Geschwister-Scholl-Institut für Politikwissenschaft (GSI)





Aktuelle Forschungsprojekte:

Im Rahmen des Forschungsprogramms des Lehrstuhls werden aktuell folgende Forschungsprojekte verfolgt:


Public Responsibility Attribution in the European Union

Project leaders: Prof. Dr. Bernhard Zangl and Prof. Dr. Berthold Rittberger
Researchers: Tim Heinkelmann-Wild, M.A. and Lisa Kriegmair, M.A.

For democratic polities to command legitimacy, it is essential that the political actors responsible for policy-making can be held publicly accountable. Holding policy-makers accountable presupposes that responsibility for policies can be attributed to particular and identifiable political actors. While even in democratic states the attribution of responsibility for any given policy is hardly ever straightforward, we know relatively little on how the public attributes responsibility for the policies adopted by the European Union (EU), whose policies play an integral part in the day-to-day life of EU citizens and those affected by them. In some cases – such as the failure of the EU to devise an effective border control regime, which has led to the deaths of thousands of refugees in the Mediterranean – the public attributes responsibility predominantly to EU institutions; in other cases – such as the failed redistribution of refugees among EU members – the public attributes responsibility mainly to EU member states. And in still other cases, such as the so-called welfare-migration facilitated by the EU’s freedom of movement principle, public responsibility attributions remain more or less untargeted. Especially when the effectiveness of policies is in question, political responsibility and accountability become pressing issues: To whom does the European public attribute political responsibility? When is responsibility predominantly attributed to actors at the member state level, when are attributions primarily targeted at actors at the EU level, and when are attributions untargeted? By answering these questions, the project aims at improving our understanding of public responsibility attributions (PRAs) for policies enacted by the EU. To this end, we will analyze PRAs by means of media content analysis of the coverage of three different sets of EU policies in the European quality press: environmental policies, financial policies, as well as migration policies. To explain variation in PRAs across cases we suggest – as a theoretical point of departure – that the structure of EU policy-making as well as the structure of EU policy implementation shape how the public attributes responsibility for EU policies.

For more information and publications see project website.


Emotions Matter: The Impact of Social Distance on Humanitarian Interventions (Prof. Dr. Bernhard Zangl with Dr. Hilde van Meegdenburg)

International humanitarian interventions in conflicts and the provision of humanitarian aid after catastrophes rely, in part, on the empathy of the publics in Western democracies and their willingness to make resources available. However, whilst most research on the selective nature of humanitarian interventions assumes that our empathy with the victims depends on the severity of the situation, we argue that ‘distance’ plays an important role. From social psychological research we know that spatial and social distance change people’s perception of events, lessens their emotional response to the events and therewith also their behavioural intent. Building on these findings, our central argument is that ‘distance’ poses a challenge to collective action when humanitarian interventions are required in countries physically or socially remote from us. To test this hypothesis we follow through a number of survey experiments based on vignettes. Vignettes are short, hypothetical stories that sketch a particular situation and that allow controlled variation in otherwise complex social settings. By means of the vignette-method we can vary the story we present to the participants along the lines of social distance (who the victims are) and spatial distance (where the conflict takes place) and therewith study the participants’ reactions in a controlled and systematic way. We will test both participants’ empathy with the victims, as well as their willingness to support an international humanitarian- or military intervention. We therewith explore a new answer to an important question: when are societies willing to make resources available to support interventions in regions and countries where they have no discernible interest?


Varieties of Indirect Governance (with Ken Abbott, Philipp Genschel, and Duncan Snidal)

Governors – domestic, international and private – frequently lack key capacities needed to achieve their policy goals. In such cases, governors must work with or through third parties, rendering governance indirect. Four general modes of indirect governance have been observed and discussed in the literature, although not in unified fashion. These modes are defined, first, by whether intermediaries with sufficient authority are available (cooptation, orchestration) or whether the governor must endow actors with authority (delegation, trusteeship); and, second, by whether the governor can exert hard control over intermediaries (delegation, cooptation) or is limited to soft influences (trusteeship, orchestration). We introduce these governance modes in terms of their analytic similarities and differences, consider the governance problems for which each is best suited, examine their workings and implications, and investigate their stability over time. To illustrate their importance and operation, we draw on a wide range of examples ranging from international organizations, peace-keeping, central bank autonomy to the management of dependent states.

