Seven new research projects to NUPI
Exciting new research on topics ranging from energy and climate, cyber security and vulnerable states will be done by NUPI in the coming years. Seven new research projects have won funding from the Research Council of Norway. A total of 260 applications were funded, in fierce competition with over to thousand applicants.
The funding awarded to NUPI shows that NUPI´s competence is in demand and very relevant. It also shows that our strategy of strengthening our research in certain areas is to the point. The projects that have been awarded funding will do research in important areas that are central to Norway and in international politics in this turbulent world.
A high number of applications were submitted from NUPI this year, and even though not all of them were successful in securing fundng, we are very proud and grateful for the effort from all our applicants.
Here are the seven projects from NUPI that were awarded funding from the RCN this year:
Understanding Oil Producers' Responses to the Renewable Energy Transition (OPRET)
The global transition toward renewable sources of energy like solar and wind, combined with increasing adoption of electric vehicles, poses serious challenges for countries that rely on the production of oil. The principal consequence of the energy transition – long-term decline in demand for oil – will over time reduce both the revenue that oil producers collect and the amount of oil they produce. Declining revenue will affect oil producers' ability to distribute patronage to political supporters, provide jobs and a generous welfare state to citizens, and make investments in public goods such as education and infrastructure. These trends have the potential to undermine citizens' economic well-being, the country's economic growth, and ultimately policymakers' own political survival. Governments may be able to guard themselves against these negative consequences by engaging in adaptation policies. These can include diversifying the economy, investing in human capital, or finding alternative sources of revenue, such as levying taxes or investing in sovereign wealth funds. We focus on several factors that drive variation in the extent to which producers pursue these adaptations. First, we expect the degree of adaptation to depend in part on the cost of oil production. All else being equal, producers for which producing oil is extremely costly are at a competitive disadvantage relative to producers for which the cost is lower, and are likely to adapt sooner. Second, countries with greater bureaucratic-administrative capacity are more capable of adapting, as they are better positioned to collect revenue from citizens, administer and enforce enacted policies, and afford and distributed public and targeted goods, despite opposition from vested interests. Third, producers who already had diversified economies prior to becoming major producers should be more capable of adapting, owing to weaker vested interests in fossil fuels.
The pulling power of Paris (PullP): Unpacking the role of ‘pledge & review’ in climate governance
Will the Paris Agreement (PA) succeed in getting states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? PullP will explore the conditions under which the PA is more or less likely to "pull" states to increase their ambitions in climate policy. While most international agreements are limited by their lack of robust enforcement mechanisms, the PA compensates for this by relying on states to submit pledges - Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) - and subjecting them to a pledge & review mechanism (P&R). Proponents argue that the P&R can shape the institutional and social environment of action to "pull" actors, changing their behaviour irrespective of their initial preferences. PullP will investigate whether the PA indeed has that "pulling" power. Our main research question is: What are the effects of the Paris Agreement’s P&R mechanism on the contents of NDCs? To answer this question, we will: i) assess the effects of P&R by evaluating changes in the level of ambition of NDCs over time, creating a dataset covering pledges made by states in the runup to and in the first two phases of the Paris Agreement (2010-2021), and enabling statistical analysis of ambition change ii) investigate the conditions under which P&R can be expected to affect state behaviour, comparing it to review systems in other domains of international politics and developing a typology of P&R governance arrangements. iii) identify the causal mechanisms by which P&R affects behaviour by employing process and practice tracing methods to analyse the way states engage in the Paris P&R. PullP's multi-layered and multi-method empirical strategy will allow the project to identify and trace the effects of P&R on the political dynamic of climate governance, and assess whether such P&R elements can be further strengthened in future global governance arrangements, providing potential advice for policymakers. Outcomes and impacts
Strengthening Fragile States through Taxation
State-building requires predictable income, and domestic taxation is the essential component. In the absence of an autonomous domestic revenue base, the many necessary activities that states are expected to perform and that the international community attempts to assist fragile states in fulfilling – such as protecting borders and the population, providing justice, and delivering basic services – become impossible. We argue that the missing piece in the statebuilding puzzle is domestic revenue, and the only way this can be raised is through institutional procedures for domestic taxation. The research challenge is that we remain in the dark concerning how political rule in fragile states work, and under what circumstances other actors inside or outside the state, undermine or explicitly challenge the tax administration of the state. This leads us to ask the fundamental question: Why do some countries succeed in building functional tax regimes and others not? FRAGTAX’s point of departure is that state-building and taxation cannot properly be studied without making inquiries into the conditions of political authority. Our response to this challenge is to therefore analyse how the political authority to tax is established, exercised and maintained over time. To explain variation in why some states are more successful in building functional tax regimes than others, FRAGTAX has selected three cases with varying forms of political authority over fiscal capacity and taxation: Liberia, Mali and Tanzania.
