Junior Research Group 'European Civil-Society'

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PhD Projects of the 2nd Kohorte

Running for Europe - Active Civil Society: Enhancing European Integration?
European Union and Global Health: A Governance Issue for European Civil Society
Interregionalism, the Third Sector and New Forms of Governance
Voluntary Organisations in new Governance Arenas

Projects of the 1st Cohort

Integrating Civil Society Actors from CEE Countries on European Level: Problems and Perspectives
The Corporate Social Responsibility of Companies in Poland
The EU and organised civil society in the Visegrad countries
The Europeanisation of the Third Sector - The Effects of EU Influence on German and Hungarian Organisation in the Field of Youth Policy

„Running for Europe - Active Civil Society: Enhancing European Integration?“

(working title)

 Freya Elisa Brune is working on this PhD project. The European Union as a state sui generis is facing a variety of criticism regarding its democratic legitimization. In order to antagonize its deficits and to bring its citizens and the Union closer together, to convey a better understanding for the EU and its institutions, different civil society projects have been launched and supported by EU financial grants during the last years.

Furthermore, increasing individualization within society can be observed. High mobilization, a great ethnic diversity within national states and following a decrease of trust in fellow men, causes a hunkering down of individuals. Group- and network-building can countervail this trend. As various social capital Theorists point out, such networking can enhance the individual profit as well as profit of the institutions or the whole state.

The central topic of the dissertation deals with the question, to which extent the EU civil society programs can contribute to the furtherance of social capital and, thus, the reduction of democratic deficits. Additionally, on the basis of example projects, and qualitative as well as quantitative surveys of participants and organizers, the thesis wishes to work out to what degree those projects meet EU requirements und whether or not the above mentioned goals can be reached.

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„European Union and Global Health: A Governance Issue for European Civil Society“

(working title)

The PhD project by  Alexia Duten questions the position and the possible agenda setting power of civil society organisations (CSOs/NGOs) in regard of the Global Health issue. Global Health problems are a consequence of the intense intertwining of modern societies and shall be addressed by such global players as the EU. They represent, for example, intense spread of diseases, both known and tropical, due to the acceleration of travel and/or a westernisation of lifestyles (see e.g. the exponential increase of diabetes, lung cancer, etc.). The thesis will tackle following interrogations: How does a global issue get onto the European agenda? What role do NGOs play? What is the nature of the relations taking place between the different policy-making actors within the EU? Is there a pattern for pushing specific issues onto the agenda- what are the lessons learned of similar policy fields such as environmental policy?

In order to analyse the approach NGOs take when pushing the Global Health issue onto the European Agenda, this project will examine the nature of the relations between NGOS and institutional policy making actors, as well as the emergence at the European level of NGOs lobbying for Global Health altogether. Therefore, interviews will be held- interrogating not only NGOs leaders but also representatives of EU institutions such as of Directorates General, the Council or the European Parliament. The results, underlining very different sensibilities to lobbying, will shed light, thanks to the Global Health issue, on agenda setting capacities of NGOs as actors of EU policy making.

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„Interregionalism, the Third Sector and New Forms of Governance“

(working title)

 Jenny Lind Elmaco is working on this PhD project. At present, there is a dearth of studies that examine how interregional Foundations influence governance. Conversely, the question on the emergence of New Regionalism and its effects on the Third Sector has not been thoroughly examined. Though there exists both an academic and policy interest to scrutinize how the interaction between government structures and civil society on an interregional level, the theoretical literature on this particular aspect of the question is especially weak. At the same time, the thesis does have practical implications. The relation between civil society and new forms of governance is an issue of high priority not only for the possibility of building efficient and democratic institutions of governance at all levels of civil society. But, how does the non-profit sector, operating transnationally, influence governance? Policy wise, the answer to this question is crucial. However, in both academic and practical NGO literature, there remains a dearth of practical advice for policy makers on how to design and implement democratic levers that take into consideration the interregional networks that currently exist.