When and how do International Organizations Adapt to Power Transitions?

The rise of emerging powers such as China, India and Brazil and the ensuing decline of established powers such as the United States, the United Kingdom and France is considered to be prone to international conflict. Power transition theories (PTTs) expect emerging powers to ask for the adaptation of the international order and the underlying international institutions to the new (power) realities, while established powers prefer to keep untouched the time-tested international order and the underlying international institutions. PT theorists thus generally agree that emerging powers aim at gaining the very same institutional privileges that established powers want to preserve for themselves; they disagree, however, whether and when the resulting conflicts can be dealt with cooperatively. Pessimist PT theorists expect non-cooperation and institutional stalemate (or worse), while optimist PT theorists expect cooperation and institutional adaptation. Empirically, we see both at the same time: institutional stalemate in some institutions and institutional adaptation in others. While agreement could be reached to adapt voting rights in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to emerging powers’ demands, attempts to adapt permanent seats and voting rights in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to altered power realities resulted in failure. Thus, against what most PT theorists would hold, power transitions as such cannot explain whether emerging and established powers are able to agree on institutional adaptation. The ambition of this project is to refine power transition theories in this respect. Drawing on different variants of rational institutionalism in IR, we develop an institutionalist power transition theory (IPTT) which specifies the conditions and mechanisms of international institutions’ adaptation to power transitions among their member states.

Abgeschlossene Forschungsprojekte


Which Post-Westphalia? International organizations between constitutionalism and authoritarianism (with Christian Kreuder-Sonnen)

The most recent transformation of world order is often depicted as a shift from a Westphalian to a post-Westphalian era in which international organizations (IOs) are becoming increasingly independent sites of authority. This internationalization of authority is often considered as an indication of the constitutionalization of the global legal order. However, this project highlights that IOs can also exercise authority in an authoritarian fashion which violates the same constitutionalist principles of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law that IOs are usually expected to promote. It is thus an open question which post-Westphalia we are in fact heading to: a constitutionalized order, an authoritarian order, or a combination of both? Based on a conceptualization of post-Westphalian orders as a two-dimensional continuum linking the ideal-typical endpoints of constitutionalism and authoritarianism, we analyze the UN security system and the EU economic system as two post-Westphalian orders. While we find a remarkable level of constitutionalization in the EU and incipient constitutionalist tendencies in the UN, we also find authoritarian sub-orders in both institutions. Most visibly, the latter can be discerned in the UN Security Council’s counter-terrorism policy after 9/11 and the European emergency governance during the sovereign debt crisis. The project thus argues that the emerging post-Westphalian order is characterized by a plurality of fundamentally contradictory (sub-)orders coexisting in parallel.

Institutional Characteristics for Success - Global Standards and Certification Schemes for Sustainability

(mit Anna Stetter)

The research project investigatesf global standards and certification schemes (GSCSs) such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the like. The central research question underlying the project is: what institutional characteristics condition the success of global standards and certification schemes? By studying the institutional design of existing global standards and certification schemes we seek to explain why some of them operate with great success while others are less successful in implementing their goals. In the project institutional characteristics are understood to include aspects of financing, actor participation, decision-making processes, governance structure, business incentives and several others. The focus lies on schemes engaging in social and environmental sustainability issues in natural resources like forestry, fish, minerals, organic farming, etc. often traded between developing and industrial countries.

