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Research projects

The research in Public Administration is rooted in both research collectives and single individuals within the group, who often are a part of a research network or a bigger cross-organizational research project.

The research group is aiming at generating strong research collectives, where several of the scholars from the group will be collaborating on a research project. These collective research projects will in the long run determine the group's research profile.  

Collective research projects

Head of Research: Kurt Klaudi Klausen

Researcher working on the project: Jesper Asring Jessen Hansen, Signe Pihl-Tingvad

The project examines the decentral management in municipal institutions which takes care of primary education, daycare and the elderly. The hypotheses are that the perception that leadership is dependent of structural / institutional conditions such as the structure of management thinking in each individual municipality, as well as conditions concerning tradition (path dependency) and vocational profession (culture) and that these perceptions change over time. 
The study revisits two similar research projects, by Kurt Klaudi Klausen, one in 2004 (together with Carsten Strømbæk Petersen og Johannes Michelsen) and again in 2010 (together with Dan Bonde Nielsen and Johannes Michelsen) and will hold three sub studies: a number of focus group interviews; a national survey examining the structure (as perceived by chief executives) and a national survey concerning management (perceptions amongst leaders of decentralized institutions).  The study also contains plans on conducting a qualitative study of municipal management on a specific topic i.e. development and implementation of strategic initiatives.
The project will contribute to the substantial literature concerning public management and literature which engages in the interplay between management and profession, especially management of employees with a vocational education.


Head of  Research: Ulrik Kjær
Researchers working on the project: Sune Welling Voigt and Robert Klemmensen

In the last three municipal elections in Denmark (in 2005, 2009 and 2013), a survey among voters in the municipalities has been conducted after each election, and a new survey is under preparation for the upcoming 2017 elections. The surveys are used to publish internationally on a range of topics relating to (local) elections, as well as for an edited volume on local elections written for journalists, political parties, scholars and the mayors and councilors themselves, with contributions from scholars of local elections from research institutions around the country.

Project manager: Signe Pihl-Thingvad, Head of Section and Associate Professor tel. +45 6550 2281, e-mail

 Participants in the project: Associate Professor Sune Welling Voigt (SDU), Associate Professor Vera Winther (SDU), Student assistant Michelle Schelde (SDU), PhD student Jesper Asring Jessen Hansen (SDU), PhD student Christoffer Florczak (SDU), and in various degree other researchers from the PA section. Associate Professor Lis Holm (UCL). Head of office for HR and Development Birgitte Stenderup (Esbjerg Municipality) Senior consultant Peter Hillerup (Esbjerg Municipality).

Project description:

Sickness absence in Denmark is a significant socioeconomic issue with potentially negative consequences for both the individual employee and for the organization as a whole (Danmarks statistik, 2013; Johansen & Lynge, 2008; Gustafson & Marklund, 2011; Beskæftigelsesministeriet, 2008). Sickness absence is connected to several factors, including factors that are not directly related to the individual employee’s health, but rather the workplace (Lund et al., 2007; Lund et al., 2009; Alexanderson & Norlund, 2004). The psychological work environment contains a number of these factors, and many studies have proven that there is a connection between psychological work environment and sickness absence (e.g. Lund et al., 2006; Blank et al., 2008). Existing research indicates that both sound management and a good psychological work environment (for example in the form of high social capital in the organization) have a positive effect on sickness absence (Murayama et al., 2012; Hasle et al., 2010; Olesen et al., 2008; Kawachi, 2006). However, empirical evidence to support these hypotheses is still missing, as are also systematic empirical studies of what sound management is when you wish to reduce sickness absence in the public sector.

The collective research programme ‘Leadership, psychosocial work environment and sickness absence’ focuses on the connection between management, psychological work environment and sickness absence in a larger Danish public organization – Esbjerg municipality. The project builds on several thorough quantitative data sets that have been collected since 2013 in Esbjerg municipality. The project incorporates the data on psychological work environment and social capital in Esbjerg municipality collected among employees at every organizational level with 360-degree management reviews of all managers at all levels in Esbjerg municipality (in both surveys with samples of more than 7,000 respondents). These data will be correlated with data from the municipality’s registered sickness absence, as well as an extensive study from 2016 on the causes of sickness absence (with sample sizes of approx. 3,000 respondents). Furthermore, Esbjerg municipality will, in the future, collect new data on management, psychological work environment and sickness absence, which will also be included in the project.

