Research themes

Research carried out within the LAGAPE covers the following themes:
Multilevel governance

The policy studies carried out within the centre are particularly sensitive to the reorganisation of decision-making power, in relation to the ‘denationalisation’ of governance. Public policies are analysed at different levels, ranging from the local to the global. For example, research in the LAGAPE deals with subjects such as urban governance, federal systems, European integration and the impact of globalisation and Europeanisation on national policy. Comparative studies across different levels of government and the scrutiny of their interactions, such as in the case of metropolises and cross-border cooperation, are becoming increasingly necessary to capture contemporary policy-making.

Market and risk regulation

Around the world, public utilities and economic policies have been profoundly transformed since the 1990s. After a wave of liberalisation, we are now in a phase of regulation – or re-regulation. Independent agencies, a new kind of institution, have emerged and spread worldwide, triggering a number of questions about their autonomy from political power and from those they are supposed to regulate. The LAGAPE engages with these questions, with a particular interest in the regulation of public services and of social and environmental risks. This research is carried out from a comparative perspective, covering the European and transnational dimensions, and including developing countries.

Transformation in the Swiss political system

The stability of the Swiss political system and its specific features, such as direct democracy or the ‘milice’ system, have been called into question by recent developments, such as European integration, partisan polarisation, the professionalisation of political careers, and the growing exposure to the media. The LAGAPE addresses the impact of these changes on decision-making processes, generally based on comparative and historical analyses.

Research carried out within the LAGAPE also contributes to the renewal of research on elites, in particular in Switzerland. In collaboration with the Observatory of Swiss Elites (OBELIS), different projects address recent radical changes in the profile and modes of organisation of economic, political, administrative and academic elites, who are undergoing significant changes in relation to their education, professional and political careers.

Administrative actors
Public administration, whether communal, cantonal or federal, is facing multiple reforms, such as the introduction of new public management. Often, these managerial reforms entail human and organisational consequences, since they influence how administrations are organised and work for service delivery. Against this backdrop, the LAGAPE aims to reinvigorate Swiss research on public administration, with projects on the role of the bureaucracy in decision-making processes, as well as on the impact of managerial reforms on civil servants’ values and motivation, within both Swiss and international public administrations.
Governance and democracy

The transformation of modes of governance carries important challenges for the functioning of democratic political systems. A critical reflection is being developed within the LAGAPE, to assess the implications for accountability and democratic control of the multiplication of informal spheres of influence that tend to escape formal channels of power and oversight by public authorities. This reflection also addresses the growing influence of interest groups and the technocratisation of the policy-making process, i.e. the growing impact of non-elected actors on the arenas and outcomes of political deliberation and participation.

Public policies and sectoral studies
The LAGAPE also focuses on the comparative analysis of sectorial public policies, and has particular expertise in health, fiscal, financial, housing, energy, telecommunications, food, research and education policies.
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