The department’s leading research theme is governance for sustainability. Governance has become a key concept in policy research, where it denotes the departure from old-style government to new forms of horizontal and vertical steering. This generally includes a transition from bureaucratic, centralized top-down policies to new forms of decision-making that are more inclusive, more decentralized, more flexible, less hierarchical, and more complex.
Within this context, we investigate several overarching questions. For example, how effective are modern systems of environmental governance in achieving the transition to sustainability? Which theories can best explain variation in the effectiveness of different forms of governance? How can we scrutinize unintended effects? How does a multitude of institutions that co-exist with an issue area interlink, overlap, and interact? How do unsustainable practices change into sustainable ones? And finally, how can we stimulate innovation in terms of governance approaches?
The EPA department focuses on three main Research themes: Governing under Complexity; Governance Innovation and Institutional Change; and Governance Evaluation (see Research Themes).