Partners in this project are CMI (Odd-Helge Fjeldstad), ARGA (Mali, Abdoul Wakhab Cisse), Mzumbe University (Tanzania, Prosper Ngowi), and Platform 4 Dialogue and Peace (Liberia, James Shilue).
Cyber security, knowledge and practices (CYKNOW)
With the rapid digitalization of modern societies, exploitation and attacks on digital networks is also surging. As a result, the security of digital systems, or cybersecurity, has become a priority for states and globally. Governments have recognized that protection of digital critical infrastructure and functions is a key national security task, as states increasingly weaponize digital code to intrude into one another’s networks. Still, decision-makers struggle to fully understand and comprehend the threat, and similarly face challenges when designing strategies and means to prevent, mitigate and respond to attacks. Familiar security frameworks and measures, such as defense and deterrence, appear outmoded in the rapidly evolving digital world. This knowledge gap is mirrored in the social science, where dominant theories and models treat cybersecurity as something objectively given, rather than the result of a sociotechnical process. As a consequence, cybersecurity remains academically elusive. This project will help fill this gap through a novel analytical framework that combines social science and technology studies. The aim is to explore how the digital threat landscape is understood among policy makers and engineers alike, how this knowledge is conveyed between them, and how particular cybersecurity policies and practices emerge as a result.
Shocking times for European economic integration
This project establishes new cooperation between four important research institutions in Germany, UK, Netherlands and Norway, focusing on European economic integration. International economic integration has become more complex and comprehensive over time, but research lags behind and there is uncertainty about measurement and economic impact. Recently, the shocks of Brexit, Trump and Covid-19 have created new challenges and knowledge needs that the project aims to address, also exploiting new data created by these disruptions. The project aims to improve measurement and methods in the analysis of international economic integration. Organised in three works packages, WP1 will collate, compare and evaluate existing metrics on trade agreements, and deliver improved measures to be used in the project. Using disintegration to characterise the nature of integration, WP1 will also map changes in integration due to Brexit. WP2 analyses the impact of economic integration for countries and regions, using state of the art structural gravity and large-scale numerical models in tandem with empirical analysis to shed light on the economic impact of economic integration and the recent steps towards disintegration. WP2 will also shed light on the uneven impact of international economic integration across domestic regions; along with updated evidence on regional disparities in Europe. WP3 uses unique firm-level data for the four countries to examine the interaction between trade in goods, trade in services and international investment, thereby filling important knowledge gaps in research on integration. The results will provide evidence on the impact of Brexit and other trade policy changes, as well as the transition of European value chains for goods and services. Aiming for publications in high-quality journals and wide dissemination of results, the project aims to present novel and independent research guiding policy and research on important issues for the future of Europe.
Reactions to state regulation of Islam in times of Daesh: compliance, collaborative autonomy, resistance (STATEISLAM)
How do religious institutions balance political attempts at nationalization of Islam, efforts by the state to control them, and their legitimacy before their followers? What factors determine the responses of the Ulama — the Muslim clergy — both to political pressures and to their congregation’s expectations? Our project explores the renegotiation of state-religious relations with a focus on Sunni Islam in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia since 2014. We do so by examining Muslim clerics’ responses to state regulation of religious practice, through use of semi-structured field interviews and participatory observation informed by our extensive background research. Existing studies present the Muslim clergy as civil servants with no agency, or focus on Islamist groups. Our project, STATEISLAM, aims to shift the study of Islam and politics away from the prism of radicalism that has dominated the literature since 1979, and towards a perspective on Islam and state-building. Our project will examine the agency of Muslim clerics, both male and female, as brokers and implementers of the state religious polices. Our methodological and conceptual approaches take into account clerical interests and strategies, and also the changing expectations of the congregation. We categorize the attitudes of religious clerics to state regulation of Islam, ranging from compliance, to collaborative autonomy, to passive and active resistance. We ask which factors explain the variations in these attitudes. We will gather thick descriptions of how the Ulama discuss their own strategies, by means of interviews, participatory observation, and compare mechanisms at the macro-, state-, congregational-, and individual levels. The attitudes of clerics to sensitive issues in moments of high volatility has considerable influence on the efficiency of state religious policies, and it will shape the future of state-religious relations and the political legitimacy of Middle Eastern states.
Tax Compliance in Tanzania: The Role of Trust and Norms (competence and collaboration project, headed by CMI)
The project Tax Compliance in Tanzania: The role of Trust and Norms has been granted funding from the Research Council of Norway. The overall objective is to address the challenge of mobilizing more domestic revenue in Tanzania by generating knowledge about businesses’ voluntary tax compliance and its determinants. The project will be implemented in collaboration between CMI, Institute of Tax Administration, the Norwegian Tax Administration, REPOA, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Dar es Salaam, and Zanzibar Revenue Board. Odd-Helge Fjeldstad (CMI) will lead the project. “
More information about this years grants can be found on this page. The research council of Norway has also issues a press statement with quotes from the Minister for research and higher educationHenrik Asheim and Director of RCNMari Sundli Tveit.