"Here you can find Information about upcoming training, calls for papers, blog posts, and other interesting news!"


New book: Customized implementation of European Union food safety policy: United in diversity?

posted Aug 29, 2018, 3:34 AM by Eva Thomann

This newly published book provides a new, evidence-based perspective on “gold-plating” and better regulation in Europe for scholars, students and

practitioners of policy implementation, European integration and Europeanization alike:


Thomann, E. 2019. Customized Implementation of European Union Food Safety Policy: United in Diversity? Palgrave, International Series of Public Policy.


This book sheds light on the patterns, causes and consequences of the “customization” of European Union (EU) policies. Even if they comply, member states interpret and adapt EU rules in very diverse ways when putting them into practice. We can think of and measure this diversity as a phenomenon of regulatory change along the implementation chain. The book explores what explains customization, and what it means for providing policy solutions to shared problems. It studies the implementation of EU food safety policies in Austria, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Switzerland using innovative set-theoretic techniques. After looking at the role of prominent compliance arguments and the “logics of action” in customization, the study assesses how differing degrees of customization affect the success of the implementation.


You can get 20% off the printed book or eBook when ordering the book via and using the following token:

PM18TWENTY3 . The offer is valid Sep 1, 2018 – Sep 29, 2018.

Panels "United in Diversity? Implementation and Performance in Multi-Level Governance", ECPR general Conference in Hamburg, 25.8.2018

posted Aug 10, 2018, 4:30 AM by Eva Thomann   [ updated Aug 10, 2018, 4:38 AM ]

Asya Zhelyazkova and I hope to welcome you at one of our two panels on Implementation and Performance in Multi-Level Governance at the ECPR general conference in Hamburg!

When: Saturday 25.8.2018, 09:00 - 12:40h
Where: Building: VMP 8 Floor: Ground Room: VMP8-Lecture Hall 

In multi-level governance structures such as the European Union (EU), decentralized implementation inevitably leads to a diversity of policy solutions in practice. However, our knowledge about this diversity is limited empirically and theoretically. What does it imply for policy performance, the legitimacy of decision-making, and the ways in which member states “take back control”? How can we gain a fuller empirical picture of multi-level policy implementation? The panel invites papers that analyse implementation patterns, delegation processes and administrative discretion, (differentiated) integration, and multi-level governance. Preference is given to studies that provide systematic evidence, are theoretically, conceptually and/or methodologically innovative.


S73 P505

United in Diversity? Implementation and Performance in Multi-Level Governance I
Saturday 09:00 - 10:40 (25/08/2018)

Chair: Eva Thomann

Discussant: Eva Ruffing

Contributors:  Sebastiaan Princen,  Eva Thomann, Asya Zhelyazkova, Bernard Steunenberg, J.C.F. van Oijen, Kor Grit, Roland Bal, Claudia Gloazzo

S73 P506

United in Diversity? Implementation and Performance in Multi-Level Governance II
Saturday 11:00 - 12:40 (25/08/2018)
Chair: Asya Zhelyazkova

Discussants: Sebastiaan Princen and Eva Heidbreder

Contributors: Judith Gollata, Jens Newig, Elisa Kochskämper, Andrea Lenschow, Elena Bondarouk, Lydie Cabane, Martin Lodge, Miriam Hartlapp, Andreas Hofmann, Jana Paasch, Christian Stecker, Jale Tosun

Postgraduate Training Day at UoE

posted May 1, 2018, 8:14 AM by Eva Thomann   [ updated May 1, 2018, 8:18 AM ]

Workshop: Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Fuzzy Sets, University of Reading

posted Jan 31, 2018, 2:17 AM by Eva Thomann   [ updated Mar 17, 2018, 7:33 AM ]

Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Fuzzy Sets
The Cedars, University of Reading, UK
3 May 2018
A Seminar led by Dr Eva Thomann


Social scientists often face a trade-off between identifying regularities among cases and accounting for the complexity of social reality. Achieving more “breadth” often comes at the cost of the “depth” of analysis. Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is a technique that combines elements of both. QCA enables a systematic, context-sensitive comparison of intermediate (ca. >10) up to large numbers of cases, which is enriched with in-depth case knowledge. As such it helps researchers to model several aspects of causal complexity, such as equifinality – meaning that many ways may lead to Rome – and the configurational nature of cases, for example intersectionality and contextually contingent patterns. Rather than focusing on isolated net effects, QCA if identifies necessary and sufficient conditions for an outcome. This makes it attractive for researchers interested in finding prerequisites for a given phenomenon, or the conditions under which outcomes (such as compliance, successful revolutions, democratic consolidation, etc.) come about.


