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What are the conditions for the rise and decline of political order? What are the limits of established rule as we know it? How much resilience can political order – in particular in democratic systems – develop in order to absorb external and internal stress and turbulence? How do governments tackle ambiguity and uncertainty in their systems and environments? How can they deal effectively with complex transnational governance problems? These are some of the big questions of our time. The European Integration and Transnational Governance Research group studies democratic governance in the twenty-first century and explores how government institutions respond to precipitous, conflicting and novel governance challenges.

The Research Group engages in research, teaching and public debate on European politics and transnational governance. Centre stage of attention is challenges to democratic governance in Europe. The challenges are manifold: The process of ”Brexit” questions visions of European political co-existence through ‘an ever closer union of peoples and states’, the surge of religious and political radicalization in many (Western) countries threatens the established foundations of  political party systems and democratic stability, (right-wing) populism questions democratic standards, procedures and values, digitalization transform the role of elected assemblies and the role of established institutions in public governance, while the combat of global pandemics requires that coordination dilemmas among states and across policy sectors are tackled. The research group works on four larger, but inter-locking challenges to systems of multi-level governance and administration dealing with complex societal challenges:

1. Resilience and adaptation (‘differentiation’) of political systems of governance:

  • How enduring and sustainable are political systems when faced with multiple and cascading crises? Do crises, such as “Brexit”, undermine the likelihood of common political order at European level or do they envisage the contours of a differentiated Europe with variable tempi and geography and less investment in political-institutional coexistence?
  • Are evolving challenges to democracy such as populism, secrecy and disinformation campaigns (“fake news”), as well as globalization a serious threat to the basic parameters and the fundamental values and norms of a system or do they merely result in refocusing, adjusting, and repurposing existing democratic institutions, procedures and norms?

2. Transformation of political systems of governance:

  • When does the rise of a European political system trigger wider system transformation? Under what conditions does the sum of systemic changes to democratic governance aggregate to principled new political order? If so, this research group aims to unveil the characteristics, elements, and dynamics of such system transformation.
  • Do the emergence of ‘new’ political systems – such as the European Union - transform pre-existing systems – such as nation-states -, and if so, does the rise of a genuine European political system represent a profound institutional transformation or merely a modification of well-known principles and practices of democratic governance and patterns of public problem-solving?
  • How does evolving European integration impacts on well-known processes of political control and accountability, the role of expertise in politics, administrative coordination, policy implementation, and learning.

3. Multilevel administration:

  • How does a European multilevel administrative system challenge public administration as an instrument of national democratic authority?
  • How far and with what effects does policy making in a multilevel administrative system change the role and power of core executive institutions and parliamentary oversight?

4. Comparative international public administration:

  • How does the European multilevel administrative system compare to other systems of regional integration and governance?
  • How does it affect architectures of regional and global governance?

Institutional focus

The research group has a strong focus on European and EU institutions and strong interest on questions of institutional design, democracy and accountability of systems of governance, and how they impact on public governance processes and institutional change and continuity. Research focuses specifically on the changing role of political representatives and unelected office holders. This includes research on the structuring and governance of politico-administrative institutions, relationships between politics and administration, and the role of semi-public organizations such as contracted public services. The intellectual foundations of the group lie in a diverse fields of administrative sciences, political theory, organizational and institutional theory, international relations and theories of decision making and the policy-making process.

Governance and policy focus

Research focuses on governance systems, how they are structured, how they function, and their effects. Governance is understood as steering society through interactive and hierarchical processes towards collectively negotiated goals. This involves research on how EU institutions and policies intersect with member states, including the complex web of multi-level interactions between municipalities, regions, states and the supranational level. This also includes research on how the EU governs policy fields that cut across national borders, and how EU acts as an international policy actor. The research group conducts analyses on a wide range of policy areas, including for example external relations, development policy, energy policy, research and higher education, health, taxation, as well as, radicalism and popular dissent. 

Selected research partners

  • University of Oslo, ARENA Centre for European Studies, Norway
  • University of Canberra, School of Government and Policy, Australia
  • UC Berkeley, Peder Sather Centre for Advanced Studies
  • University of Trento, Department of Political Science, Italy
  • The German Development Institute, Germany
  • Maastricht University, Department of Political Science, The Netherlands
  • The German University of Public Administration, Speyer
  • Leiden University, Department of Public Administration, The Netherlands
  • University of Konstanz, Department of Political Science, Germany
  • University of Utrecht, School of Governance, The Netherlands

Selected publications

Ansell, C., J. Trondal and M. Ogard (eds.) (2017) Governance in Turbulent Times. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bauer, M.W. and J. Trondal (eds.) (2015) The Palgrave Handbook of the European Administrative System. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Busouic, M., M. Groenleer and J. Trondal (2012) (eds.) The Agency Phenomenon in the European Union. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Egeberg, M. and J. Trondal (2016) ‘Why strong coordination at one level of government is incompatible with strong coordination across levels (and how to live with it). The case of the European Union’, Public Administration 94(3): 579–592.

