Funded projects

Current research projects

The superior goal of the project is to set sustainable development impulses for digitalised public services in selected rural regions in order to improve everyday life in rural regions and to ensure equivalent living conditions. The further development of the digital public infrastructure in rural areas is understood in the context of this project not only as a technical, but also – and especially – as a political-administrative, social, cultural and an economic challenge. The added value of the project is extant in the merging of two current strands of reform: the debate about digital innovations in the state and administration and the discussion about start-ups, social entrepreneurs and universities as innovation actors, especially in structurally weak, rural areas. Against the background of the ongoing public debate about the creation respectively guarantee of equivalent living conditions in Germany, the project has not only high economic, but also political and social relevance.

The purpose of the bilateral project is to develop a conceptual framework, which can act proactively as an enabler and driver of progress within the public administration. The originality of the framework is based on the following improvements, enabling an innovative measurement of public administration management/governance models and principles, previously not achieved: 1) taking into account more than 100 elements of administrative organization as suggested by respected scientific and professional PA literature (items, representing institutional values and objectives, management and strategy, structure and processes, culture, cooperation with the environment, incentives, results, etc.); 2) looking beyond the traditional narrow NPM-led focus of performance measurement systems, consequently encompassing and linking the numerous administrative norms/principles (Accountability, Effectiveness and efficiency, Rule of law, Transparency, Participation, Equity and inclusiveness, Consensus, Responsiveness); 3) assigning adequate importance to these principles with regard to internationally recognized and emerging models of administrative (re)organization (NPM, (Neo)-Weberian state, Good governance, Collaborative governance, Interactive governance, Digital-Era Governance,…), 4) ensuring the adaptability of the framework to different PA segments (e.g. service-oriented and authoritative ones), 5) Providing referential performance values, guiding systematic administrative improvement within the participating institutions, which can also be dynamically adjusted, thereby overcoming limitations of the existing finite-state performance measurement frameworks.

Project Leaders:
Prof. Dr. Tanja Klenk, Prof. Dr. Aleksander Aristovnik

Project Team:
German Team: Simon Bogumil, Benjamin Friedländer, Stefanie Vedder
Slovenian Team: Dejan Ravšelj, Lan Umek
Funding Agency: DAAD

The interdisciplinary junior research group of law and social science shall make a contribution to the investigation of German social jurisdiction as an essential institution in the structure of the social constitutional state and the social politics of the Federal Republic of Germany. The specific legal culture of social jurisdiction is of special interest as it claims to guarantee a low-threshold access to justice, serve the realization of social rights and integrate social interests both through the involvement of voluntary judges and by allowing different interests participate as litigants.

The aim of the junior research group is to develop an interdisciplinary approach for the study of social law and social policy integrating concepts of social science, political science as well as jurisprudence. The interdisciplinary junior research group will focus on three main areas.

Focus area 1 ‘Social Jurisdiction and Social Policy’ deals with the question how the structure and change of social justice can be grasped with the help of jurisprudential, political science and sociological concepts and theories.
Focus area 2 ‘Social Policy Research with Social Courts Data’ will systematically review available statistics on social jurisprudence and evaluate their usefulness for social law and social policy research.
Focus area 3 – ‘Comparing Legal Protections in Welfare States’ will analyze how legal protections in German social law differ from those in other advanced welfare states inside and outside the EU.
On 5-6/7/2018, a workshop of the Junior Research Group “Social Jurisdiction and Social Policy” took place in Kassel. The program and a report of the workshop can be found here.

Fördergeber: German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF), Laufzeit: Jan. 2018 – Dez. 2021, Kooperationsprojekt mit Dr. Nissim Cohen, University Haifa

In the last two decades, the provision of social services in Germany and Israel – as in most European welfare states – has undergone significant changes. Both countries have witnessed the creation of what has been called ‘welfare markets’ with competing providers and clients who can choose among providers in the area of longterm care.
The proposed research contributes to the existing literature by exploring the effects of choice in the provision of social services from a street-level perspective. It asks how and why a choice-based service environment influences the practices and professional identities of street level workers and their managers. By comparing the dilemmas, practices and coping strategies of these actors in two countries – Germany and Israel – belonging to different welfare and administrative regimes, the proposed research analyzes how differences in institutional and organizational settings in choice-based environments may influence the ways how street-level bureaucrats carry out their tasks and use their discretion.

The proposed project is designed as a comparative analysis of the provision of social services in Israel and Germany. Within each country, we have selected the area of home nursing services, which in both Israel and Germany have been exposed to far reaching reforms of marketization, managerialization, and choice.

In terms of methodology, the project follows the qualitative research paradigm with narrative interviews and document analysis as the main techniques for data collection.

