New publication in Theory and Society

Great news. Theory & Society just accepted my paper “Agency in Historical Institutionalism: Coalitional Work in the Creation, Maintenance, and Change of Institutions”. Here is the abstract:

Institutionalism gives priority to structure over agency. Yet institutions have never developed and operated without the intervention of interested groups. This paper develops a conceptual framework for the role of agency in historical institutionalism. Based on recent contributions following the ‘coalitional turn’ and drawing on insights from sociological institutionalism, it argues that agency plays a key role in the creation and maintenance of social coalitions that stabilize but also challenge institutions. Without such agency, no coalition can be created, maintained, or changed. Similarly, without a supporting coalition, no contested institution can survive. Yet, due to collective action problems, such coalitional work is challenging. This coalitional perspective offers a robust role for agency in historical institutionalism, but it also explains why institutions remain stable despite agency. In addition, this paper forwards several portable propositions that allow for the identification of who is likely to develop agency and what these actors do.

New postdoctoral researcher

Great news! Anna Wilson will join the GOVPET team @ HSG soon. She obtained one of the prestigious International Postdoctoral Fellowships and will continue her research on the training and hiring behavior of firms in collective skill formation systems. I am excited to welcome her in St. Gallen!

New publication in BJIR

The British Journal of Industrial Relations just accepted our paper “New Interest Associations in a Neo-Corporatist System: Adapting the Swiss Training System to the Service Economy”. Here is the abstract:

Collective skill formation systems need to adapt to economic change, most notably the expansion of the service economy. However, deeply anchored in the craft and industrial sectors, these systems rely on neo-corporatist institutions to undergird firms’ training provision, which are often missing in the service sector. We show that Switzerland’s voluntaristic approach to interest intermediation provided the flexibility needed to extend vocational training to economic sectors without neo-corporatist institutions. Yet, these adaptations resulted in the emergence of interest associations characterised by low levels of generalisability and governability. These new associations co-exist with neo-corporatist ones, rendering the overall training system surprisingly heterogeneous.

New publication in JoPP

Good news. The Journal of Public Policy just accepted the paper “Direct Democracy, Coalition Size, and Public Spending” (co-authored with Lucas Leemann and André Walter) for publication. Here is the abstract:

This article contributes to the literature on direct democracy and public spending in two ways. First, we explore how direct democratic institutions interact with a specific aspect of the representative system, the size of the governing coalition, to influence public spending. Second, based on newly collected data, we examine the relationship between three different direct democratic institutions, coalition size, and public spending over the period from 1860 to 2015. Empirically, we find that initiatives increase the size of the public sector under single-party governments, but this positive relationship disappears as coalition size increases. In contrast, we find that financial referendums slow down the growth of public spending, while law referendums are not systematically associated with public spending. Finally, we find that the relationship between direct democratic institutions, coalition size, and public spending does not change over time despite the long period under investigation.

Socio-Economic Review Impact Factors (2019)

Good news from Socio-Economic Review. The 2019 Impact Factor for SER has risen to 3.774 (2018: 3.328). With this score, SER remains in the top 10% of the ranked journals in political science, sociology, and economics. More precisely, SER ranks 6th in Sociology, 11th in Political Science, and 34th in economics. The 5-year Impact Factor is now at 5.176.

New Publication in EJPR

Good news. The European Journal of Political Research has accepted our manuscript “No Direct Taxation Without New Elite Representation: Industrialization and the Domestic Politics of Taxation” (co-authored with Lucas Leemann and André Walter). Here is the abstract:

The 19th century marked the founding period of modern public finance. We examine the domestic and non-war related determinants of direct taxation in this early democratic period and in a state building context. We argue that the reasons for the expansion of direct taxation can be found in the political competition between different elite groups in the context of industrialization. Systematically differentiating between economic and political arenas, we show that intra-elite competition in industrializing economies leads to higher levels of direct taxation only if the new economic elites are able to translate their economic power into the political arena, either through the representative system or by extra-parliamentary means. In addition, we demonstrate that these processes are directly linked to public investments in policy areas related to the interests of new economic elites such as public education. Our analysis is based on novel subnational data from the period 1850 to 1910, enabling us to concentrate on the domestic determinants of direct taxation.