 Topics covered in the seminar

  • Origins, dissemination, variants and uses of QCA; Causal complexity: equifinality, configurations, asymmetry; The notions of necessity and sufficiency, compared to correlation

  • Sets, calibration, and the structure of social science concepts; Set relations, their consistency and coverage

  • Truth table analysis and logical minimization; Limited empirical diversity and counterfactual arguments

  • Post-QCA case selection: identifying typical and deviant cases

  • Hands-on exercises and introduction to fs/QCA software

  • Replication of a published QCA study

  • Inputs from the participants’ own research projects


    The seminar commences at 10.00 am and closes at 16.30

Call for papers "United in diversity? Implementation and performance in multi-level governance", ECPR 2018 Hamburg

posted Dec 20, 2017, 6:43 AM by Eva Thomann

Asya Zhelyazkova and I invite paper proposals for our panel at the ECPR general conference in Hamburg, 22.-25.8.2018, which is part of the section on “The Politics of Bureaucracy” chaired by Tobias Bach and Martino Maggetti. Please upload your paper abstract on the ECPR homepage and send your paper abstract (max. 250 words) to Asya Zhelyazkova and me until 31 January.

United in diversity? Implementation and performance in multi-level governance 

Dr. Eva Thomann, Department of Politics, University of Exeter,
Dr. Asya Zhelyazkova, School of Management, Radboud University Nijmegen, 

In multi-level governance structures such as the European Union (EU), decentralized implementation inevitably leads to a diversity of policy solutions in practice. However, our knowledge about this diversity is limited empirically and theoretically. What does it imply for policy performance, the legitimacy of decision-making, and the ways in which member states “take back control”? How can we gain a fuller empirical picture of multi-level policy implementation? The panel invites papers that analyse implementation patterns, delegation processes and administrative discretion, (differentiated) integration, and multi-level governance. Preference is given to studies that provide systematic evidence, are theoretically, conceptually and/or methodologically innovative.

Call for papers: Behavioural Public Policy and Administration: The Next Level

posted Oct 23, 2017, 5:01 AM by Eva Thomann

Political Studies Association Annual Conference, 26-28 March 2018, Cardiff.  Call for Papers, Public Policy and Administration Specialist Group 

Panel: Behavioural Public Policy and Administration: The Next Level 

Panel chairs:
Dr. Alice Moseley, Department of Politics, University of Exeter,
Dr. Eva Thomann, Department of Politics, University of Exeter, 

Prof. Dr. Oliver James, Department of Politics, University of Exeter, 

This panel draws together contributions which examine and combine the state of the art and perspectives on behavioural public policy (BPP) and behavioural public administration (BPA). We particularly invite papers that explore recent innovations in these fields and how they can mutually inform and complement each other. 

Recent years have witnessed a “behavioural turn” in the fields of public policy and public administration. This turn is characterised by a focus on the psychological and motivational processes that explain how individuals implementing or addressed by public policy respond and behave. Behavioural perspectives improve our understanding of the micro-mechanisms that link public interventions with the behavioural change they intend to achieve (Alemanno and Sibony 2015; John 2016; Moseley and Stoker 2013; Oliver 2015; Schneider and Ingram 1990; Shafir 2013; Van der Heidjen and Kosters 2015). Clearly, these perspectives are becoming increasingly influential as illustrated, for example, by the recent announcement of Professor Richard H. Thaler’s Nobel memorial prize in economic sciences for work his work on “nudges” (Thaler and Substein 2008), and by the dedication to entire special issues on BPA in flagship public administration journals (Grimmelkhuijsen et al. 2017; James et al. 2017; Tummers et al. 2016), as well as the creation of a new academic journal on Behavioural Public Policy. It is the aim of this panel to take stock of the state of the art in both fields, explore synergies, and identify promising avenues for research to take the behavioural perspective to “the next level”. To this end, we invite papers from both junior and advanced scholars that explore a number of themes, at the conceptual or empirical level. Preference will be given to contributions that provide or review systematic evidence on one of these themes.

Read the full call for papers here

Why I still don't prefer parsimonious solutions

posted Sep 6, 2017, 5:46 AM by Eva Thomann

Last week, Dimiter Toshkov published a blog post about rejecting QCA papers that do not use parsimonious solutions, in reaction to a statement by the COMPASSS Network of whose Steering Committee I am a member. He kindly invited me to reply:

"Thank you very much, Dimiter, for issuing this blog debate and inviting me to reply. In your blog post, you outline why, absent counterevidence, you find it justified to reject applied Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) paper submission that do not use the parsimonious solution. I think I agree with some but not all of your points. Let me start by clarifying a few things.