Projektleitung: Dr. Nissim Cohen und Prof. Dr. Tanja Klenk
Projektmitarbeit: Maayan Davidovitz und Dr. Sarah Cardaun

completed research projects

The Governance of Social Investment. Conceptions and implementation of social investment policies on the German state level – Learning possibilities and transfer options (Research Institute for Social Development; promoted by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia).
In the past years, ideas of social investment have gained in importance in the German Welfare state which is about to shift from a conservative, passive social transfer state to a more proactive social investment state (SI). In this process of transformation, the German states play a major role by shaping reform policies according to their own ideas. As a result, the underlying ideas in public discourse and implementation arrangements differ widely across the 16 German states.
So far, a systematic review of social investment in the German states is still missing. The project examines, (1) which concepts and types of social investment policies can be found in Germany’s 16 states, and (2) which approaches and instruments are applied on the implementation level to promote the shift towards social investment.
Workshop, Governance of Preventive Social Policy – Challenges of State Control ‘: On 21-22 February 2018, the University of Kassel (Prof. Dr. Schroeder) and the Helmut-Schmidt University Hamburg (Prof. Dr. Klenk) realized a workshop about the topic ’ Social Investment – Governance and Implementation Challenges `
Workshop program
The documentation of the event can be found here

Project leaders: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schroeder und Prof. Dr. Tanja Klenk
Research associates: Alexander Berzel, Maren Stöber

Fördergeber: Danish Research Council, Laufzeit: Jan 2014 – Dez. 2016, Kooperationsprojekt mit Prof. Dr. Karsten Vrangbæk, Universität Kopenhagen und John Appleby, King’s Fund, London.

Recent scientific contributions to the public management literature have developed descriptive frameworks and provided comparative accounts of performance management schemes at the general  level (Bouckaert & Halligan 2008; Bouckaert & van Dooren 2009; Diefenbach 2009). Other contributions are more concerned with developing tools for performance management (e.g. OECD 1997; Murray& Evans 2003). Yet, most contemporary studies take the observed designs for given, rather than seeking to explain why they have developed particular features or assessing how they work in practice (Taylor 2009). This study aims to provide insight into these shortfalls in the international literature by analysing how the general NPM concept of performance management has been translated into specific performance management systems within a particular sector (health care) in three different countries and assessing whether they support core values within a post-NPM setting emphasizing cooperative, participatory and integrated governance.

The specific research questions are: How are performance management schemes applied in health care sectors in Denmark, Germany and England? Can institutional differences within the three health care systems explain the design choices? How can we assess performance management schemes in regard to their ability to support public values in a post NPM setting?

Health care is a particularly interesting case sector for studying performance management. The first reason is that a number of the key issues of the new public governance such as the need for coordination, joined up governance and holistic intervention approaches are particularly important within health care. At the same time health care is characterised by clear articulation of a number of public value concerns for equity, fairness, robustness, efficiency etc. We can thus investigate our theoretical interest in performance management to support public values and changing governance needs. Secondly, it is a sector with a strong medical scientific tradition for measuring clinical performance and a more recent strong push to combine this with administrative performance data to create comprehensive measurement systems. It can thus be considered a “most-likely” case for designing state-of-the-art measurement systems. Yet, at the same time, the complexity and pressures on health care systems make it an informative case for understanding the potential pitfalls and barriers to utilizing such data for integrated performance management schemes. We can thus investigate the boundaries for PM and our theoretical interest in relations between institutional structure and performance management schemes. Within health care we select three country cases (Denmark, Germany and England) to provide variation on important underlying institutional characteristics within a setting of publicly managed health systems in Europe.

Fördergeber: DAAD, Laufzeit: April 2012 – Dezember 2013.

Quasi-markets and managerial steering techniques have spread in the provision of welfare state services and are now a salient feature. The introduction and impact of marketization and managerialism in social policy have been explored by adopting a dual perspective – one on regulation and governance, the other on human resources – covering five fields of social service delivery: education, tertiary education, social care, health care, labour market services.

Welfare governance (for example welfare mix, regulation, employment conditions and customer involvement) has changed significantly in the past decade. In particular, the new governance models not only clash with traditional ideas of bureaucratic regulation but also with the norms and standards of professional service delivery. The fact that the labor force in welfare organizations is made up of ‘professionals’ implies that the introduction of new modes of welfare governance often results in organizational conflicts. These processes have been assessed not only by comparing different policy fields and countries, but also by taking a close look inside organizations, examining the coping strategies of professionals, and how they adapt to new models of governing welfare organizations.

