PETGOV brings together political scientists whose research agendas are rooted in the fields of political economy, public policy and/or international relations, while drawing on diverse theoretical and methodological traditions. What binds us together is an abiding interest in addressing some of the biggest political problems of our time - finding a path to more equitable, democratic and peaceful relations within and between polities by describing, explaining and evaluating these transnational transformations of political economy and governance.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform society in both good ways and bad. That makes its effective regulation a paramount challenge of our time.
The RegulAite project investigates such regulation in the European Union, focussing on the global political and economic force field in which it unfolds. As a domain of innovation, AI spans the globe. Meanwhile, these technologies are dominated by the United States and China, at a time when geopolitical tensions are rising. RegulAite studies how the EU can navigate the global AI landscape such that its rules are effective and aligned with public objectives.
RegulAite is financed through a Vici grant of the Dutch Research Council (NWO).
Election Violence: Domestic and International Determinants of Election Violence
This project, funded through a Marie Curie Career Integration Grant, conceptualizes election violence as a sub-type of political violence in which actors employ coercion to affect the electoral process or that arises in the context of electoral competition.
Recent elections in Afghanistan, Kenya, the Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Pakistan experienced substantial violence, yet the causes and consequences of election violence remain poorly understood.
A major difficulty in analyzing its causes and consequences is that no comprehensive data source on the incidence of election-related violence exists.
To alleviate this problem, the proposed research project will collect data on election violence for all countries with competitive elections for the 1990-2010 period.
Once complete, the data will publicly available.
Develop theoretical arguments
A second objective of the project is to develop theoretical arguments on the domestic and international determinants of election violence. Drawing on existing case study research, the argument posits that the competitiveness and quality of elections affect the likelihood of electoral violence.
With regard to the international determinants of election violence, the proposal hypothesizes that the presence of international organizations supervising the electoral process can induce shifts in the use of violent intimidation, thus increasing the probability of violent intimidation in the pre-election period.
Evaluate the theoretical expectations
The final objective is to systematically evaluate the theoretical expectations using data collected by the project.
- Funded by: Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (CIG)
- Period: 1-2-2014 till 31-1-2018
The boundaries of solidarity: multi-level governance and redistribution
This NWO VENI funded project seeks to understand people's readiness to redistribute locally, nationally, or supranationally.
The increasing complexity and heterogeneity of contemporary societies represent a major challenge to European nation-states. Their boundaries of social rights, political participation and ethnic belonging used to be highly congruent. In the past few decades, however, globalization, European integration and mass immigration have eroded this congruence.
In the wake of these transformations, policy makers focusing on redistribution are facing a dilemma. In view of increased international interdependence, the call for supranational redistribution has become more vocal. At the same time, claims for more fiscal independence at the subnational level have become more frequent. In short, recent transformations of the state have unsettled our understanding of where taxes are paid, how they are spent, and who ultimately benefits from them.
Therefore, this project analyses how collective identities, generalized trust, national frames and decentralization influence preferences for redistribution at the local, national and European level.
Laboratory experiments will be conducted using nested public goods provision games, dictator games, and benevolent dictator games. The experiments will assess if and to what extent people prefer to redistribute previously made earnings at the local rather than the national or the European level, and how the amount of redistributed money changes if they are forced to redistribute at a certain level.
Experiments will be conducted in Spain and the Netherlands. By doing so, this project builds on and complements earlier research carried out by the author in Germany and the United Kingdom. By adding two new cases, the project seeks to understand whether redistributional behaviour is dependent on contextual factors, such as decentralization and the sovereign debt crisis. To guarantee high external validity, experiments will be triangulated with opinion surveys among the British, Dutch, German, and Spanish population.
- Funded by: NWO VENI
- Duration: 05/02/2014 until 04/02/2017
Why we measure our economies the way we do: the political economy of macroeconomic measurement
Macroeconomic indicators stand central in economic governance and its political contestation. Measurements of growth, unemployment, inflation and public deficits tell us “how economies are doing”. Yet, in contrast to their air of objectivity, it is everything but self-evident how these indicators should be defined and measured.
Our measurement choices have deeply distributional consequences: they produce winners and losers. They shape our future, for example when GDP figures hide the cost of environmental degradation. So why do we measure our economies in the way we do?
