PhD defense Nora Dörrenbächer:“Europe at the frontline of Migration Law: Legal discretion, bureaucratic context and individual attitudes”

Date of news: 17 April 2018

europe_at_the_frontline_cover_1On Wednesday 11 April, Nora Dörrenbächer successfully defended her dissertation “Europe at the frontline of Migration Law: Legal discretion, bureaucratic context and individual attitudes”. She obtained her PhD cum laude.

Dörrenbächer’s dissertation deals with a largely unexplored aspect in migration law: the use and support of EU law by street-level bureaucrats in the everyday practices and decisions on the visa or residence permits of individual migrants. The research focuses on the Netherlands and Germany, using both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The dissertation develops and tests a multidisciplinary theoretical framework, using insights from political science, legal studies, public administration, and social psychology.

The dissertation comes to the following conclusion: if the law is ambiguous, it appears that EU law will support the migration caseworkers in clarifying the situation to various degrees. Discretion and individuals’ personal motivations are two reasons for the variation in leaning on EU law.

The dissertation makes three key contributions:

1) It extends EU research to lower-level bureaucrats at the so-called frontline;

2) It provides an innovative multilevel theoretical framework that accounts for national context, bureaucratic discretion and individual attitudes;

3) It presents fresh cross-country empirical data on bureaucratic attitudes in the topical field of migration.

Nora Dörrenbächer started her PhD in 2013 at the Department of Economics at Radboud University. She was supervised by Prof. dr. Eelke de Jong (economics), Prof. dr. Ellen Mastenbroek (public administration), Dr. Tineke Strik (migration law) and Dr. Martin van der Velde (human geography). Before starting her PhD, she obtained a Master’s degree in International and European law from the University of Aberdeen (2011; with distinction) and a Master’s degree in Political Science and public administration research at Leiden University (2013; cum laude). In 2016, she received the Christine Mohrmann grant for promising female PhD students. She published on her research in a large number of renowned international journals in the field, such as the Journal of Common Market Studies, Journal of European Public Policy, and Regulation and Governance. Currently, she works as a Research Associate for the German Data Forum in Berlin.