and evaluated on a relatively general level.

This project seeks to clarify this context and shed light on what is at stake in the debate and the degree to which inconsistencies are due to normative judgments or methodical choices. This will only shed further light on the debate about global justice in general, and more specifically on questions pertaining to how much aid we owe the world’s poor, the appropriate role of international institutions and the principles on which global trade should be based.

Project leader: David Vestergaard Axelsen

Scarcity of Organs

All over the world we face an acute shortage of organs. People die every day while waiting for an organ transplantation. This project takes up proposals aimed at eliminating the shortage through increasing the supply of organs. One prominent proposal is the opt-out model, where we are all considered donors by default. A second proposal is to eliminate or diminish the existing family veto, which accounts for many organs not being utilised. The third proposal is that we introduce a market in organs, seeking to increase incentives for donation.

For all three proposals, it is the case that we cannot only discuss efficiency questions; normative considerations must be taken into account as well.

Project manager: Andreas Albertsen

Sufficiency and capability

This project is a study of the political philosophical principle of sufficiency – that the requirements of distributive justice are fulfilled when everyone has enough. So far this doctrine has only been fully developed and defended from the viewpoint of either resourcism, arguing that the requirements of justice are fulfilled when everyone possess a sufficient amount of resources, or from the viewpoint of welfarism, arguing that justice requires that everyone is sufficiently well off in terms of welfare. Despite the fact that existing attempts to defend the doctrine of sufficiency have strengthened the position as an alternative to other distributive theories such as egalitarianism or prioritarianism, the doctrine still face serious problems: (i) threshold-fetishism; (ii) ignorance of inequalities above the threshold; (iii) theoretical groundlessness. This project argues that by restating the doctrine of sufficiency within the framework of the capability approach as opposed to resourcism and welfarism, the doctrine of sufficiency can be provided the necessary theoretical ground and therefore be further strengthened and bolstered to cope with the objections with which it is faced. The project therefore asks the following three research questions:

(I) How should sufficiency be understood if build upon key elements of capability theory?

(II) Why is capability-sufficiency more theoretical plausible than alternative versions?

(III) Why is capability-sufficiency a better distributive ideal than equality and priority?

Project leader: Lasse Nielsen


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:

Discretionary Practices and Citzen Encounters in Denmark and USA

Welfare policies are concerned with improving human conditions, but no policy will make an impact on its own: it must be implemented and transformed into concrete practice (Lipsky 1980/2010). This is the job of frontline workers (FLW), giving such workers great discretionary powers. Understanding implementation, frontline discretion and citizen encounters is thus crucial for understanding the impact of welfare policies and the impact of FLWs on distribution of resources and sanctions among citizens. Since Lipsky’s seminal work, scholars have discussed, whether mechanisms of frontline work can be seen as generic, or if national and cultural contexts matters. Unfortunately, research is dominated by single case studies, not capable of addressing such a question (Meyers & Nielsen 2012, Brodkin 2012, Maynard-Moody and Portillo 2012, Jewell 2007). Following this gap, the current comparative project explores if and how frontline discretion in citizen encounters is shaped by national/cultural contexts and/or by generic mechanisms. 

Project leader: Gitte Sommer Harrits


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

PRIME - Preventing, Interdicting and Mitigating Extremism

Lone Actor Extremist Events (LOEEs) are terrorist attacks carried out by individuals acting alone, which can be highly damaging to local and national communities. Because they have the potential to inflict considerable human, social and political harm, LOEEs have been a growing source of concern, notably in the Western world. LOEEs remain relatively rare occurrences, which is a good thing. Yet that very rarity is also what makes these terrorist events hard to detect, disrupt, and recover from.

The EU-funded PRIME Project aims to improve our understanding of lone actor terrorism and to inform the design of social and physical counter-measures for the prevention of lone-actor radicalisation, the disruption of lone-actor terrorist plots, and the mitigation of terrorist attacks carried out by lone extremists.

In this endeavour, PRIME adopts an innovative multidisciplinary approach, which combines formal modelling techniques drawn from security engineering with expertise from the ecological, social, behavioural and criminological sciences. The end-product will be a decision-support tool for end-users whose remit is to deal with the lone actor terrorism threat at the local, national or international level.

Project leader: Lasse Lindekilde

Project website:

RUCIA: Research Unit on Citizenship and Integration at Aarhus University

How should immigrants and their descendants be met by receiving countries – in immigration programs, citizenship rules and other policies – for inclusion and integration to work? How do they become civic citizens – and what does that actually mean? Do less concrete factors like national identity, political culture and the way we talk about immigration and citizenship influence integration outcomes?  Why are there such different approaches to integration and citizenship in Western countries, and even between the Scandinavian countries?

The RUCIA (Research Unit on Citizen and Integration at Aarhus University) investigates immigrants and descendants’ integration and citizenship.


Project participants: Per Mouritsen, Simon Calmar Andersen, Tore Vincents Olsen, Emily Cochran Bech, Kristian Jensen and Kristina Bakkær Simonsen




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