Criticism of particular measures is not new. But its limited effect on policy reveals that such criticism does not explain real-world practice. This project therefore asks: which social, political and economic factors shape the formulas underlying macroeconomic indicators? Existing scholarship provides detailed historical studies of statistics, mostly in single countries. But we lack theoretical and empirical tools to describe and explain differences in measurement formulas between countries and over time.
This project will provide such understanding through three subprojects. The first offers a systematic diachronic comparison of formulas underlying four indicators in four central OECD countries. The second subproject analyses the timing and content of international statistical harmonization efforts in the EU and the OECD. The third one builds on the other two and constructs a new database of “measures of measures” to quantitatively test hypotheses emerging from the qualitative subprojects across the OECD.
Beyond providing novel insights and a new database, this project will promote public debate about meaningful measures, allow policymakers to reflect on current practices, and increase sensitivity among academics who use macroeconomic data about its political and historical roots.
- Funding: NWO Vidi
Policy influencing, Lobby and Advocacy: Case Studies
IOB, the Policy and Operations Evaluation Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands, conducts an evaluation of Policy Influencing, Lobby and Advocacy (PILA) that centers around the aim to gain a better understanding of how the ministry may best support Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in developing countries. As part of the IOB evaluation, three PILA campaigns in relation to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) will be examined.
The case studies are developed around the following three guiding questions:
- How can the socio-economic/political environment regarding CSR in which policy influencing, lobbying and advocacy take place be characterized?
- How can actors engaged in policy influencing, lobbying and advocacy in the field of CSR be characterized?
- What is the practice of policy influencing, lobbying and advocacy in the field of CSR?
The analysis of the three case studies will offer insight into the leading questions in this research: “What evidence is there for the effectiveness of PILA strategies/programs in influencing policy in the public and private sector that is supportive of poverty reduction, justice and sustainable inclusive development? What factors explain levels of effectiveness?”.
For the purpose of these case studies, a combination of research methods will be used. These consist of a literature study, a policy document analysis and semi-structured interviews with different stakeholders relevant to the specific cases and the theme of PILA strategies for CSR in the Dutch policy framework at large.
The research concerns strategies and/or programs that may be implemented by single organizations or collaborative associations (coalitions, networks) that may include organizations from the global South and North. The associated PILA targets may be based in developing countries, in the Netherlands or abroad (international organizations, multinational companies). The findings of the case studies will contribute to insights about effectiveness and explanatory factors of PILA campaigns/programs.
As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has had no overarching policy document on PILA during the evaluation period 2008-2014, the cases will offer a first thorough insight and offer ground for recommendations in the field of PILA support for CSR. The case studies will eventually be complemented by findings from other research activities, which will contribute to a more comprehensive answer for the overall guiding question.
Fickle Formulas: The Political Economy of Macroeconomic Measurement
Macroeconomic indicators are integral to economic governance. Measurements of growth, unemployment, inflation and public deficits inform policy, for example through growth targets and the inflation-indexation of wages. These indicators tell us “how economies are doing” and citizens often punish politicians who fail to deliver on them.
Their air of objectivity notwithstanding, it is far from self-evident how these indicators should be defined and measured. Our choices here have deeply distributional consequences, producing winners and losers, and will shape our future, for example when GDP figures hide the cost of environmental degradation. So why do we measure our economies the way we do?
Criticisms of particular measures are hardly new but their real-world effect has been limited. The project therefore asks: which social, political and economic factors shape the formulas used to calculate macroeconomic indicators? Extant research offers detailed histories of statistics, mostly in single countries. But we lack theoretical and empirical tools to describe and explain differences in measurement formulas between countries and over time.
FICKLEFORMS will provide such understanding through five sub-projects. The first systematically compares the evolution of four indicators in four central OECD countries: the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Germany. The second analyses the timing and content of statistical harmonization efforts through the United Nations, the IMF and the World Bank. The third constructs a new database of “measures of measures” to quantitatively test hypotheses emerging from the previous sub-projects. The final two sub-projects reach beyond the OECD and study the politics of macroeconomic measurement in China, India, Brazil and South Africa.
This project will promote public debate over meaningful measures, allow policy-makers to reflect on current practices, and sensitize academics who use macroeconomic data about their political roots.
CORPNET-Corporate Network Governance: Power, Ownership and Control in Contemporary Global Capitalism
The character of global business networks has long fascinated but continues to divide scholars of global markets and governance. A well-established perspective looks at the changes in global networks and sees an emerging cohesive transnational capitalist class. However, a rival line of inquiry sees the rise of competing corporate elites.
