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Democracy and governance

The focus of NIBR's democracy and governance research is the local level, relations between central government and municipality, and between central government and civil society.

We study the organisation and distribution of tasks and responsibilities in the public sector and evaluate democracy-promoting programmes and pilot schemes in Norway, the eastern members of the EU, the Western Balkans and Russia, Africa, Asia and Latin-America.

NIBR's democracy and governance research embrace

  • organisation and administration in the public sector, multi-level governance
  • municipal structure and organisation and local service production
  • decentralisation and distribution of tasks and responsibilities between central government and municipality
  • political participation, democracy-promoting measures and pilot schemes, new technology
  • challenges to democracy in a multi-ethnic society including migration and indigenous peoples' rights
  • role of civil society organisations in popular mobilisation and policy making
  • global governance structures and their implementation nationally and locally

We study issues pertaining to democracy and governance in Norway and in Africa, Asia and Latin America .

NIBR's researchers have specialist expertise on the organisation of the public sector and its effect on political participation, political control, policy and distribution of responsibilities and tasks. The institute is in charge of maintaining the Organisation Database - a repository of information on municipal organisation.

Knowledge of the municipal structure and local organisation is used to study the implementation of major public reforms such as the Mental Health Action Plan, Child Welfare Administration Reform and Qualifications Boost. Studies of organisation and governance cross several policy areas, but focus in particular on health and welfare, environment and climate.

NIBR's research into democracy and participation explores women's participation in politics and civil society, participatory bodies of children and adolescents and user involvement in public service delivery. Researchers also study democratic dilemmas, such as those connected with decentralisation and autonomy on the one hand, and central governance, surveillance and control on the other.

NIBR has performed several evaluations of democracy-promoting pilot schemes, including the Resident Initiative Scheme and the Electronic Voting Scheme that was tested in the autumn 2011 elections.

Researchers at NIBR have conducted several studies and evaluations of the design and effects of Norwegian aid on decentralisation reforms, strengthening local democracy and civil society in countries receiving Norwegian development aid.

We have been especially concerned to study the impact of reforms on the poor and excluded groups.

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