Webinar: Politik nach dem Lockdown

HSG-Webinar zum Thema: „Politik nach dem Lockdown: Was bedeutet die Corona-Krise für die grössten politischen Baustellen der Schweiz?“

7. Mai 2020, 15 Uhr (Schweizer Zeit)

Mit dem Ausstieg aus dem Lockdown kehrt auch etwas Normalität in den politischen Alltag zurück. Damit sieht sich die Schweizer Politik wieder mit den Baustellen konfrontiert, die bereits vor der Krise viel Kopfzerbrechen bereitet haben. Wie soll es weitergehen mit der Reform der Altersvorsorge, dem Kampf gegen den Klimawandel oder den Beziehungen zur Europäischen Union? Wie wird die Corona-Krise die Lösung dieser politischen Herausforderungen beeinflussen? Diskutieren Sie zusammen mit Prof. Dr. Patrick Emmenegger

Bei Interesse können Sie sich auf folgender Seite für das Webinar registrieren: LINK


Two new PhD positions

In the context of the research project “Governance in Vocational and Professional Education and Training” (GOVPET), funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, the Department of Political Science at the University of St. Gallen invites applications for

two PhD positions (50%)

in the research group of Prof. Patrick Emmenegger. The research project investigates how socio-economic megatrends such as digitalisation and globalisation impact the governance of skill formation systems and asks questions such as how do skill formation systems need to adapt in order to be competitive in the knowledge economy. For more information on GOVPET, please visit


  • Development and conduct of own PhD project in the framework of the overall research project
  • Participation in the Department’s doctoral programme, which offers advanced methodological and substantive training as well as professional development


  • Master degree in political science, sociology, economics or a related discipline
  • Strong ability and motivation to pursue an academic Career
  • Interest in theory-driven empirical research on topics of skill formation systems, labour markets and political institutions
  • Knowledge of qualitative or quantitative Methods
  • Good command of one Swiss national language and English, both spoken and written

The position starts in July 2020 (or upon agreement) and is for a period of three years, with the possibility of extension for up to two years. The salary aligns with the directives of the University of St. Gallen and amounts to about 42,000 CHF in the first year.

GOVPET is a collaborative project of the University of St. Gallen (Prof. Patrick Emmenegger), the University of Lausanne (Prof. Giuliano Bonoli), and the University of Cologne (Prof. Christine Trampusch). The PhD candidates will be integrated in an international research team.

Applicants should send their full application (in German or English) – including cover letter, CV, letter of motivation, examples of their academic work (e.g. their MA dissertation or seminar papers), copies of relevant certificates and the contact details of two academic references – to Prof. Patrick Emmenegger ( no later than 22.3.2020. For further inquiry, please send an email to Prof. Patrick Emmenegger.

New publication in JEPP

The Journal of European Public Policy just accepted our paper “The Limits of Decentralised Cooperation: The Promotion of Inclusiveness in Collective Skill Formation Systems?” (with Giuliano Bonoli) for publication. Here is the abstract:

This paper examines how collective skill formation systems balance economic objectives related to competitiveness and socialobjectives related to inclusion. Based on a simple theoretical model, we argue that there are clear limits to how much inclusiveness governments can achieve in collective skill formation systems. Firms are generally successful in resisting pressure by governments to be more inclusive because they benefit from their structural power in collective skill formation systems. Therefore, most pro-inclusiveness policies in such training systems do not require any firm-specific involvement. If pro-inclusiveness policies involve firms, employer associations typically participate in their development, trying to align the goal of inclusion with the economic interest of employers. Our two-level game model helps to understand this complex interaction between governments and firms. Empirical examples substantiate our expectations. They show how important it is to consider both levels simultaneously when analysing inclusion-oriented training policy reforms.