The research programme is expected to deliver a significant empirical contribution to the existing research within public management, psychological work environment (including social capital, public service motivation, policy alienation and innovative work behavior) based on a unique database. Furthermore, the programme will also contribute with highly relevant knowledge on how public organizations can work to create a good psychological work environment and reduce sickness absence.

The programme will run from 2017-2021.

Other research projects within the section

The Danish Local Democracy Study (DADE) is a long-term research project which currently is in its early stages, and which aims at studying local democracy using data covering an extended period of time. DADE is to some extent a continuation of the project Size and Local Democracy (Kommunestørrelse og Lokaldemokrati) and the Research Program on the Structural Reform (Forskningsprogrammet om Strukturreformen), both coordinated by Prof. Poul Erik Mouritzen. The main focus of the project is to study the importance of polity size for local democracy, using as case the large-scale municipal mergers agreed on and implemented in the years 2005-2007 in Denmark.

DADE will be based on quantitative data consisting of register data on the Danish municipalities combined with surveys of citizens in the municipalities collected over a time period since the turn of the millennium, with surveys conducted in 2001, 2009 and 2013, respectively (containing both independent cross-sectional and panel data), and with an ambition to continue the data collection in the future. The project is managed by Ulrik Kjær and Sune Welling Voigt and it is the ambition to recruit researchers from various research institutions to contribute to the project. The project has so far resulted in a few working papers which have been presented at conferences in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Morten Kallestrup is a member of the management committee of the EU-financed COST action (CA15207) ”Professionalization and Social Impact of European Political Science”. The COST action aims to create a network of political scientists and political sociologists involved in the comparative study of higher educational systems and the internationalization of research in the field of political science. The research aim is to assess whether and how European political science has a social impact at national level. The other Danish member of the management committee is professor Christoffer Green-Pedersen, Aarhus University.

Civil service reform is a central component of anti-corruption aid. Yet, reformers lack robust evidence and flexible instruments to gauge the effectiveness of distinct civil service designs in curbing corruption in developing countries. In part as a result, reforms overwhelmingly fail. By examining the impact of civil service practices in key areas - recruitment, dismissal, pay, training and integrity management - on corruption, clientelism and bureaucratic performance, this project provides both new evidence and a practical toolbox for future use by DFID and its partners.

Drawing on a global network of scholars and practitioners, the project combines comparable survey experiments with public servants and qualitative case studies in 10 developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Through empirical, methodological and theoretical innovations, this global research is providing the most robust and nuanced actionable policy recommendations for the design of civil service systems to reduce corruption in developing countries to-date.

The project is conducted by  Kim Sass Mikkelsen and funded by the British Academy and DFID (Department for International Development) under the BA/DFID Anti-Corruption Evidence Partnership.

A large number of countries have implemented performance-based university research funding systems (PRFSs) that make the government’s distribution of resources to universities dependent on ex post evaluations of research output. This is also the case in Denmark where the so-called Bibliometric Research Indicator (BRI) took effect from the fiscal year 2010. Some evidence of this type of systems having an impact on the quantity and quality of publications produced does exist. However, only very limited empirical research has been undertaken to investigate the effects of PRFSs on the targeted researchers’ motivation, behaviour, and performance. This postdoc-project will contribute substantially to our knowledge of the consequences of PRFSs at the level of the individual researcher by addressing the research question: What are the consequences of the BRI for Danish researchers’ motivation, behaviour, and performance (qualitatively and quantitatively)? With inspiration from Motivation Crowding Theory (MCT), the project’s main hypothesis is that the consequences of the BRI for Danish researchers’ motivation, behaviour, and performance will be contingent on to which degree the individual researcher perceives the system as supportive or controlling. The analysis is based on quasi-experimental one-group pretest-posttest design.


The project is  conducted by Niels Opstrup and funded by the Carlsberg Foundation.















Last Updated 16.02.2024