University of Gothenburg

Theme 3: Contextual characteristics

Successful collective action is also determined by a variety of contextual factors, including social norms, political culture, economic development, and third-party characteristics – the latter being particularly important in the case of regulated large-scale collective action, LSCA.

These factors vary depending on which actor we have in mind; for example, a contextual factor might affect the behaviour of a firm or an individual, or the presence of a corrupt government may simultaneously be an actor-specific characteristic of a state. Contextual factors affecting states’ behaviour include global markets, various types of international regimes, and the presence of a political authority beyond the state, such as the European Union.

Projects within Theme 3:

The overall objective of this project is to produce a conceptual paper on how to understand the relationship between governance and successful large-scale collective action. While acknowledging the severe challenges posed to the success of large-scale collective action, this paper focuses on the complex set of institutions that regularly lower uncertainty and shape and constrain human interaction, in turn facilitating large-scale collective action. Among other things, it shows that research on large, complex systems can inform existing research on governance and institutional theory.

Participants: Martin Sjöstedt (Department of Political Science, UoG) and other interested CeCAR scholars.

Theme: 3 and 5

This project focuses on the issue of social control and states’ varying abilities to broadcast power over its territory. It uses transnational wildlife management in Africa as a case, providing ample grounds for developing and testing theoretical claims about social control and institutional dynamics. We argue that wildlife management is ultimately an issue of political order and social control, reflecting basic questions about access to public authority, about whose preferences over wildlife institutions will dictate policy, and, consequently, about who will gain and who will lose. Empirically, the analyses build on unique primary data, surveys, and interviews.

Participants: Martin Sjöstedt (Department of Political Science, UoG), Aksel Sundström (Department of Political Science, UoG), Sverker Jagers (Department of Political Science, UoG), Amanda Linell (Department of Political Science, UoG).

Theme: 3

The transition to a low-carbon economy will require drastic changes in most sectors, including energy, transport, agriculture, and various forms of manufacturing. Financial and political capital for achieving this is limited. Massive resource infusion and coordination between state and market actors are needed to develop and diffuse alternative technologies. This makes wise policy design imperative. Focusing on market and investment risks, we offer a conceptual framework that explains why no silver bullet policy or theoretical approach exists in regard to decarbonisation. Our framework also aids in the key task of matching problems and policies, thereby facilitating judicious use of resources and optimised climate benefits from resources spent.

Participants: Markus Johansson (Department of Political Science, UoG), David Langlet (Department of Law, UoG), Olof Larsson (Department of Political Science, UoG), Åsa Löfgren (Department of Economics, UoG), Niklas Harring (Department of Political Science, UoG), Sverker Jagers (Department of Political Science, UoG)

Theme: 2 and 3

Several of the most severe problems of environmental degradation that the global society face today, such as climate change, biodiversity loss and the rapid exploitation of natural resources, are due to lack of large-scale collective action. Hence, there is a demand for third-party intervention in order to achieve what can be described as regulated large-scale collective action. At present, there are a plethora of different types of environmental policy instruments, where some are more suitable in certain area and other more appropriate in other fields. However, the policy instruments that experts prefer and promote are not always the ones most appreciated by the public. So far research has mostly focused on certain instruments and has not successfully been able disentangled the effects of different kinds of trust on the support for/acceptance of certain instruments. Furthermore, there are other potential contextual factors that need to be investigated. In this research project we try to further scrutinize previous findings by studying how institutional and cultural factors explain policy preferences in different countries. The data used is a combination of cross-national surveys and data from the Citizens Panel provided by the Laboratory of Opinion Research.

Participants: Niklas Harring (Department of Political Science, UoG), Sverker Jagers (Department of Political Science, UoG), Dragana Davidovic (Department of Political Science, UoG), Andreas Nilsson (Department of Psychology, UoG) Thomas Sterner (Department of Economics, UoG), André Hansla (Department of Psychology, UoG), Emma Ejelöv, (Department of Psychology, UoG) 

Theme: 2 and 3

Antibiotic resistance is a multilayer large-scale collective action dilemma. Individual patients may request antibiotic therapy, but an overall reduction in antibiotic use is necessary to limit resistance. Likewise, physicians may sometimes be tempted to circumvent guidelines regarding prescriptions of antibiotics, in order to sustain trustful doctor-patient relationships. Thus, to limit unnecessary use of antibiotics, there is an urgent need for steering of antibiotic use, legitimate both in the eyes of patients and physicians. Making use of a hypothetical scenario experimental approach, one paper explores antecedents of support for steering among both patients and physicians. Since variation in antibiotic prescription patterns can be attributed both to patients’ request of antibiotics and physicians’ willingness to prescribe, this study investigate the influence of scenarios vignettes emphasizing 1) demand or 2) supply factors on the acceptability of regulatory/self-regulatory instruments. We will do this by using an experimental design on respondents in the Citizens Panel provided by Laboratory of Opinion Research. We have also conducted a large survey on attitudes and knowledge about antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance to a representative sample of Swedes, and the same study has also been sent out to a large sample of doctors and nurses.

