Research & Projects

Research interests

My research interests are in comparative political economy and public policy. In particular, I focus on the following research fields:

  • The political economy of labour markets with a special emphasis on the role of organized interests and the policy fields “job security regulations”, “working time regulations” and “skill formation”
  • Business-government relationships with a special focus on financial secrecy, tax avoidance and international tax competition
  • The historical development of the Swiss political economy (in particular the early tax state and political reform)
  • Neo-institutionalism and theories of institutional change
  • Social science methodology

Ongoing research projects (selection):

The adoption of personal income taxation in Swiss cantons

In this project, I am collaborating with Lucas Leemann (University College London) and André Walter (University of St. Gallen) to analyze the adoption of personal income taxation in Swiss cantons in the period 1830-1980. For this purpose we are creating an original dataset, which is a lot of work! We are still at the data collection stage but I think we will soon be able to run some models with the newly collected data. The project is generously funded by the University of St. Gallen’s research commission.

GOVPET: Governance in vocational and professional education and training

This large project analyzes the governance of collectively organized skill formation systems (together with Carmen Baumeler (EHB Zollikofen), Giuliano Bonoli (University of Lausanne), Lukas Graf (University of St. Gallen) and Christine Trampusch (University of Cologne)). Although rather rare, these systems are fascinating because they presuppose inter-firm cooperation and employers that are willing to collective action. In addition, intermediary associations (often business interest associations) play a central role in the administration and reform of these systems. The project is generously funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). Please visit for further information on the project.

State sovereignty, economic interdependence and extraterritoriality

This project has started as an analysis of the demise of Swiss banking secrecy and has resulted in a series of papers (together with Katrin Eggenberger, University of St. Gallen). However, the topic is of course bigger than that. At the core, it concerns the question of how (nation)states can tax internationally mobile capital. Currently, I am developing this project to identify new avenues for research. Among others, I am analyzing (with Paul Marx, University of Southern Denmark) how business is able to sway voters to reject redistributive economic and social policies, but I am also very interested in recent efforts to tackle corporate tax avoidance.

The politics of job security regulations in advanced industrialized democracies 

Job security regulations are, simply put, the rules that govern hiring and firing. Job security regulations in case of workers with open-ended are difficult to reform. There have been numerous attempts in recent decades, but most of them have failed. By contrast, we have seen the deregulation of temporary employment and the proliferation of new contract forms that provide very little security to workers. Together with some colleagues, I have coined the term “dualization” to describe these developments. This (long-standing) project of mine looks at the politics of job security regulations in advanced industrialized democracies and aims to explain both cross-national variation in the level as well as recent reforms of job security regulations.

The effect of labour market disadvantages on political behaviour

Together with Paul Marx (University of Southern Denmark) and Dominik Schraff (formerly University of St. Gallen, now ETH Zurich), I analyze the consequences of negative labour market experiences (e.g. unemployment or low-wage work) on political involvement, in particular political interest, political participation and voting behaviour. In addition, we are trying to identify policies that could mitigate the negative effect of negative labour market experiences on political behaviour, in particular among the young.

Can foreign firms promote socially responsible business practices?

In this project, I am analyzing with Nikhar Gaikwad (Yale) and Oliver Westerwinter (University of St. Gallen) whether multinational companies have the capacity to make companies in developing countries change their business practices. Currently, we are collecting data.

The gender sensitivity of European asylum policies

Do the asylum policies of European states consider the special needs of female refugees? In this project, I am working together with Katarina Stigwall (University of St. Gallen) to examine differences in the gender sensitivity of European asylum policies. Currently, we are collecting data.

The adoption of proportional representation in Switzerland and beyond

In this project, I am working together with André Walter (University of St. Gallen) to explain the adoption of proportional representation in Switzerland and in Swiss cantons.