Department of Business and Politics

Research Projects

The research projects at the Department of Business and Politics are within CBS' strategic focus area Business and Politics. The focus area Globalisation (and Europeanisation) is also a regular aspect of the research carried out at DBP.


External public funded

Crooked Politics: Vote Markets and Redistribution in New Democracies

Democratic elections in developing countries are often accompanied by vote buying – a type of electoral corruption where political parties buy individuals’ votes before the election. The purpose of this project is to explain why some voters are targeted by political parties and engage in vote trades, and what the consequences of vote markets are for redistributive policies. These questions will be addressed in two work pages. The first work package examines the causes of vote buying, focusing on the role of poverty and voter information. This will be examined through an integrated research design combining a case study – implemented as a postelection survey in South Africa – with a multilevel data analysis using individual level survey data from a large number of countries. The second work package examines the distributional consequences of vote buying, implemented through a research design utilizing variation between countries and across municipalities in South Africa.

This research project is funded by the Danish Research Council.

Further information: Mogens Kamp Justesen.

Rewards on the top

What type and level of rewards do people and politicians prefer, and what rewards do politicians actually obtain? The study of the rewards of high public office (RHPO) is not merely a question about politicians’ pay and pensions, but rather a study of one of the core questions in political science; namely, the contract between the politicians and the people. The aim of this project is to study both sides of the coin: The rewards citizens are willing to accord to politicians and the strategies and actual rewards linked to holding high public office (HPO). Work package 1 investigates the preferences stated for different types and levels of rewards among people and politicians. Work package 2 investigates how politicians are actually rewarded by examining the size of different types of RHPO politicians obtain at different times. The knowledge produced in the two work packages forms the foundation for assessing and discussing the cleavages between the preferences stated by the people and the politicians and the actual positive and negative rewards earned.

The projects homepage

Read the project proposal here:  project_proposal.pdf

Further information: Lene Holm Pedersen

Mind the Gaps: Explaining Variation in Nordic Tax Collection and Compliance

This project brings together three research programmes linked by a core theme and theoretical approach: the study of taxation from the perspective of social institutions. Together, these projects address the question, “how do states sustain themselves and gain the cooperation of tax payers—including both citizens and firms—in the endeavour for governance?” This is a matter not only of long-standing scholarly interest, but of great timeliness and relevance for Denmark and its neighbours. The project’s international research team will bring together multiple methodologies and disciplinary perspectives, including those of sociology, economics, and political science. By combining interview techniques, experimentation and historical-comparative analysis, the project will make progress in the study of taxation through multiple journal articles and two books. The international visibility of Danish social science will be enhanced by widespread interest in the topic among scholars and policy-makers.

Further informtation: Brooke Harrington
NEPSUS - New Partnerships for Sustainability

New and more complex partnerships are emerging to address the sustainability of natural resource use in developing countries. These partnerships variously link donors, governments, community-based organisations, NGOs, business, certification agencies and other intermediaries. High expectations and many resources have been invested in these initiatives. Yet, we still do not know whether more complexity, including more sophisticated organisational structures and inclusive processes, has delivered better sustainability outcomes, and if so, in what sectors and under which circumstances. In particular, we need a greater understanding of: the role played by facilitators in forging these initiatives; how partnerships obtain and manage legitimacy in different arenas; and how these factors may result in different outcomes. To fill this knowledge gap and build capacity in this area, NEPSUS is assembling a multidisciplinary team to analyse partnerships with different degrees of complexity through structured comparisons in three key natural resource sectors, with specific focus on Tanzania: wildlife, coastal resources and forestry. These sectors have established traditions for co-management and partnerships, but have also experienced recent innovations, and constitute important elements of rural livelihood strategies. Tanzania provides an ideal case for researching the impact of new partnerships on sustainability outcomes because policy and programme implementation in these three sectors are heavily dependent on their success.

Further information: Stefano Ponte
Weak Ties - Weak Ties and Corporate Network Power: A Longitudinal Study

The key proposition in this project is that broad class and occupational status categories are blunt analytical instruments in explaining the replication of corporate power, and that sharper tools are needed to study how corporate elites create inner circles drawn from the upper classes. This project suggests that social Network characteristics explain the selection process; that we should focus on relations rather than attributes. This shifts the overall emphasis at the inter-generational transmission of class (Goldthorpe 2000; Wright 1997) and/or cultural traits (Jæger & Breen, forthcoming) to the intra-generational effect of social Network characteristics for social mobility. Historical network data from Danish administrative databases is used to model the importance of weak social ties in selection processes of incumbent members of corporate power elites.

