Political Organization and Multi Level Governance

Relevant Approaches for Master Theses

Potential themes and problem statements for master's theses

If you are a student considering writing a Masters thesis on a theme relevant to our research group, we encourage you to contact specific group members directly for a conversation. The research group has had positive experiences having master’s students writing on a topic related to one of our current projects (for a list of current projects see here), but this is, of course, not required.

The most important considerations in selecting a topic are that you write on a theme that is academically relevant and which is of interest to you personally.


Here are some examples of relevant themes for master theses within our research group. Current projects with research group member names are also listed with potential themes where relevant.


Research field/theme

Central dimensions, key words, and sectors

Examples of problem statements

The relationship between politics and administration

Political control versus professional autonomy; the role of the ministries: loyalty, neutrality and professional independence; internal and external devolution; formal and informal power; parliamentary involvement in government decisions and minority governments


Current research projects: COCAL, Administrations survey 2016, Local democracy survey 2015

  • Top bureaucrats versus political advisors: recruitment patterns and functions
  • The ministries: from professional administration to Political Secretariat?
  • Party politicization and ministerial decision making: the meaning of government policy platform declarations
  • Definitional struggles and inter-ministerial tensions: development of a new policy for the northern regions
  • Homeland security in Norway: bipartisan identity on goals and means?

The relationship between EU bodies and national administrative entities at the central, regional, and local levels

Trans-nationality; control, regulation, and supervision; supranational directives versus national sovereignty: juridification of policy; national representation in supranational bodies; transnational technocratization or intergovernmental interest exchange.


Current research project: Administration survey 2016

  • National representatives or autonomous experts? A study of Norway’s involvement in the European Banking Authority
  • Lost in translation? Implementation of the EU Directive in Norwegian municipalities
  • Norway and the EU: Outside and inside?
  • A nascent Nordic union? Nordic government representatives’ interactions at the EU-level


Studies of innovative coordination initiatives across organizational, sectorial, and administrative levels

Digitalization, coordination, project and network governance, NOU 2015:13. Digital vulnerability. Lysne-commission

  • Big data in NAV: A study of a pilot project
  • Digital control and how private actors affect the reform agenda
  • Organization of state lobbying in the market – a case study of the Norwegian Vinmonopolet
  • A solution for coordinating the fight against criminality in the workforce? A study of the ”Lime-case”

Studies of reforms in the public sector



Organizational change: What, how, and why; implementation; agenda-setting; centralization-decentralization; top-down versus bottom-up; ideas, fashion, and reform trends; examples of actual reforms: municipal reform, local police reform, regional reform, KMD ”time thief” project.


Current projects: COCAL, SOG-PRO, Reshaping the Map of Local and Regional Self-Government, Baseline assessment

  • Post-NPM in Norwegian central administration: New ideas or new packaging?
  • Which channels do municipalities use to obtain access to central decision making arenas?
  • On organization of technical operations in Norwegian municipalities: fashionable ideas on display?
  •  Perspectives on the municipal institution and local democratic control. How is this evident in national reforms?

The relationship between state and municipality

National control versus local democracy and autonomy; State supervision; Municipal self-determination


Current research projects: Reshaping the Map of Local and Regional Self-Government,

Local democracy survey 2015

  • Advice and guidance, or orders and demands? How state advisors in homeland security and education can be understood and applied in Norwegian municipalities
  • Which channels do municipal politicians use to influence the state?
  • The regional reform: National and local processes

Political participation

Representativeness, political parties, and recruitment; Output democracy


Current research projects: Evaluation of efforts on reduced minimum age for electoral participation in municipal elections,

Local democracy survey 2015

  • Hiring and dismissal of state secretaries
  • Who are the Norwegian elected officials, actually?
  • Carrier paths of parliamentary politicians
  • Recruitment and shifts of municipal elected officials: Norway and Europe
  • Representation roles among local elected officials: Norway and Europe
  • Mayor carriers: Norway and Europe
  • Local politics as a springboard for national political carriers
  • Voting rights among 16 and 17 year-olds

Public policy and administration

What is the relationship between policy (substance) and administration (structures and procedures)?


  • Energy policy in Norway: what characterizes the relationship between state and industry, and what role do regulatory bodies have?
  • Oil fund (Norwegian pension fund) and its connection to the governmental apparatus

The regional level

County governor, regional coordination, control versus advising, the counties


Current research project: Reshaping the Map of Local and Regional Self-Government

  • Towards a more coordinated central administration? A study of the ministries letters of allocations to the county governor officials 1995-2015
  • The fragmented state: Why do state agencies have so many geographic subdivisions?

The municipal reform

Force versus voluntarism; local democracy; election versus citizen surveys, municipal self-determination; centralization-decentralization; governance capacity-governance legitimacy


Current research project: Reshaping the Map of Local and Regional Self-Government

  • The municipal reform: National and local processes
  • The role of the county governor in the municipal reform: the long arm of the government or the protector of the municipalities?
  • Why did Norwegian municipalities choose referendum, while others chose citizen surveys?
  • Disagreement nationally, but agreeing locally? A study of party political attitudes at the local level

The Police Reform

Local police-Emergency police; Centralization and decentralization; Governance capacity and legitimacy; Local police and emergency police; Coordination and specialization;

Comparison with Sweden


Current research projects: COCAL, Baseline assessment

  • Relationship between the police and the Norwegian armed forces. Aid instructions
  • Implementation of the local police reform: POD in tension between political control and professional semi-autonomous police districts
  • Fusion of police headquarter offices and local police offices
  • Analysis of data from police baseline assessment
  • Towards more cooperation with the municipalities?
  • Towards more cooperation with the other emergency services?
  • Localization of new headquarters and competence centers

Case studies of disasters and crises

Prevention; crisis management; learning; evaluation, investigation and inquiry committees; blame-games; cooperation and coordination; cross-sectorial problems; cyber-security


Current research project: GOVCAP

  • Do the directorates play a role?
  • Blame games and political accountability: A comparison of the political aftermath of July 22 and Kings Bay
  • Citizens and civil society’s participation in local crisis management

Organization of immigration policy

Vertical coordination between Norway and foreign countries, between ministry and directorate, between state and municipality; Horizontal coordination between ministries; Multi-level governance; Governance capacity and legitimacy; ”Wicked issues”; Comparative studies with Sweden


Current research project: COCAL

  • The immigration crisis: Towards a more restrictive immigration policy. Driving forces and counter-forces.
  • Reforms in the immigration administration. A study of the relationship between integration and regulation of immigrants

Organizing for climate change

Vertical coordination between Norway and foreign countries, between ministry and directorate, between state and municipality; Horizontal coordination between ministries; Multi-level governance; Governance capacity and legitimacy; ”Wicked issues”; Comparative studies with Sweden


Current research project: COCAL

  • NOU 1915:16 Over Water. The Ministry of Climate and Environment’s role as a supra-ministry.
  • The Role of the Environmental Ministry




*Examples are hypothetical and intended only to illustrate various potential problem statements for a Master’s Thesis