Point of clarification 1: COMPASSS statement is about bad reviewer practice

It´s good to see that we all seem to agree that “no single criterion in isolation should be used to reject manuscripts during anonymous peer review”. The reviewer practice addressed in the COMPASSS statement is a bad practice. Highlighting this bad reviewer practice is the sole purpose of this statement. Conversely, the COMPASSS statement does not take sides when it comes to preferring specific solution types over others. The statement also does not imply anything about the frequency of this reviewer practice – this part of your post is pure speculation.  Personally I have heard people complaining about getting papers rejected for promoting or using conservative (QCA-CS), intermediate (QCA-IS) and parsimonious solutions (QCA-PS) with about the same frequency. But it is of course impossible for COMPASSS to get a representative picture of this phenomenon.

The term “empirically valid” refers to the, to my best knowledge entirely undisputed fact that all solution types are (at least) based on the information contained in the empirical data. The question that´s disputed is how we can or should go “beyond the facts” in causally valid ways when deriving QCA solutions.

Having said this, I will take off my “hat” as a member of the COMPASSS steering committee and contribute a few points to this debate. These points represent my own personal view and not that of COMPASSS or any of its bodies. I write as someone who uses QCA sometimes in her research and teaches it, too. Since I am not a methodologist, I won´t talk about fundamental issues of ontology and causality. I hope others will jump in on that.

Point of clarification 2: There is no point in personalizing this debate

In your comment you frequently refer to “the COMPASSS people”. But I find that pointless: COMPASSS hosts a broad variety of methodologists, users, practitioners, developers and teachers with different viewpoints and of different “colours and shapes”, some persons closer to “case-based” research, other closer to statistical/analytical research. Amongst others, Michael Baumgartner whom you mention is himself a members of the advisory board and he has had methodological debates with his co-authors as well.  Just because we can procedurally agree on a bad reviewer practice, it neither means we substantively agree on everything, nor does it imply that we disagree. History has amply shown how unproductive it can be for scientific progress when debates like these become personalized. Thus, if I could make a wish to you and everyone else engaging in this debate, it would be to talk about arguments rather than specific people. In what follows I will therefore refer to different approaches instead unless when referring to specific scholarly publications.

Point of clarification 3: There is more than one perspective on the validity of different solutions

As to your earlier point which you essentially repeat here, that “but if two solutions produce different causal recipes,  e.g. (1) AB-> E and (2) ABC-> E it cannot be that both (1) and (2) are valid”, my answer is: it depends on what you mean with “valid”.


Read my full reply here

Call for papers for a symposium in Public Administration

posted Aug 30, 2017, 5:17 AM by Eva Thomann

Title of the Symposium:
Integration, functional differentiation and problem-solving in multilevel governance: a comparative perspective 

Guest editors: 

Dr. Philipp Trein,
Dr. Eva Thomann,
Prof. Dr. Martino Maggetti,

This symposium addresses the question of the relationship between integration, functional differentiation and problem-solving in multilevel governance. It does so by highlighting the added value of adopting a comparative perspective between the European Union (EU) and other entities, and, respectively of applying a multilevel governance framework to other contexts than the EU. 

Potentially successful contributions make an explicit point on the comparison in which they engage, and pose research questions such as the following:
  • How does the EU and other systems of multilevel governance (e.g., supranational organizations or federal states) compare in their relation of integration and problem-solving capacity?
  • How do different degrees of integration and/or functional differentiation (not) affect problem-solving capacity for governments at different levels in the multilevel system?
  • How do times of crisis and/or turbulence impact on problem-solving capacity in different configurations of integration and/or functional differentiation?
  • How do integration, functional differentiation and problem-solving evolve in various multilevel contexts?
  • Under which degrees of (institutional, policy, political) integration and/or functional differentiation do political conflicts impede effective problem-solving in multilevel governance systems?
Potentially successful contributions include:
  • Comparative empirical analyses of integration, functional differentiation and problem-solving in multilevel contexts that compare the EU to other cases, or compare different policy sectors within the EU
  • Empirical analyses that make a theoretical contribution to integration, functional differentiation and problem-solving in multilevel governance using other cases than the EU, or different theoretical perspectives that can inform the EU literature
  • Literature reviews that go beyond discussing the state of the art regarding integration and problem-solving in multilevel governance by providing a novel and stretching argument or insight and hence make a valuable and original contribution to multilevel governance Theory
Authors who are interested in contributing a paper should email an abstract of 500 words to the guest editors by September 22, 2017.
Find the
full Calll for Papers here