Further information:  Lasse Folke Henriksen
Tied up? - Exploring elite cohesion in the intersection of networks and careers

The aim of this study is to enhance our understanding of power elite cohesion. Power elites face the challenge of becoming and remaining insiders in two groups at the same time: in the networks surrounding their own organisation and in the networks of the power elite as a whole. Members of the power elite must achieve what Vedres and Stark (2010) call intercohesion: being a key member of two tightly knit cliques at once. But how do members of the power elite manage this tension? As a theoretical point of departure, the study reinterprets the notion of power elites developed by C. Wright Mills (1956). The power elite constitutes a social group. The cohesion of this group is achieved through sharing social traits, primarily social background, education and professional experience in the same organisations as well as through social interaction in elite networks. However, according to Mills, members of the power elite must also be leaders in their respective organisations and sectors. Therefore they must have positions of intercohesion. This study will enhance our understanding of how elite networks are perceived and used in different factions of the power elite. In short, the study asks how elite individuals are tied up by their different alliances.

Further information: Christoph Houmann Ellersgaard 


External private funded

Civil Society in the Shadow of the State (CISTAS) - Carlsberg Fonden

Civil Society in the Shadow of the State (CISTAS) is an interdisciplinary project, which analyses the Danish CS, historically, sociologically and politically, raising these questions; what role has civil society had in the development of the modern state and the welfare state? What role does civil society play today and what role will it play in the future? 

The project is based on four theses:
1. The state is not the opposite of the civil society. It provides the conditions for the existence of a civil society
2. CS is a political contested concept, which over time change and is ascribed different characteristics and roles.  
3. CS can contribute to both social cohesion and social disintegration of society through CS´s organisational forms and democratic practices 
4. The emergence, use and practices of the Danish CS represent particular social, historical and political characteristics. 
The theses constitute the framework for six subprojects
1. CS and associative democracy 
2. CS and philanthropy 
3. CS and voluntariness
4. Danish CS in a comparative perspective 
5. CS, trust, social capital and cohesion 
6. CS’s forms of ownership and organisational structure
With a budget of DKK 8.97 mill and a team of six researcher led by professor Lars Bo Kaspersen and Associate Professor Liv Egholm for a five years period (2014- 2018), CISTAS will provide research on the role civil society has played in the emergence and development of the modern welfare state and its current form.
Read more here:   
The project is funded by the Carlsberg Foundation 
Further information: Liv Egholm 
Read more: CISTAS
Center for Civil Society Studies - Realdania, TrygFonden, Tuborgfondet

The Center, inaugurated in March, 2013, has been financed by a long-term combination of internal and external research funding based on public private partnerships, including Realdania, TrygFonden, Tuborgfondet, Jyllands-Postens Fond and Politikens Fond.
The goal of the research center is to foster original contributions to civil society studies in line with the leading international trends in the research field. By employing a comparative research perspective taking Danish case studies as the starting point and collating and contrasting with matching institutional cases, primarily from the USA, the UK, Germany, Norway and Sweden. In so doing, the Center will benefit from the experiences of other nations, and analyse the particular circumstances and phenomena, challenges and possibilities related to civil society norms in Denmark.  Four senior researchers and three Ph.D.-students constitute the core team, complemented by leading international researchers as visiting professors, i.e. we welcome scholars on sabbatical to take part in the activities at CBS Center for Civil Society Studies

Further information: Professor Anker Brink Lund

AlterEcos: Exploring Alternatives to Currently Dominant Forms of Economic Organizing

In the wake of the global financial crisis there was a moment when everyone from media pundits and social protesters to political incumbents and financial investors were rallying to an agenda for change, but now it seems that financial matters have returned to business as usual. Despite persistent investigations into and discussions of the causes and consequences of the crisis, the mode of economic organizing that dominated the financial sector pre-crisis has not been overturned. The present project begins from these insights, but does not seek to explain past events further. Instead we look to the present in an effort to discover possible futures. Beginning from the study of conspicuous regulatory, sectorial, and societal alternatives, we will explore prospects for change that already exist within the economic order – not as its radical ‘Other’, but as its ‘second selves’, its AlterEcos. We simply ask: How do alternatives to currently dominant forms of economic organizing become possible? 

Further information: Sine Nørholm Just

External international funded

STYLE: Strategic Transitions for Youth Labour in Europe

"The overriding aim of this project is to conduct a comparative EU-wide analysis on youth unemployment that is sensitive to gender, ethnic and class differences and the historical legacies of multi-level institutions shaping relevant policies.
This aim will be achieved through 10 objectives organised around 12 research, management, dissemination and scientific coordination work packages.
There are three cross-cutting research WPs that examine:
Performance, policy learning and its limitations and include the production of an international handbook on Strategic Transitions for Youth Labour in Europe.
Six substantive research WPs focus on issues of:
• labour market mismatch in terms of education and skills as well as geographical mobility,
• family and cultural barriers to employment and
• the opportunities and consequences of self-employment and flexicurity.
The central concept informing this project is based on a policy learning approach to address youth unemployment. This involves an ongoing process of including a wide range of EU stakeholders to inform the research and disseminate the results in different institutional conditions. It provides a recent historical analysis accounting for factors prior to, and following on from, the on-going economic crisis. It informs policy makers about what works and why.
The consortium will achieve the expected impact of
1) advancing the knowledge base of employment strategies to overcome youth unemployment, defining measures, methods and evaluations,
2) creating a critical network of stakeholders.
Outputs will include:
• an international handbook on Strategic Transitions for Youth Labour in Europe,
• multimedia dissemination: working papers, policy briefings, newsletters, press coverage and video podcasts,
• a comparative analysis of where and under which circumstances innovative and effective policies for getting young people into work are evident, where these policies work and why,
• pPolicy recommendations, from both case studies and quantitative analyses, on the impacts of these employment strategies
• timely and professional dissemination to key stakeholders facilitated by the partner EurActiv."

