All of my research is informed by the actor-centred institutionalist approach to the study of politics. My first book “Staatshandeln ohne Staatsverständnis” (1995) was an analysis of the longer-term continuities of industrial relations policy in Britain, critiquing mainstream policy analysis approaches at the same time. Parallel to this I published a number of articles on various aspects of British and New Zealand politics.
More recently I focused on the role of the Westminster model of democracy in modern democratic theory and empirical democracy research. In 2000 I edited a book on “Regieren in Westminster-Demokratien”.
My 2002 book “Mehrheitsdemokratie und Institutionenreform” develops a conceptual framework for analysing institutional regime changes in modern democracies. This framework is applied in order to explain constitutional reform debates in Westminster systems (Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand). Parallel to working on this book I published articles on theories, concepts and methods in comparative politics.
My latest edited book (with Thomas Zittel) “Demokratietheorie und Demokratieentwicklung” (2004) brings together contributions by Germany's leading political scientists on problems of democratic theory.
My current research agenda consist
1. The Democratic Audit of Germany
Democratic audits are under way in a number of countries. My aim is not only to add another country study, but to develop a set of indicators of democratic quality that may be used in comparative research. Preliminary ideas on this can be found in André Kaiser et al. (2002), The Democratic Quality of Institutional Regimes: A Conceptual Framework, in: Political Studies 50:2, 313-331.
2. Alternation and Inclusion
Electoral systems allow two ways of taking preferences into account in governmental decision-making: first by inclusive government formations (inclusion), second by changes of government (alternation). Alternation and inclusion are inversely related. This project aims at describing this relationship for a large set of established democracies and at analysing what the consequences of different mixes of alternation and inclusion are for policy performance. Preliminary results can be found in André Kaiser (2002), Alternation, Inclusion and the European Union, in: European Union Politics 3:4, 445-458 and André Kaiser (2004), Alternanz und Inklusion. Zur Repräsentation politischer Präferenzen in den westeuropäischen Demokratien, 1950 – 2000, in: André Kaiser and Thomas Zittel (eds), Demokratietheorie und Demokratieentwicklung. Festschrift für Peter Graf Kielmansegg, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 173-196.
3. The Effects of Mixed Electoral Systems
Electoral systems are complex institutional mechanisms with macro effects stemming from transforming votes into seats and micro effects mainly resulting from strategic behaviour by parties, candidates and voters. My aim is to study these macro and micro effects in detail by comparing Germany's Länder electoral systems. These are based in an extremely similar institutional environment, but differ in a number of ways. Some conceptual ideas on this can be found in André Kaiser (2002), Gemischte Wahlsysteme. Ein Vorschlag zur typologischen Einordnung, in: Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft 12:4, 1547-1574.
Territorial organisation of politics in democracies varies on two dimensions. Decision-making power can be given to at least two levels of government (federal state) or to only one such level (unitary state). Implementation powers can be arranged in a more centralised or a more decentralised way. Research on federalism in political science and economics has just begun to get interested in how these two dimensions are related and what their effects are on performance. I start from the assumption that it is not so much federalism but decentralisation that contributes to a positive system performance.
5. Ministerial Resignations in Germany
When and why do cabinet ministers resign? This project aims at testing different rational choice models and contrasts these with the traditional doctrine of ministerial accountability. It is part of a planned international collaboration.