The main research question guiding this study is: How do interregional networks taking the form of Foundations create, affect, alter or influence new forms of governance in the context of EU external relations? The study aims to do this by developing existing analytical tools in order to enhance our understanding of civil society and multilevel governance. Drawing on theories of New Regionalism, and theories of civil society, a conceptual framework is constructed. This framework will be used to answer the research question: - Are interregional Foundations innovative actors in European society with an ability to affect social and policy change? -What do interregional Foundations contribute to the political and social landscape of the European Union? - What are the challenges and merits that result from the inclusion of interregional Foundations operating in an inter-regional level, in new concepts of governance? The research calls for a holistic, in-depth investigation and this is the reason why a case study is ideal. A protocol for the case study will be created which will include an overview of the Asia Europe Foundation, field procedures for the research to be conducted in the External Relations Office of the EU and the headquarters of the Foundation as well as the on-site interviews , case study questions and a guide for the case study report. Multiple sources of data will be used in order to create a triangulation of evidence. Following Sayer's model of intensive research, I seek broader analytical insights rather than statistical generalizations from the case study. My methods will therefore be primarily intensive and qualitative rather than extensive and quantitative.

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„Voluntary Organisations in new Governance Arenas “

(working title; updated May 2009)

The PhD project of Christoph Golbeck focuses on the role of voluntary organisations (VO) within new Governance Arenas. Special attention is given to the ongoing discussion on social services of general interest (SSGI).

Lately VOs are seen of an increased importance due to a strong influence of Europeanization. Within new governance arrangements VOs are more and more incorporated in the delivery of social services on nearly all political levels. This is especially true in terms of the ‘welfare mix’ as described by Adalbert Evers (2004). But also the EU sees an increased incorporation of the Third Sector as highly adorable, due to the often emphasized goal of increasing efficiency and effectiveness of European public policies. However, contrary to that newly risen awareness towards VOs there is very little research done on their actual use and function in Multilevel Governance.

From that angle the PhD project carried out by Christoph Golbeck will contribute to a better understanding of the Third Sector’s role within newly created governance arrangements. In particular, the project attempts to answer the following questions: How do voluntary actors contribute to a more efficient and effective regulation of European Multilevel Governance? What influence has the ongoing economisation of social policies for the voluntary identity of VOs? How do VOs see their new role as Governance players at the European level? In what way do both quality and quantity of social services change when non-governmental and non-elected actors increasingly shape policy settings?

The project will be carried out as comparative study focusing on NPOs from Germany and England and using semi-structured expert interviews conducted on the macro level.

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„Integrating Civil Society Actors from CEE Countries on European Level: Problems and Perspectives“

(working title)

 Kristina Charrad is working on this PhD project. Every enlargement before the biggest one in 2004 was followed by a rise in the amount of interest organisations on the European level (Kohler-Koch et al. 2004). The enlargement of the EU on 1st May 2004, with 10 new countries joining the EU, was the biggest enlargement in history and has, as such, transformed the European political arena. Now, is the amount of interest organisations significantly rising? Are the civil society actors from the new member states able to integrate themselves at European level to represent their interests? How are they integrated after one year of membership in the EU in the interest groups’ scene on European level – are they able to participate in decision-making process?
Her thesis focuses on the involvement of civil society actors from Visegrád countries (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republik and Slovakia) in the decision-making process on European level, and develops hypotheses on the strategies and difficulties of civil society actors from the new post-socialist member states and their role of European governance.
Specifically, my thesis sets to answer these main questions: What forms of interest representation at the European level do civil society organisations from Visegrád countries choose? How integrated are the actors from CEC in formal and informal Brussels networks and forums influencing EU policy-making? This analysis will be approached by the method of network analysis, drawing conclusions from actors and their embeddedness in central or peripheral positions.

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„Das soziale Engagement von Unternehmen in Polen“

(working title)