Project website:

Further information: Janine Leschke

ENLIGHTEN – European Legitimacy in Governing through Hard Times: The Role of European Networks

ENLIGHTEN responds to the first part of the EURO-4 call on “The future of European integration - 'More Europe – less Europe?'” by bringing together an interdisciplinary ‘next generation’ research team that integrates insights from Comparative Political Economy, European Studies, International Political Economy, and Sociology. ENLIGHTEN answers the call by focusing on how European modes of governance respond to ‘fast-burning’ and ‘slow-burning’ crises. These types of crises differ in how they affect the legitimacy of European input, output, and throughput processes in established and emergent modes of governance. In fast-burning crises interests are quickly formed and ideational and resource battles ensue over how to coordinate policy ideas, what institutions should be engaged, and communicating these changes to the public. Networks in fast crises are composed of defined groups seeking to protect or carve out their interests. In slow-burning crises interests are less obvious and the key task is often how to define the issues involved and who should address the problem. Here networks are commonly composed of experts who battle over how issues should be defined, as well as the boundaries on how coordinative and communicative discourses are articulated. Both fast- and slow-burning crises must be addressed by European modes of governance, with serious implications for the legitimacy and efficiency of the European project. Both raise political, social, and economic sensitivities that are transforming democratic politics in Europe. ENLIGHTEN addresses these themes through a series of linked cases that speak directly to the legitimacy and efficiency of European modes of governance.


Further Information: Leonard Seabrooke

COFFERS - Combating Fiscal Fraud and Empowering Regulators

The European Union confronts expanded inequalities across a range of areas from gender, to generational, wealth, mobility and opportunity. One underlying factor common to these expanded inequalities is deficiencies in fiscal systems. The ‘Combatting Fiscal Fraud and Empowering Regulators’ (COFFERS) project seeks to redress these deficiencies as policy innovation at national, regional and international levels undergoes a period of accelerated development. The consortium identifies deficiencies and opportunities for upgrading in tax law, tax policy development, tax administration and enforcement at the EU level and across Member States. We track the tax gap and regulatory innovation. We trace how expert networks, jurisdictions and taxpayers adapt to and negotiate rapid evolutionary change. We transmit forward looking risk assessment and policy advice to intervene in that evolutionary process.

Project coordinator: University of Utrecht, The Nederlands

Project webpage:

Resonsible faculty for the CBS partnership: Associate professor Duncan Wigan & professor Leonard Seabrooke.


ChEATAX - Cross-Cultural Experimental Analyses on Tax Morale

Tax evasion is a large and growing problem in almost all countries (Murphy’s 2012 report “Closing the European Tax Gap”estimated that “tax evasion in the European Union is approximatively € 860 billion a year”). This problem is particularlyextreme in Southern European countries as Italy, Spain and Greece. Recent experimental and survey analyses revealedthat individual’s intrinsic motivation to pay taxes is not only influenced by tax rates and audit probabilities, but also by socialand cultural norms. Designing effective policies for reducing tax evasion thus requires understanding the behaviouralaspects of tax compliance decisions. The previous experimental analyses on tax compliance were mainly carried out in theCentre-North of Italy (Milan, Bologna and Rome) and assumed the taxpayer as an isolated individual. My proposedresearch, entitled “Cross-Cultural Experimental Analyses of Tax Compliance” (ChEATAX) will innovate by taking a broaderperspective on tax morale from the perspectives of both geography and level of analysis. In this way, ChEATAX canadvance knowledge by addressing two long-standing gaps in the literature: the North-South discrepancies in Italian taxcompliance, and the impact of social norms and social interactions on tax morale. To isolate cultural effects as a factor in taxcompliance, this aim will be pursued by collecting survey and laboratory data in Italy and Denmark, respectively representingSouthern and Northern European societies, and in the South and the North of Italy to capture disparities in Italian taxcompliance. The outputs of this project will help understanding how different countries can establish and foster cooperationwith taxpayers to enforce tax compliance.

Further information: Alice Guerra


The page was last edited by: Department of Business and Politics // 04/22/2022