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New grants from Independent Research Fund Denmark

Five researchers at the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences share in the grants that Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF) has just distributed.

Independent Research Fund Denmark provides support for researchers who have the opportunity to immerse themselves in an original research idea.

Four grants are going to researchers at SDU’s Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, while another researcher is participating in a project at the University of Copenhagen. Get an overview below.

Recipients of DFF Research Project 1 – Social Sciences

Michael Baggesen Klitgaard, professor at the Department of Political Science and Public Management, receives DKK 2,591,424 for the project “Enter Donor Groups: Analyzing the Impact of a New Class of Political Groups”.

Project description: The number of Danish think tanks has grown over the past two decades, when several political parties have also set up organisations that open the door to politicians and ministers once they give a financial donation. In addition, new lobby groups and networks invest selectively in individual political issues. The common characteristic of these organisations is that they donate or invest their way to political influence, while traditional interest groups gain influence by representing someone. Research into interest groups gives us a lot of knowledge about the influence of traditional groups on politics, but no knowledge about the new groups. Do they have real influence on politics and, if so, how do they gain it? This project introduces a new theory to answer these questions. The theory establishes a distinction between donor groups and member groups, where donor groups are expected to be particularly active and successful in political areas with low voter interest. When political decision-makers can disregard short-term voting considerations, they have greater freedom to produce policies in accordance with donor groups’ wishes. The argument is tested in detailed analyses of tax policy decisions in Denmark, Sweden, England and the United States since the 1980s.

Olivier Schmitt, associate professor at the Department of Political Science and Public Management, receives DKK 1,222,330 for the project “Learning from Afghanistan: Tacit Knowledge and Military Practices in Western Armed Forces”.

Project description: This project investigates the unprecedented knowledge that built up during the war in Afghanistan in three domains (civil-military relations; the strategic value of large, land-based military interventions; cooperation between allies) and its influence on military practices. Existing literature has investigated the “explicit knowledge” built up during the war in Afghanistan through studies of tactical changes, arms procurement and doctrine, but no study has focused on how the war’s many practices created tacit knowledge in the various armed forces and, conversely, how this knowledge influenced military practices. It is important for both scientific research and public debate to investigate how military organisations understand these practices. Critical studies of the factors that create military practices are important for the democratic debate on the use of military power, especially now that Western military operations continue in the Middle East and North Africa. This project will make a major contribution to the literature on military transformation by showing how a practical knowledge-based theoretical mechanism creates military change, which will overcome the opposition between innovation, adaptation and emulation that dominates the research field.

Recipients of DFF Research Project 2 – Social Sciences

Chiara de Franco, associate professor at the Department of Political Science and Public Management, receives DKK 4,608,702 for the project “Protection Complexity: How EU, UN, and AU practice protection of civilians [PROTEX]”.

Project description: Research increasingly illustrates the international community’s ability to protect civilians from abuse and acts of violence. So far, research has overlooked the importance of the complex international protection system in which a constellation of actors, institutions and legislative frameworks operates with different definitions of who protects, who is protected, the basis for providing protection, as well as the length of the protection period itself. PROTEX is an innovative comparative project which theorises this protection system using a bottom-up approach. It links theories on protection systems with international practice theory and provides new insights into how protection arises as a configuration of intra- and inter-organisational practices and is provided in practice, including its impact on international collaborations. The project is based on the different protection practices employed by the European Union, the United Nations and the African Union in Mali, the Central African Republic and Somalia, and illustrates what these actors actually do (and don’t do) to protect civilians.

Philipp Ager, associate professor at the Department of Business and Economics, receives DKK 4,489,096 for the project “Institutions of Care: The Role of Early Childhood Investments for Historical Development”.

Project description: This research project will investigate the economic impact of day care centres, such as kindergartens and nurseries, in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. Using data from the USA, we will consider how the roll-out of kindergartens in the period 1880-1910 (known as the Kindergarten Movement) affected the demographic transition in US cities. We will also evaluate whether kindergarten children were better prepared to go to school and better at managing other challenges later in life. The project will contribute to debates as to whether kindergartens can support the integration of immigrant children and reduce the number of crimes. The project can also speak to whether better access to day care institutions stimulates women’s participation in the labour market.

Partner in DFF Research Project 2 – Humanities

Marie Kolling, postdoc at the Department of Marketing & Management, receives more than DKK 1.8 million, which is SDU’s share of a grant of DKK 5,777,998. It is associate professor at the University of Copenhagen Atreyee Sen who is in charge of the project “After money, what is debt?”: Indebted urban poor households in emerging cashless economies”.

Project description: Cashless transactions are becoming more and more widespread, a tendency supported by the development of new financial products, technologies and policies. This project aims to investigate the socio-economic impact of this turn towards a cashless society. Based on the latest anthropological research in debt and digital economies, we will investigate how poor urban families whose income base depends on cash and credit act in the transition to cashless economies. The project is carried out with empirical case studies in Europe (Denmark, Romania), Latin America (Brazil) and Asia (India), respectively. The project will: (a) investigate how poor urban households are challenged by the transition to cashless economies; (b) explore the new skills and competences households develop; and (c) theorise how these changes affect local perceptions of money, as well as debt practices and social relations in the city.