Participants: Niklas Harring (Department of Political Science, UoG), Sverker Jagers (Department of Political Science, UoG), Björn Rönnerstrand (Department of Political Science, UoG – CARe), Fredrik Carlsson (Department of Economics, UoG), Elina Lampi (Department of Economics UoG).

Theme: 2 and 3

Environmental policies need to be implemented in order to manage large scale collective problems and to reach long-term environmental goal. In the same time, many of these policies are unpopular among the public. This project investigates, in a series of experimental studies, the role of social norms in influencing public attitudes towards the measures. Based on a vast amount of studies supporting the impact of social norms, we hypothesize that acceptance of policy measures can be increased by highlighting how other people think and behave with regard to these measures. Experimental studies analyzing causal influences on acceptability are largely lacking, the same applies to cross-disciplinary approaches. Thus, another major aim is to bring together social psychologists and political scientists to work on a set of population-based surveys on public acceptability.

Participants: Niklas Harring (Department of Political Science, UoG), Sverker Jagers (Department of Political Science, UoG), Andreas Nilsson (Department of Psychology, UoG), Simon Matti (Political Science Unit, Luleå University of Technology), Emma Ejelöv, UoG, André Hansla, UoG, Magnus Bergquist, UoG

Theme: 2 and 3

This project concerns the willingness to pay of households in Sweden, China and the US to decrease greenhouse gases. We will also study changes in attitudes over time by comparing the results of this project with our earlier study in 2009 in the same countries (Carlsson et al., 2012). Another aim is to investigate how much citizens are prepared to pay for their country to be a front-runner and how that willingness to pay is affected by the likelihood of actually influencing other countries behaviour. Further, we will ask various organisations to frame the climate information provided in order to study how sensitive results are to the way in which such information is formulated and by whom. We use a survey targeting a representative selection of households. We investigate also whether divergence in attitudes and political, economic, and cultural differences can explain possible disparity in willingness to pay across the countries. The project is a collaboration between environmental economists at the University of Gothenburg with researchers in the US and China. It has received funding from the Swedish Energy Agency.

Participants: Åsa Löfgren (Department of Economics, UoG), Elina Lampi (Department of Economics, UoG), Mitesh Kataria (Department of Economics, UoG), Fredrik Carlsson (Department of Economics, UoG), Thomas Sterner (Department of Economics, UoG)

Theme: 2 and 3

Felicia Robertson’s PhD project concerns how large-scale collective action can be created, either through regulations or norms for cooperation. Within the framework of her dissertation, she will explore how questions such as trust in other people, trust in institutions together with laws and regulations affect individuals’ willingness to contribute to a collective good or to reduce one’s overuse of such a good. Her focus is the overuse of antibiotics which is global in its scope and how this behavior of overuse can be diminished on a national level. She started her position September 1st and plan to graduate in September 2023.

Participants: Felicia Robertson, Department of Political Science

Theme: 2 and 3

International cooperation requires policy compliance to be sustainable, and non-compliance is therefore a serious challenge in the European Union (EU). While much research has been devoted to explain non-compliance in the EU, less attention has been given to the effects of non-compliance. Founded in collective action theory, a central prediction is that the chances of generating cooperative agreements between nation states is affected by expectations about policy compliance. The project poses questions on whether expectations about policy compliance affect the current and future will to collective action, and what factors that affect the perceived risk of non-compliance. Empirically, the focus is on negotiation processes between representatives of EU member states, relying on a telephone survey with representatives to the EU Council, and comparative case studies of policy issues in the fields of human and animal antibiotics use, migration and foreign policy.

Participants: Markus Johansson, Department of Political Science.

Theme: 3 and 5

The dissertation project explores international patterns in public support for environmental policy instruments, focusing on the interplay between people’s values, trust and perceptions of Quality of Government (QoG). The project investigates how the effects of individuals’ pro-environmental and political-ideological value orientations on support for environmental taxes vary across countries with different levels of QoG. Applying multilevel analyses on individual- and country-level data from international surveys, interactions between value orientations, trust, and QoG are explored. The causal relationships and underlying individual-level mechanisms are then investigated more in-depth using experimental methods. With these analyses, the dissertation project aims to explain some of the international variation in public support for environmental taxes and highlight the importance of institutional context.