Scholars also disagree on the origins of emergent patterns of corporate networks. Do they reflect institutional preferences of corporate and political elites? Or are they unintended byproducts of corporate conduct? Third, there are fundamental differences of opinion on how patterns of global corporate ownership relate to actual power in the governance of such networks.
The global network of corporate ownership
Past research has been unable to adjudicate these debates in part due to insufficient data clarifying the full breadth of corporate interactions globally, and insufficient analytical tools for analysing that breadth. This project seeks to do what has so far eluded existing scholarship: to fully explore the global network of corporate ownership and control as a complex system. Network structures may appear to be the result of a grand design at macro level, but are the outcome of the sum of the actions of a large set of interdependent actors.
Using cutting-edge network science methods, the project explores for the first time the largest database on ownership and control covering over 100 million firms. Exploiting the longitudinal richness of the new data in combination with state-of-the-art methods and techniques makes it possible to model and empirically test generating mechanisms that drive network formation. By doing so the project bridges the hitherto disjoint fields of social network studies in socio-economics and political science on the one hand, and the growing body of literature on network science in physics, computer science and complexity studies on the other.
- Funding: ERC StG
- Period: 5 years
Solving dilemmas in sustainable development and civil society in Bangladesh and Zambia
An international consortium coordinated by the University of Amsterdam will investigate the effect of legal and extra-legal measures on the civil society sector in Bangladesh and Zambia under the NWO-WOTRO programme.
NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development programmes, funds and monitors innovative research on global issues. NWO-WOTRO research projects are realised by interdisciplinary teams of researchers from the North and South and in close collaboration with non-academic stakeholders. These partnerships should strengthen the bridge between research, policy and practice. “The research we are going to do may serve as a source of inspiration for evaluating existing government policies and reconsideration of existing strategies for political advocacy” comments Luc Fransen, associate professor of International Relations and consortium leader.
The consortium will carry out a comparative study of civil society organisations in Bangladesh and Zambia. It will also produce blogs, research reports and policy recommendations.
Forced Migration and Resettlement during Civil Wars
Minerva Research Initiative, US Department of Defense. “Forced Migration and Resettlement during Civil Wars,” will run 2018-2021.
With James Igoe Walsh (PI), Paul Huth, Jacob Aronson, Jonathan Hall, and Jean-Claude Thill. “Displace, Return, and Reconstruct: Population Movement and Resilience to Instability.” $1.5M.
Monitoring Attitudes, Perceptions and Support for the Peace Process in Colombia (MAPS)
Monitoring Attitudes, Perceptions and Support for the Peace Process in Colombia (MAPS)
Funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway for $1M
"Monitoring Attitudes, Perceptions and Support for the Peace Process in Colombia (MAPS)"
Joint to UNDP/PRIO to conduct surveys in Colombia.
The project will run 2019-2020.
Elections, Violence, and Parties
Elections are nearly ubiquitous in the world today. Yet despite their aim to peacefully transfer power, elections in the developing world are often accompanied by substantial violence. For instance, more than a hundred people died during elections held earlier this year in Nigeria. Daxecker will develop a novel, party-centered theory that explains the nature, organisation and consequences of election violence. Political parties are crucial actors linking politicians and citizens, and Daxecker attributes a central role to parties’ organisational and social links. She will examine her theory subnationally in India and Nigeria, two of the world’s largest emerging democracies. The project uses a multi-method approach to examine within-country variation in party institutions, social support and election violence in India and Nigeria, combining fieldwork interviews, quantitative data, survey experiments and surveys.
ERC Starting Grant
Social resilience, gendered dynamics, and local peace in protracted conflicts
Jana Krause focuses in her project on how civilians protect themselves in armed conflicts and build peace locally. She will analyse how communities ‘resilient’ to conflict dynamics can remain resilient despite protracted and multi-layered conflict cycles and how they can contribute to a sustainable peace.
The need for a greater analytical focus on the causes and consequences of civilian agency and social resilience is evident in the modest international peacebuilding and civilian protection record. Krause pursues an empirically grounded research agenda on social resilience. She will comparatively analyse resilience building and barriers to peace in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Kenya and Nigeria.
The project uses a fieldwork-based multi-method research design that combines quantitative techniques for assessing the consequences of international peacebuilding efforts with regard to local peace and women’s empowerment with context-sensitive qualitative analysis of the often-unintended consequences of social resilience and hidden barriers to changing gender relations and peace.