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Research projects

Our staff are involved in innovative research projects on sustainable conflict resolution and sustainable democracy, both individually and in collaborative teams. Many projects are funded by prestigious research grants.

Ongoing research projects are:

Combating overfishing: Cooperation between states and NGOs – Jutta Joachim (NRC)

What happens when NGOs change their strategy from one of opposition to one of state cooperation? Together with an international team of researchers, Associate Professor of Global Security Governance Dr. Jutta Joachim is investigating the changing role of NGOs as part of the N-Safe project. The group recently received funding from the Norwegian Research Council.

Commander Politics: Cooperation and Competition in Civil War – Romain Malejacq (VIDI)

Most contemporary civil wars are fought in so-called 'weak states’, such as Somalia and Afghanistan. In these wars, where multiple armed groups operate simultaneously, local commanders ‘flip’ from rebel to government side (and vice versa) and constantly form and break alliances. This project aims to understand why they do so. Dr. Romain Malejacq, Assistant Professor of International Relations and Conflict-studies, has been awarded a VIDI grant by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Vive la Commune! Communalism as a Democratic Repertoire – Gaard Kets (GHS)

This interdisciplinary research project seeks to approach ‘democracy’ as the subject of conflict and contestation. In light of this objective, the project aims to show how ‘The Commune’ has been the subject of political conflict and debate throughout the past 150 years. Indeed, ‘The Commune’ may be regarded as the key signifier of a broad and long-standing democratic repertoire in its own right – a repertoire that is sometimes referred to as ‘communalism’. The project is a collaboration between political theorists, philosophers, and historians (Dr. Gaard Kets, Dr. Mathijs van de Sande, Dr. Laura Roth, Prof. Dr. Evert van de Zweerde, Prof. Dr. Carolien van Ham, and Associate Prof. Dr. Ramon Feenstra). It consists of three interrelated post-doctoral research projects, as well as inter-university collaboration with the Universitat Jaume I, Spain. The project is funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation.

REDRESS: Revitalized democracy for resilient societies - Jacobs, van Ham (NWO/NWA)

The research project REDRESS (‘Revitalized Democracy for Resilient Societies’) focuses on ‘hybrid democratic innovations’ in which forms of deliberation (such as citizens’ assemblies) and voting (such as corrective referendums) are combined. How can such ‘hybrid democratic innovations’ strengthen representative democracy? The project is funded by the Dutch National Science Foundations’ National Science Agenda (NWA), and involves researchers at four different universities (Tilburg University, Utrecht University, Radboud University, University of Twente) and the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP), as well as numerous policy and social partners in the field of democratic innovation.

Democratic innovations and populism: For better or worse? – Jacobs (VIDI)

Populism is on the rise, and populist citizens are angry. They feel politicians do not listen to them. This project investigates if and how democratic innovations (e.g. citizen-initiated referendums, citizens’ assemblies and participatory budgeting), can help to address this. It examines actual democratic innovations and investigates whether populist citizens participate and what effect it has on them. So far it seems populists are as likely to participate as non-populists, but they tend to be more skeptical of the impact the innovation will have. Dr. Kristof Jacobs, Associate Professor of Comparative Politics, has been awarded a VIDI grant of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to support this research.

‘Credible’ or ‘Capricious’? The Reputational Cost of Party Policy Change Meijers (VENI)

This research project investigates the reputational costs of changing policy preferences for political parties. On the one hand, it could be argued that changing party policy, is a sign of a party being open to new insights and adapting to the political context. On the other hand, a change of position can point to opportunistic and strategic behaviour by the party. Under which circumstances do voters accept changing party positions as being credible and when do they regard them as opportunistic? Dr. Maurits Meijers, Assistant Professor of Comparative Politics, has been awarded a VENI grant of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), to support this research.

The power of inaction and ambivalence in transnational refugee governance: EU-actors and the contested return of Syrian refugees from Lebanon and Turkey– Nora Stel (VENI)

Lebanon and Turkey increasingly pressure the Syrian refugees they host to return to their country of origin. But human rights organizations indicate that returnees risk torture and death in Syria. Current returns therefore often defy international refugee law. This project investigates how such contested return dynamics are influenced by EU-actors’ positioning. Specifically, by studying what EU-actors do not say or do in the face of contested refugee returns in Lebanon and Turkey, it develops a fundamentally new perspective on transnational refugee governance that foregrounds inaction and ambivalence as exercises of power.

From common ground to battleground? Public perceptions of bias in impartial institutions– Erika van Elsas (VENI)

Supposedly impartial institutions – such as courts, the police, and universities – are often accused of bias. But to what extent do citizens perceive these institutions as biased, and where do such bias perceptions come from? This project answers these questions by combining content analysis, original survey data and experiments.

