Antje Ellermann


Research Classification

Research Interests

Migrations, Populations, Cultural Exchanges
Migratory Flows
Public Policies
Identity and Transnationality
Role of Governments and Institutions
Comparative Public Policy
Migration and Citizenship

Relevant Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters


Research Methodology

Qualitative Research


Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows

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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2021)
The politics of subsystems: agenda management and policy change in education (2018)

Why is the policy status quo more resilient in some contexts than others? What are the conditions by which policy instruments can be transformed, in lieu of other degrees of change? I argue that the properties of policy design institutions have played an important role in determining the degree of policy change during recent reforms of public education in Germany and France, following from ‘PISA shocks’ in each country. The OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a cross-national comparison of education systems that revealed unexpectedly poor results for Germany in 2001 and France in 2007. The subsequent (and surprising) policy change outcomes can be explained by examining sector-specific policy design institutions (i.e., policy subsystems). It is from analysis of subsystem politics in the education sector that I begin to develop an agenda-management model of policy change. More specifically, I found that the existence in Germany of a stable, consensus-oriented institution for education policy design – what I call a policy oligopoly – was critical for managing the reform agenda and for facilitating a transformation of policy instruments in lieu of greater or lesser forms of change. Furthermore, the existence in France of a conflict-ridden subsystem – an unstable monopoly for policy design – resulted in a disorderly reform episode and eventually the obstruction of many of the proposed policy changes. The research involved a comparative process tracing of educational policy-making in Germany and France, involving 58 participant and expert interviews and an intensive analysis of primary documents and secondary materials. From this evidence, I describe different types of policy change involved in each case, explain the connection between subsystem politics and forms of policy change, and evaluate the plausibility of this agenda-management model when compared to more conventional explanations, such as policy internationalization or partisan-politics. The dissertation makes a number of contributions to the literature on change in public policy. It provides a novel account for how and why certain policy-making regimes facing acute external pressure can significantly change the instrumental logic of policy yet retain aspects of the political and policy status quo, while other regimes fail in this regard.

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Rough Peace: Understanding the Avoidance of Armed Conflict in Bolivia (2016)

Why and how does peace persist in some contentious political contexts, but not others? I argue that certain forms of locally embedded governance institutions can play an important role in mitigating the likelihood of armed violence. Specifically, I find that inclusive communities equipped with governance institutions capable of resolving collective action problems—which I refer to as “Ostromian communities”—are, under a range of conditions, less likely to engage in armed conflict with other communities or the state. The research employs a method of process tracing on the basis of 70 participant and expert interviews, primary document collection and analysis and other archival research in the primary case of contestation over coca eradication in the Chapare region of Bolivia from 1982 until 2004. First, I illustrate how the coca growers’ federations constituted an Ostromian community. Second, I show how the federations’ inclusive political institutions encouraged and enabled high levels of coordinated and contentious non-violent political activity, but stopped short of armed resistance. This outcome resulted despite a repressive state presence in the region and regular instances of violence directed against the community occurring over a period of more than two decades. The dissertation makes several contributions to the civil conflict literature. It provides a novel explanation for why and how some countries at risk of civil conflict—such as those with unconsolidated political regimes or limited state capacities—tend to persist indefinitely in a state of rough, yet durable peace, while others experience conflict.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2020)
Diversity and inequality? An analysis of multicultural policies and immigrant economic integration in Europe (2019)

Best practices regarding methods of immigrant integration remain inconclusive within the literature. Previous research has come to divergent conclusions regarding the role of multiculturalist policies on different types of integration; multiculturalism has been linked with increased sociopolitical integration, while other scholarship deemed multiculturalism detrimental to socioeconomic outcomes. None of this literature, however, examines the effects of these policies on strictly economic concerns and most are restricted to the comparative analysis of a small number of cases. This study attempts to fill this empirical gap by examining the relationship between multicultural policies and economic integration — specifically, are multicultural policies (as opposed to assimilation) effective or detrimental to the economic integration of immigrants in Western Europe? Further, this study seeks to determine the role of multicultural policies on immigrants from non-Western countries of origin, given multiculturalism’s commitment to affirming the cultural difference of immigrants and minorities. Do multicultural policies have a stronger positive effect on immigrants from non-Western countries as opposed to immigrants from within Europe or North America? Drawing on rounds 1 to 6 of the European Social Survey and the Multicultural Policy Index, this study uses regression analysis to assess economic integration outcomes over a ten-year period in 16 European countries. It operationalizes economic integration through dependent variables such as income decile, occupational status, and employment status. It finds that multiculturalism is associated with increases in economic integration. Furthermore, when immigrants are examined heterogeneously based on cultural difference, the results suggest multicultural policies have greater effects on those who display higher levels of cultural difference; namely, non-Western immigrants. Moreover, the multicultural policies of accommodation such as affirmative action and dress code exemptions are found to be linked with more pronounced economic integration outcomes for non-Western immigrants.

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To Reform or Not to Reform: China's Hukou Reform at the Local Level (2016)

The Chinese government has issued a series of directives of hukou system reform. However, the strength and depth of the hukou reforms at the local level differ greatly across localities. Some local governments refused to reform, while others implemented local reforms either radically or conservatively. Among those that reformed local system, some decided to suspend or alter it and others continued. Thus, the paper asks what accounts for the variance of hukou system reforms across localities. Specifically, the research question is two-fold: 1) regarding the initiation of reforms, why some local governments implemented radical hukou reform, others partially reformed their hukou policies, and still others did not carry out the reform, and 2) as for the maintenance of reform, why, among those that pursued hukou reform, some decided to suspend or alter it while others continued. The paper adopts the comparative case study method and delves into three cases: Zhengzhou, Hohhot, and Fenghua. Different from existing literature that focuses merely on either incentives or disincentives of local hukou reform, this paper brings the political factors in and argues that it is local leaders’ political decisions based on different degrees of pressure of urbanization from upper level governments and different levels of policy adjustability to costs that cause such divergence. What’s more, I contend that the variance of the adjustability to expected costs leads to different outcomes in maintaining hukou reforms.

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Crossnational Divergence in Post-OPEC Embargo Energy Policy: Foreign Policy Capacity in Germany and the United States (2012)

This thesis explains the origins of the differing domestic energy policy regimes in the United States and Germany. Using historical process tracing, the author argues that policy diverged following the 1973-74 Energy embargo. This crisis allowed space for considerable policy innovation in the two nations, but Germany was able to carry out far more extensive domestic reforms. The author argues Germany had a much greater incentive to pursue these often costly policies thanks to its limited foreign policy capacities. This hypothesis is tested using a methodology derived from Alexander George and Andrew Bennett’s work on case studies and a theoretical model based on Terry Karl and Paul Pierson’s analysis of critical junctures and path dependence. The United States, by contrast, was able to execute a solution based on securing external supplies. The thesis concludes by exploring the implications for contemporary energy policy.

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