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Research Areas


The Laboratory for the Analysis of Governance and Public Policy in Europe (LAGAPE) consists of a group of renowned scholars, who study current issues of public policies and public administration under the perspective of multi-level governance and in a comparative context. Five main axes of interest can be discerned:

Multi-level governance

The first axe focuses on the reorganization of decision-making systems related to so-called “denationalization” phenomena: changes in the scale of policies and modes of governance (metropolization, border collaborations, Europeanization) on the one hand and the dynamics linked to the territorialization of interests and mobilizations on the other hand. Public policies are analyzed at different levels: from local to global. We are interested both in urban policy and federalism, European integration as well as in the consequences of globalization and Europeanization for national public policies. The comparison of different territorial levels and the interaction between them are of increasing importance for the understanding of contemporary public policies and the resulting challenges for democracy. More in particular, we deal with the impact of informal proceedings and of technocratic aspects in relation to democratic control, which seem to become increasingly a by-product of the emergence of forms of multi-level governance, and more generally, of transformations of policy regulation modes.

Economic policies and market regulation

In Switzerland as well as elsewhere the economic policies and the organization of the economy have undergone some unexpected transformations since the 1990s. After a wave of liberalization, we are today in a phase of regulation and re-regulation. New institutions, so-called independent agencies, have been created. However, many questions remain unanswered, for instance questions clarifying the position and role of these bodies situated in between the market and the administration as well as questions regarding their modes of functioning. In this second axe the research group therefore applies perspectives in the tradition of comparative political economy, especially for the analysis of transformations of policies and modes of regulation (labour market, competition, liberalized sectors, corporate governance, industrial relations), driven particularly by Europeanization and trans-nationalization. Particular interest is given to diffusion phenomena (and their limitations), and to the changing forms of the interpenetration between the economic and political sphere.

The transformations of the Swiss political system

The stability of the Swiss political system, with its characteristics of direct democracy, neutrality and the so-called “militia” system, has been questioned by several recent developments, e.g. by globalization, Europeanization, the transformation of party systems, the increasing role of scientific expertise in public policy, the professionalization of elites, and the changing interactions between economic, political and administrative elites. A comparative analysis of these transformations, which need further investigation, and of their consequences for the whole political system constitutes another axe of LAGAPE.

Public administration and decision-making elites

Public, municipal, cantonal and federal administrations are constantly facing reforms, most notably today engendered by the introduction of new public management. These “managerial” reforms have both human and organizational consequences, since they influence the way political administrations have to deliver their services and organize themselves internally in order to fulfil their missions. Through this fourth axe the research group aims to “revive” the study of public administration in Switzerland. The focus is on different segments and levels (e.g. the trajectories of high-ranking civil servants, profiles of experts, the staff of the new independent agencies, interactions at the counter), on the role of the bureaucracy in decision-making, as well as on the impact of the “managerial” reforms on the values and motivations of administrators (including international organizations). LAGAPE employs also research activities with the aim to better know and understand the evolution of the sociological profile of administrative elites and their relations to the political world.

Public policies of specific sectors

The laboratory is also a center of competence in the comparative analysis of the governance of sectoral policies, particularly in the areas of health, taxation, housing, agriculture, as well as research and higher education policies, with a strong focus on federal systems.


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