A double edged-sword: educational career orientation in the Political Science Bachelor programme Alons (NRO Comenius)

This project integrated educational career orientation in the Political Science Bachelor programme, achieving two goals simultaneously: exchange and connections between students and the educational work domain to facilitate career reflection, and professionalization of teachers in secondary education. Working together in educational research labs - an elective course for students and a professionalization course for teachers - students and teachers co-produced lesson-plans combining up-to-date insights from political science research with state-of-the-art didactical approaches. Dr. Gerry Alons-van der Kamp, Assistant Professor of International Relations, has been awarded a Comenius Teaching Fellowship grant (NRO) to support this project.

Organizing for Development: Introducing the Donor Governance Dataset (DGD) - Bernhard Reinsberg & Haley Swedlund (Glasgow-Radboud Collaboration Fund)

How does donor governance affect aid allocation and effectiveness? The Donor Governance Dataset systematically tracks the organizational structures, procedures, and practices of 32 donors and their 41 aid agencies. The dataset measures both governance features (structures, rules, procedures, and practices through which aid administrations devise, deliver, and monitor aid policy decisions) and donor transparency (breadth, depth, accuracy, timeliness, and accessibility of donor governance information to the public). The DGD was produced in collaboration with 10 MA student interns from the University of Glasgow and Radboud University.

International Responses to Unconstitutional Regime Change - Nada Afa, Haley Swedlund, and Bertjan Verbeek (IMR)

What determines how international actors respond to unconstitutional regime change? How do foreign diplomats influence responses to coups and mass uprisings? In this project, we explore how and why states and multilateral organizations responded to unconstitutional regime change in Mali and Tunisia, drawing on in-depth fieldwork in both Bamako and Tunis.

Moral Injury - (Molendijk; Verkoren) (NWO/NWA)

This research project into the moral injury experienced by (ex-)military and police combines insights from organization sciences, political science and sociology. It is a collaborative effort of the department’s Center for Conflict Analysis and Management, the Netherlands Defense Academy, the Netherlands Police Academy, the Netherlands Veterans Institute and the Center of Excellence on War, Persecution and Violence of the ARQ National Psychotrauma Center. It is funded by a grant of NWO/NWA.

Increase in Demand for Transgender Care (Van der Vleuten) (ZonMw) (2022)

This research project seeks to understand and explain the increase in demand for transgender care and the changes in the nature of such care. The interdisciplinary project is carried out by Radboud University’s and Radboud University Medical Center’s Platform on Diversity in Sex and Gender and is funded by a grant of ZonMw.

SecTenSusPeace: Localizing Land-Registration in Conflict-Affected areas (M. van Leeuwen) (NORFACE) (2018-2021)

Through local fieldwork in pilots on new approaches to registration in Burundi and eastern DR Congo, the project aims to contribute to a better understanding of the challenges of local land registration and the recognition of claims in conflict-affected settings. Through knowledge-sharing with practitioners, it generates instruments that help interveners better map potential outcomes. The project was funded by a grant from NORFACE and the Belmont Forum.

Economic inequality and interest representation of employers (Lehr)

Wages are an important factor in determining economic inequality. The project ‘European, National and Transnational Industrial Relations: Visible and Invisible Hands in European and National Wage Setting (ENTIRE VIEW)’ contributes to the analysis of both formal as well as informal mechanism for wage developments within and across EU member states (see https://entireviewproject.wordpress.com). Another project in this research theme is the project ‘Divided we fall? Drivers and barriers of employer representation’. The collective interest representation of employers is increasingly challenged by conflicts of interest and the dominance of big business. This project analyses how these conflicts of interest can be explained and what their consequences are for the political representation of employers by employers’ organizations.

Populism and Political Parties: Citizen attitudes and Party positions (Zaslove, Meijers, Jacobs)

This research project develops innovative measures to collect data on populist party positions, as well as populist attitudes among citizens. The 2018 Populism and Political Parties Expert Survey (POPPA) dataset measures positions and attitudes of 250 parties on key attributes related to populism, political style, party ideology, and party organization in 28 European countries. The principal motivation for the expert survey is to provide a better understanding of key party characteristics related to populism and political representation. POPPA aims to measure the relevant constitutive dimensions underlying dominant conceptualizations of populism for all political parties in each party system. In addition, the development of the Akkerman, Mudde, Zaslove populism scale, allows researchers to directly measure the degree to which individuals are more or less populist. Researchers at Comparative Politics, building on these insights, focus on the relationship between populist individuals and democracy, democratic reform, and policy dimensions such as climate change.