My research focuses on institutions that aim to build policy consensus among stakeholders and others with differing knowledge, interests, and values, especially in the Scandinavian context. I primarily study institutions that have no formal or informal decision-making authority, but provide informed recommendations to policymakers. In my published research, I use various methods including game theory, statistical models, and lab and survey experiments.
In my thesis (SSRN: Voice without a Veto) I use the EITM (Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models) methodology to develop and test a theory of advisory commissions. I show that advisory commissions have institutional features which are particularly suited for building consensus among a diverse group of stakeholders. I propose two reasons why diversity can increase agreement. First, ideologically diverse parties from a variety of backgrounds can produce a greater variety of policy-relevant knowledge, increasing the valence of a proposal. Second, in a diverse commission, a proposal without broad appeal will lead some commission members to issue dissenting opinions, which reduce the government’s willingness to follow the majority recommendation.
To test my model’s predictions, I use a novel, hand-collected data set of 2,705 Swedish commissions of inquiry that completed their inquiries between 1990 and 2018. Swedish governments appoint commissions for all significant legislative initiatives, so the data minimize selection bias. As the theory predicts, I find that increasing stakeholder representation in broadly representative commissions increases consensus.
Together with my Swedish colleagues, I have published results from my data in a policy brief for SNS (Centre for Business and Policy Studies) (SNS Research Brief 59 ) and in an article in Scandinavian Political Studies (May 2021). The political implications of the results have been discussed in a debate article and editorial in the Svenska Dagbladet (third largest daily in Sweden) (SvD debate article Oct 10 2019 SvD Editorial Nov 25 2019). These articles discuss the importance of commissions of inquiry as an antidote for political polarization. I also have several working papers and publications, which are listed on my academic CV and can also be found on my Google Scholar page.