Das Promotionsvorhaben wird von  Dominik Sopart bearbeitet und untersucht die Finanzierung zivilgesellschaftlicher Strukturen in postsozialistischen Staaten. Internationale Vergleiche von Non-Profit-Sektoren zeigen, dass die Zivilgesellschaften in den neuen EU-Mitgliedsländern noch schwach entwickelt sind. In der wissenschaftlichen Auseinandersetzung mit diesem Phänomen wird auf die destruktive Rolle des Staates hingewiesen, dessen Apparat – noch immer durch das sozialistische Erbe belastet – die zivilgesellschaftlichen Strukturen in ihrer Entfaltung hindert. Dagegen wurden bislang kaum der Einfluss der noch jungen mittelosteuropäischen Marktwirtschaften und der Beitrag ihrer Akteure zur Etablierung von Zivilgesellschaften untersucht. Nachdem die Europäische Union erste wirtschaftspolitische Weisungen an europäische Unternehmen gerichtet hat, mehr soziale Verantwortung und Engagement zu übernehmen, wurde das Thema soziale Verantwortung von Unternehmen in Polen zum Gegenstand einer gesellschaftlichen und wissenschaftlichen Debatte. Erste Studien zur corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Polen zeigen deutliche Unterschiede zwischen polnischen und ausländischen Investoren, was das Ausmaß der Übernahme von CSR betrifft. Während die ausländischen Unternehmen sich durchaus engagiert zeigen, müssen sich die polnischen Unternehmer den Vorwurf des fehlenden Patriotismus gefallen lassen. Die Untersuchungen gehen jedoch nicht auf die Motive der Entscheidungsträger in Unternehmern ein, sodass eine Antwort auf das „Warum“ ausbleibt.

Im Rahmen des Promotionsprojektes soll analysiert werden, inwieweit die Motive von Entscheidungsträgern durch national unterschiedlich ausgeprägte Unternehmenskulturen beeinflusst werden. Hierzu bietet der Varieties of Capitalism-Ansatz geeignete theoretische Erklärungsmuster an, wurde aber in dem Zusammenhang noch nicht angewandt. Gemäß dieser Theorie gehen Unternehmen die Herausforderungen des internationalen Wettbewerbs mit Strategien an, die sich an den verschiedenen nationalen volkswirtschaftlichen Rahmenbedingungen ausrichten. So entstehen auch beständige, national unterschiedliche Corporate Governance-Konzepte und Unternehmenskulturen, welche die Motivationen der Entscheidungsträger in Unternehmen wesentlich beeinflussen. Die ungleiche Wahrnehmung der sozialen Verantwortung von polnischen und ausländischen Unternehmen kann daher auf die verschiedenen Marktwirtschaftsmodelle, sowohl Polens als auch der Herkunftsländer von Investoren, zurückgeführt werden. Um diesen Zusammenhang zu untersuchen, sollen an einem bedeutenden Wirtschaftsstandort in Polen Entscheidungsträger ausgewählter Unternehmen nach ihren CSR-Motiven und ihrer „unternehmenskultureller“ Herkunft befragt werden. Die Untersuchung soll in Form einer standardisierten qualitativen Umfrage erfolgen.

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„The EU and organised civil society in the Visegrad countries“

(working title)

 Gudrun Eisele is working on this PhD project.
The EU is taking interest in fostering organised civil society, which for multiple reasons is an attractive partner for European governance. This PhD project asks for the role that is being attributed to civil society in the context of European governance. It analyses how this is reflected in EU support for organised civil society in the Central and Eastern European new member states.
This PhD project will contribute to a systematic enlargement of academic knowledge on EU support for organised civil society. It will offer conclusions on the role of organised civil society in the governance frame of the enlarged Union.

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„The Europeanisation of the Third Sector - The Effects of EU Influence on German and Hungarian Organisation in the Field of Youth Policy“

(working titel)

The influence of the European Union on third sector organisations is the focus of   Birgit Sittermann’s PhD project. The EU gains influence in more and more policy fields and thus changes the working environment of these organisations. Furthermore, the EU is a potential provider of funding for their work e.g. through the structural funds. The question is how third sector organisations choose to deal with it and whether the European dimension has importance for them at all. Like other research undertaken under the heading of Europeanisation my research tries to contribute to answers to the broader question of how the EU influences the national level and might cause changes.
Starting from the European level this research will trace the significance of the European issues to the national level by doing interview-based cases studies on organisations in the field of social affairs, especially those third sector organisations concerned with children and youth. The field of EU youth policy is one of those policy fields where the Open Method of Co-ordination is applied including its typical feature of civil society involvement on the national level. Furthermore, in the year 2005, EU youth policy gained prominence in the process of relaunching the Lisbon Strategy – especially by the adoption of the European Youth Pact.
To acknowledge the different challenges for organisations from “old” EU-member states and organisations from the EU-Members from Central- and Eastern Europe, the research for this PhD project is conducted in Germany and Hungary.

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Nachwuchsgruppe "Europäische Zivilgesellschaft und Multilevel Governance"
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