Gänzle, S. (2017) ‘Macro-regional Strategies of the European Union (EU) and Experimentalist Design of Multi-level Governance: the Case of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region’, Regional & Federal Studies, 27 (1): 1-22.

Gänzle, S. and K. Kern (eds) (2016) A ‘Macro-regional Europe’ in the Making. Theoretical Approaches and Empirical Evidence, EU studies series edited by Neill Nugent, Michelle Egan and William Paterson), London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gänzle, S. (2016), ‘New Strategic Approaches to Territorial Cooperation in Europe: from Euro-regions to European Groupings for Territorial Cooperation (EGTCs) and Macro-regional Strategies’, Simona Piattoni and Laura Polverari (eds), Handbook on Cohesion Policy in the European Union, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016: 384-398.

Furness, M. and S. Gänzle (2016) ‘»Nexus Management» in EU Foreign Relations after Lisbon: Policy Coherence at Last?’, Development Policy Review, DOI::10.1111/dpr.12191.

Piattoni, S. (2010) The Theory of Multi-level Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Piattoni, S. (2016) ´Cohesion policy, multilevel governance and democracy´, in S. Piattoni and L. Polverari (eds.) Handbook on Cohesion Policy in the EU. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. 

Piattoni, S. (2016) ´Exploring European Macro-regional Strategies through the Lens of Multilevel Governance´, in S. Gaenzle and K. Kristine (eds.) A 'Macro-regional' Europe in the Making. Theoretical Approaches and Empirical Evidence. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave-Macmillan.

Stie, A.E. (2013) Democratic Decision-making in the EU. London: Routledge.

Trondal, J. (2010) An Emergent European Executive Order. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Trondal, J. (2016) ‘Advances to the study of international public administration’, Journal of European Public Policy 23(7): 1097–1108.

Trondal, J. (ed.) (2017) The Rise of Common Political Order. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Trondal, J. and M.W Bauer (2017) ‘Conceptualizing the European multilevel administrative order. Capturing variation in the European administrative system’, European Political Science Review 9(1): 73-94.

Henökl, T (2015) Inside the External Action Service: Unpacking the EU foreign policy bureaucracy. PhD thesis, University of Agder.

Henökl, T. (2015) ‘How Do EU Foreign Policy-Makers Decide? Institutional Orientations within the European External Action Service, West European Politics 38(3): 679-708.

Henökl, T. (2014) ‘Conceptualizing the European Diplomatic Space: A framework for analysis of the European External Action Service’, Journal of European Integration 36(5):453-471.

Henökl, T. and J. Trondal (2015) ‘Unveiling the Anatomy of Autonomy: Dissecting actor-level independence of the EU’s foreign policy bureaucracy’, Journal of European Public Policy 22(10): 1426–1447.

Lia, Brynjar & Katja H-W Skjølberg, 2000. ‘Why Terrorism Occurs - A Survey of Theories and Hypotheses on the Causes of Terrorism’. FFI rapport. 02769. Kjeller: Forsvarets forskningsinstitutt.

Lia, Brynjar & Katja H-W Skjølberg, 2005. ‘Causes of Terrorism: An Expanded and Updated Review of the Literature’, FFI Research Report-2004/04307. Kjeller: Forsvarets Forskningsinstitutt.


Differentiated integration in the European Union after Brexit: UACES Collaborative Research Network (2017-2020): The United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016 has led to further uncertainties and debates over the future of European integration. This Collaborative Research Network brings together scholars to reflect on the future direction of European (dis)integration after Brexit. This unprecedented scenario paves the way for further studies of differentiated European integration. Web-site: https://differentiated-integration.eu/

The Academic Research Network on Agencification of EU Executive Governance (TARN): TARN aims to promote multi- and interdisciplinary research about the agencification of EU executive governance and to encourage a dialogue between academia and practitioners. TARN is a research, information and agenda-setting network informing agency operation within the EU in a transnational setting. It brings together renowned and young academics and practitioners from various disciplines and policy areas and pools knowledge on research and legal provisions, policy documents and information on the practical operation of EU agencies. Web-site: http://tarn.maastrichtuniversity.nl/

The Central Administration Survey: This research project involves several large-scale surveys of the Norwegian central administration across time. Several survey studies have been conducted with 10-years intervals (1976, 1986, 1996, 2006, 2016) at the ministerial and the agency level (giving 9 surveys in total). The data sets offer a unique opportunity to study continuity and change of public governance in central administrative institutions.