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This multi-disciplinary Initial Training Network (ITN) on Inter-institutional Cooperation in the EU (INCOOP) brings together Universities, professional organisations and high-level officials that all share a long-term interest in a better understanding of the functioning of institutions in the European system of multi-level governance. It started its work on 1. January 2010.

The participating universities:
Maastricht University (coordinator)
Cambridge University
Fondation nationale des Sciences Politiques Paris (Sciences Po)
University of Loughborough
University of Mannheim
Université de Luxembourg
University of Osnabrück
The professional organizations include the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA, Maastricht), DLA Piper (Brussels office) and the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).
1. Recruitment Strategy
All partner universities have recruited pre-doctoral and post-doctoral researchers. At one university problems have been encountered and available money was transferred to Maastricht University and University of Loughborough to recruit additional researchers. Overall, the research fellows settled well within the partner universities and the network was characterized by stability and a high degree of cooperation across all partners.

2. Research Conducted
This ITN aimed to contribute to our understanding of the origins, evolution and effects of institutions by focusing on the cooperative forms of decision- and policy making and by examining how they in turn have an impact on institutional change. The research was grouped around two inter-linked research clusters:
First, we systematically explore forms of cooperation in inter-level, inter-institutional and intra-institutional settings. Second, we conduct research along policy lines in form of case studies. In this vein ESRs and ERs have been recruited to work on research projects falling within these domains (for details please see the INCOOP website:

Three PhD projects were completed and successfully defended within the duration of this ITN. These PhDs came from the University of Luxembourg, the University of Mannheim and the University of Maastricht. A majority of the ESR and ER published widely within the domain of inter-institutional cooperation, also within top journals within the field such as the Journal of European Public Policy.
It is remarkable that researchers published with each other within the network (across the boundaries of Universities) and with their supervisors.

Research fellows have presented their work at International Conferences all over Europe and beyond. They also have made active use of the INCOOP network by presenting joint panels and papers. These are just some examples: the UACES Conference in Cambridge (in September 2011), EUSA Conference in Baltimore (May 2013), and the Graduate Network Conference, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany (March 2012).

The fact that we had visiting scientists from the EU institutions was very helpful as they were able to comment first hand on the research projects and some were very dedicated to the network. The members of the supervisory board also took their task seriously and gave very useful feedback and input.

Progress within the Training Programme
To realize the objectives of this ITN, the training programme was built up around three components:
1. An academic training programme consisting of seminars on ‘Theories and Concepts’ and seminars on ‘Research Methods’;
2. A complementary skills training;
3. An internship programme.

During the life-span of the project, we held four workshops on theories and concepts as foreseen in the contract. The topics covered, reached from “Inter-institutional cooperation in EU external relations and across pillars” to “Theoretical approaches to the study of institutions”. Two workshops were held on research methods where topics such as how to conduct qualitative interviews were covered.

A dedicated skills training programme was organized along side each workshop. Here topics such Drawing up Policy Briefs and How to attract research grants were examined. It is noteworthy that young researchers organized an extra Skills Training workshop in Brussels in June 2011 for all ESRs and ERs, where issues such as taking the Concours were covered.

To sum up, the training programme covered all the issues foreseen in the contract (sometimes in a slightly different order) and even went beyond these. Where relevant, research fellows did an internship in order to get first hand information for their PhD thesis, for example in the European Commission, the European Parliament or the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).

The expected final results
The expected final results include at least one more PhD defense before the summer break of 2014 (University of Maastricht). A special issue of a journal (European integration online papers) will bring together some of the insights of the ITN and has been agreed with the editors of that journal.

The main insights were also presented to an external audience at the dissemination colloquium held in Brussels in October 2013.