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Representative Government through Democratic Governance

Project description

Public administration and democratic values

Does public administration reinforce the values of representative government? Why and how? The ERC-funded REPGOV project presents a unified normative and positive theory of how institutions and practices both should and do reinforce democratic values. Theory building draws on democratic theory and formal models of politics. A mixed-methods empirical strategy qualitatively explores the mechanisms of value reinforcement in various administrative settings in contemporary Europe, employs machine learning to explore the syntax of value reinforcement in laws and regulations, and experimentally examines structured choices about reinforcing values. REPGOV illustrates how the democratic value trade-offs made by public administrators are a missing link in contemporary discussions about the quality and nature of representative government.


How does representative government function when administrative policymaking has the authority to reshape democracy? The discretion that modern governments give to unelected officials, who have policy preferences themselves, not only captures the means for implementing policies, but also the authority to make tradeoffs among important democratic values to promote the outcomes they desire. REPGOV aims at exploring how governance structures shape the way officials make democratic value tradeoffs. REPGOV’s mixed-method design, scale, and scope have the potential to recast the study of public administration into more richly democratic terms, and to make unique and significant contributions to the study of political philosophy, institutions and behavior. The project has four main objectives. First, it will develop a unified theoretical approach grounded firmly political science and allied disciplines that explains why and how governance structures reinforce the values of the representative government by shaping officials’ belief systems. Second, the project grounds theory into practice through rigorous qualitative research into the way that formal and informal institutions shape belief systems. Third, through state-of-the-art machine learning methods, REPGOV will construct an important database that captures democratic values in laws and regulations and conduct large-scale observational tests of the relationship between institutional politics and the democratic values in delegated authority. Fourth, through survey and laboratory experiments, REPGOV will examine the effect of formal and informal institutions on officials’ democratic beliefs


Net EU contribution
€ 2 477 902,50
Calle ramon trias fargas 25 campus de la ciutadella
08005 Barcelona

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Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)