The project has been funded by the DAAD; project leader: Klenk, Tanja & Emmanule Pavolini (University of Macerata, Italy)

Project publication: Klenk, Tanja/ Pavolini, Emmanuele (eds.) (2015): Restructuring Welfare Governance. Marketisation, Managerialism and Welfare State Professionalism. Cheltenham Glos: Edward Elgar.

Social self-administration is a constitutive feature of the democratic welfare state of the Federal Republic of Germany – however, it is not uncontested. During social elections, criticism is regularly voiced against this type of administration in the mass media as well as in scientific circles. This was also the case during the 10th social elections in early 2005 which had a historically low voter turnout. Important points of critique such as the lack of transparency, the dominance of interest groups and the perceived insignificance and ineffectiveness of social self-administration stand against the generally valued principle of participatory governance. Most importantly, though, the debate on the future of social self-administration is led without paying attention to the design of social self-administration institutions in other countries. Neither in legal studies nor in political science, a comparative study on the organizational development and reform of social self-administration comprising several countries can be found.

For the first time, our project has provided a systematic comparison of the development of social self-administration in countries of the European Union in the three following areas of social security: age, healthcare, and unemployment.  Besides Germany, seven other European countries with institutions of social self-administration were included in our study (France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary). By comparing the organizational settings, reforms and reform discussions since 1990, the debate about the future of social self-administration has been provided with a scientific foundation.

The project was funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and jointly realized with Prof. Dr. Frank Nullmeier, University of Bremen, Dr. Philine Weyrauch, and Dr. Alexander Haarmann.


Internationale Konferenz Fördergeber: Universität Siegen, Forschungskolleg „Zukunft menschlich gestalten“ (FoKoS), Laufzeit: Dezember 2012 – Juli 2013,

Economic as well as social forces question the traditional governance of European welfare states and trigger their transformation. Due to economic globalisation, European integration, low growth rates and unemployment, and not to forget the repercussions of the financial crisis of 2008, welfare states face rising functional pressures. In order to cope with tighter public budgets governments have been open for market solutions: economisation and marketisation of welfare governance have developed to a major reform trend. Throughout Europe and across the different fields of social policy the creation of welfare markets could be observed, albeit to a varying extent and with differing timing. The turn to market-based welfare governance comes to light in the field of old age security as well as in health care, long-term care, or unemployment policy.

Next to financial problems which gain much attention in the public as well as in the academic debate, social developments provide formidable challenges, too. As a matter of fact, the socio-demographic characteristics of users and clients of welfare services have changed considerably – and thus suggest the need for encompassing reforms of traditional welfare governance. Two major drivers of social change are brought to the fore in this conference: that is, diversity and mobility. Just as the mobility of capital has increased, so has the mobility of labour. Immigration flows have intensified over the past decades and a coalescent Europe has encouraged vocational mobility. Both developments are part of the cause of increased cultural or religious heterogeneity in European societies. Socio-demographic change of welfare recipients, however, is also a result of augmenting labour participation of women, shrinking birth rates, and an aging society.

To some extent, the social and economic forces outlined above press in the same direction, namely towards an intensified financial pressure. Demands are increasing, while at the same time the relationship between those who fund the welfare state via social contributions and/or taxes and those dependent on welfare benefits is changing. Social heterogeneity and mobility, however, also create particular problems of their own, such as the question of the ‘portability’ of pensions. How to design funding and service provision when classical principals such as the place of work or residence are no longer appropriate? And what does the notion of diversity imply for policy principles in unemployment policy? Further examples for the new challenges resulting from mobility and diversity that the welfare state has to cope with are global care chains or health tourism: how to deal, for instance, with diversity in health or long-term care, when patients and those who care have differing cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs?

Against this background a workshop with international scholars has been organised to discuss the following questions: How are welfare markets governed in a human way, thereby taking increasing diversity and mobility into account? The underlying assumption is that a positive handling of social heterogeneity and mobility provides remarkable challenges, especially for those welfare states which rely heavily on private for-profit service provision. To ensure that welfare markets achieve not only efficient solutions but also solutions which are desirable from the point of view of social policy, an effective regulatory regime is required. A regulatory regime for private welfare provision preventing the typical negative externalities of markets such as restricted access, creaming and cherry-picking, or additional out-of-pocket payments for users, and so forth, includes not only mechanisms to hold private actors accountable, but also a modernised public administration putting welfare market regulation into effect as well as encompassing consumer rights to enable the user of services to claim their rights.

Publication: Klenk, Tanja (Guest editor) (2015): Special issue “The governance of welfare markets – how to cope with mobility and diversity?”, Journal for European Policy Analysis (1) 1, download unter


Letzte Änderung: 5. July 2021