International Organizations as Orchestrators

(mit Duncan Snidal, Kenneth Abbott, Philipp Genschel)

Das vom Center for Advances Studies der LMU geförderte Projekt „International Organizations as Orchestrators“ untersucht die Rolle beispielsweise der Vereinten Nationen (VN), der Europäischen Union (EU) oder der Welthandelsorganisation (WTO) für das globale Regieren. Dabei werden internationale Organisationen als „Orchestrators“ analysiert. Orchestrierung ist eine besondere Form der Governance, bei der internationale Organisationen zum einen nicht selbst regieren, sondern andere Akteure in ihren Governance-Bemühungen unterstützen und zum anderen nicht auf harte, sondern auf weiche Governance-Instrumente zurückgreifen. Die Unterstützung des Umweltprogramms der Vereinten Nationen (UNEP) für die Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), welche privatwirtschaftliche Akteure zu einer angemessenen Nachhaltigkeitsberichter¬stattung anhält, mag hier als Beispiel dienen. Das Projekt bringt international führende Politik- und Rechtswissenschaftler zusammen, welche unterschiedliche Formen der Orchestrierung durch internationale Organisationen wie die UNO, die WTO, die WHO, die ILO oder die EU beschreiben, um insbesondere die Bedingungen zu identifizieren, unter denen diese auf Orchestrierung als Governance-Form zurückgreifen.

Die Politisierung der Entscheidungen internationaler Institutionen

(mit Thomas Rixen vom Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin WZB)

Bis ins späte 20. Jahrhundert blieb die Politisierung der Entscheidungen internationaler Institutionen eher die Ausnahme. Es gab zwar einige internationale Entscheidungen, die in der nationalen Öffentlichkeit kontrovers diskutiert wurden. Ein Beispiel waren oftmals die Friedensverträge nach den großen Europäischen Kriegen. Doch das Gros internationaler Entscheidungen, wurde von Diplomaten hinter verschlossenen Türen getroffen, ohne dass sich die breite Öffentlichkeit dafür besonders interessiert hätte, geschweige denn diese Entscheidungen kontrovers diskutiert hätte. Diese – fast durchgängig geringe – Politisierung internationaler Entscheidungen scheint sich seit dem ausgehenden 20. Jahrhundert zu ändern. Die Entscheidungen internationaler Institutionen werden zunehmend politisiert. Das Politisierungsniveau variiert dabei jedoch erheblich: manche Entscheidungen werden in der Öffentlichkeit eher kühl aufgenommen, andere dagegen führen zu hitzigen Debatten. Das Projekt analysiert die Bedingungen, unter denen es zu einer starken Politisierung kommt bzw. unter denen eine solche Politisierung weitgehend unterbleibt. Konkret werden die öffentlichen Reaktionen in den USA auf zwei paarweise ähnliche internationale steuerpolitische Entscheidungen analysiert: zum einen werden die Reaktionen auf die Verurteilung amerikanischer Steuersubventionen durch das GATT und durch die WTO verglichen und zum anderen die Reaktionen auf die Entscheidung der OECD, gegen sogenannte Steueroasen vorzugehen, mit denen auf eine ähnliche Entscheidung des Global Forum on Taxation. Aufgrund des zweifachen Vergleichs zeigt sich, dass erstens die Politisierung supranational (bzw. majoritär) getroffener Entscheidungen höher ist als die von intergouvernemental gefällten Entscheiden und dass zweitens bei supranationalen bzw. majoritären Entscheidungen die Legitimität der betreffenden Institution das Politisierungsniveau ganz entscheidend prägt.

Die Judizialisierung internationaler Streitbeilegung

In diesem von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) im Rahmen des Bremer Sonderforschungsbereichs „Staatlichkeit im Wandel“ geförderten Forschungsprojekt wird untersucht, inwieweit Staaten heute internationale Streitigkeiten zunehmend in einem durch das internationale Recht vorgegebenen Rahmen austragen. Analysiert wird vor allem, ob mit der so genannten Judizialisierung internationaler Streitverfahren – also ihrer Vergerichtlichung – tatsächlich auch eine veränderte Streitbeilegung einher geht, bei der Staaten diese Streitverfahren vermehrt nutzen und akzeptieren. Dies wird anhand internationaler Streitigkeiten in den internationalen Handelsbeziehungen (GATT/WTO), beim internationalen Artenschutz (CITES), in der internationalen Sicherheitspolitik (UNO), beim internationalen Arbeitsschutz (ILO) und in der europäischen Menschenrechtspolitik (Europarat) untersucht.