Why the implementation of European Union law is more than just a question of legal compliance

posted Jul 8, 2017, 10:09 PM by Eva Thomann   [ updated Jul 8, 2017, 10:23 PM ]

The European Union (EU) is an unprecedented instance of a regulatory state above the nation state. Its
underlying idea is to provide joint solutions to shared regulatory problems. For example, the EU issues emission reduction targets for new cars in order to address the problem of man-made environmental pollution. However, and as the above picture illustrates, it is not always an easy task to ensure that the actors responsible for a given problem – for example, car producers – comply with such rules. Member states have a crucial and double role here. On the one hand, they often have to transpose rules from EU Directives into national legislation. Beyond this, however, they also have to put these rules on paper into action, and enforce them to ensure that target groups actually comply. Germany, for instance, has not rigorously enforced EU emission reduction targets vis-à-vis the Volkswagen Company. To put it bluntly, EU law can be perfectly transposed and still fail due to poor implementation performance in practice.

It is important to study the conditions under which EU law is successfully implemented. Research about this topic tends to focus on the process of legal transposition. We know much less about the question of how policies on paper are put into action – not least because data about these phenomena are often hard to obtain. Clearly, however, EU policies change while being put into practice. As a result, policy outcomes vary widely between member states and may not correspond with the original policy objectives. This has become apparent again as the asylum or austerity crises challenge the EU’s problem-solving capacity. In our JEPP special issue “Moving beyond legal compliance: Innovative approaches to EU multilevel implementation”, we take a closer look at the implementation stage in “zooming in” on implementation performance and asking how domestic actors problem-solve when interpreting EU law.


Read the full post on the EU Law Enforcement blog

Don't miss our panel at the 2017 Conference of Europeanists in Glasgow !

posted Jun 23, 2017, 6:13 AM by Eva Thomann   [ updated Jul 10, 2017, 11:00 PM ]

European Union in crisis: (what) can we learn from other cases?
Panel at the 24th International Conference of Europeanists, Council for European Studies, Glasgow, Scotland, July 12-14, 2017
Territorial Politics and Federalism Research Network

Place and time:     Thursday, July 13 4:00 to 5:45 PM - University of Glasgow WMB - Hugh Fraser Seminar Room 2

Panel Chairs:
Dr. Eva Thomann, Institute of Political Science, Heidelberg University, Germany
Dr. Philipp Trein, Faculty of Social and Political Science, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Prof. Dr. Miriam Hartlapp and Dr. Philipp Trein

Panel description
The European Union (EU) is currently facing major challenges that not only put into question the overall process of European integration, but also the EU’s capacity to effectively resolve shared problems. In the quest to generate evidence that helps us to understand and mediate these problems, Europeanists tend to approach the EU as a unique and unprecedented economic, political and administrative system that requires a separate analytical approach. As a result, we often observe insulated strands of research on the EU that undertake little efforts to connect their insights to the broader study of similar phenomena. To the contrary, this panel seeks to illuminate how we can learn about contemporary challenges in the EU from other cases and theories. The panel gathers contributions on a broad range of topics concerning the EU that explicitly use theoretical, analytical or empirical insights from other strands of literature and empirical cases. Comparable cases include, for example, other multi-level governance systems; other inter- and supranational organizations; and referenda in (semi-) democratic systems. Useful theoretical and practical insights may be gained from the literature on democratic participation, policy integration, management reforms, risk regulation, policy learning, and multi-level implementation theory. The panel gathers papers that explicitly argue for comparability and derive lessons for contemporary issues in the EU. Thereby, the panel seeks to unravel the potential and limits of how cumulative knowledge in Political Science and related fields may advance our current understanding of the EU in important ways.


EU Referenda: What to Learn from the Swiss Case.
Eva Thomann, Heidelberg University; Eva  Heidbreder, University of Dusseldorf; Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen, University of Bern; Fritz  Sager, University of Bern

Cross-Sectoral Policy Integration in Energy  Governance: The EU and International  Governmental Organizations Compared.
Jale Tosun, Heidelberg University; B. Guy Peters,  University of Pittsburgh

Moving Beyond the Sui Generis Verdict: Comparing Management Reforms in the European Commission with Other International  Organizations.
Jörn Ege, German University of  Administrative Sciences Speyer; Michael Bauer, German University of Administrative Sciences  Speyer

Regulating Complexity in the European Union – the Role of the European Centre for Decease Prevention and Control in the H1N1 Case.
Esther Versluis, Maastricht University; Jinhee Kim, Maastricht University - Google Sites Tweet Button

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