Dragana Davidovic began her doctoral dissertation on September 1, 2017, and plans to finish his doctorate service in the fall of 2021. The project studies public acceptance of environmental policy instruments from an international perspective, focusing on the effects of values, trust and the quality of government. The project investigates how the impact of green and ideological values on acceptance for environmental taxes, environmental subsidies and environmental regulations varies in contexts with different degrees of QoG and trust. More specifically, the effect of green and ideological values on steering acceptance is assumed to be stronger in contexts with higher levels of QoG and thus also higher levels of trust. Using international surveys consisted of individual data and countries data mapping interaction effects between individual and context factors through multi-level analyses, and the causal relationships are then examined more closely using experimental methods. With these analyses, the dissertation aims at explaining some of the international variation that exists regarding public acceptance of environmental policy instruments.

Participants: Dragana Davidovic, Department of Political Science.

Theme: 2 and 3

In recent decades, the number of people affected by extreme weather has been unprecedented. The IPCC reports that heavy rain, floods, violent winds and droughts can destroy progress built up over many years, and thus threaten to undermine the continuing efforts to reduce poverty (IPCC 2014). Of particular importance in this project is the potential impact climate change may have on regime stability, and hence on the prospects for economic growth. Regime stability has been shown to affect economic growth by reducing uncertainty and stimulating economic exchange but is at the same time potentially being threatened by climate change. While some studies indicate that climate change severely affects regime stability and the prospects of economic growth, others suggest that it in fact can constitute a window of opportunity and be a vehicle of positive political changes such as democratization and increased political stability. Our findings contribute to this gap in knowledge and explicitly focuses on increasing our understanding of how climate change affects the prospects for economic growth.

Participants: Oskar Rydén (Department of Political Science), Martin Sjöstedt (Department of Political Science), Sverker Jagers (Department of Political Science), Pelle Ahlerup (Department of Economics), Aksel Sundström (department of Political Science).

Theme: 3 and 4

The literature is divided on whether trust in other people can be increased or should be regarded as a fixed preference in large-scale settings. Most prevalent in recent years is the institutional perspective, according to which trustful institutions and their performance have the ability to foster trust among people. This dissertation project aims to explore how policy addressing large-scale collective action problems – with its potential of coordinating large-scale contributions and thereby fostering cooperative behavior – affects trust levels. The idea is to make use of natural experiment conditions stemming from real policies in order to avoid the problem of reversed causality.

Participants: Frida Nilsson, Department of Political Science.

Theme: 2 and 3

The purpose of this research is to provide policy and regulatory alternatives for marine governance  in the Arctic marine environment from an ecosystem approach and multi-scale perspective including an analysis of the challenges, legitimacy, and opportunities of international nudging, i.e., “low-cost, choice-preserving, behaviorally informed approaches to regulatory problems.”10 The research will expose governance gaps regarding environmental conservation and resource management and give solutions directed at the preservation of ecological services provided by the Arctic marine environment. This research is directly linked to two sustainable development goals, i.e., goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts and goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.11

The main research questions are:

  • What are the regulatory alternatives to achieve a comprehensive marine governance in Arctic Marine Environment?
  • Can behavioural regulatory options, such as, opt-in / op-out arrangements in treaties, goal settings, and rankings contribute to MSP of Arctic Marine Environment? And if so, how?
  • What are the legitimacy issues regarding behavioural regulatory alternatives?

Participants: Gabriela Argüellos Department of Law, University of Gothenburg

Theme: 3 and 5

While companies have recently paid dearly, in compensation and reputational damage, for corporate scandals in relation to unethical business conduct and significant negative human rights impacts, a significant focus has now turned to professional advisors, most notably lawyers, in their potential failure to advise their clients of the ethical impacts of their business decisions. Through the concept of indirect moral responsibility, I aim to reflect on the role of lawyers and the legal profession in advising their clients on business transactions in relation to business ethics and human rights impacts. Furthermore, by elaborating on the moral responsibility that the legal profession has in the ethical conduct of their clients, I will highlight the potential opportunities for large scale collective action that the legal profession could create based on the recognition of their role in ethical business conduct.

Participant: Jasmine Elliott (Department of Philosophy, Linguistics, Theory of Science)

Theme: 3 and 5

This project aims to advance science and develop new tools, knowledge, and methods to support sustainable consumption of products and services. The project aims to evaluate the effect of providing information about carbon footprint in combination with various nudges have on individual’s consumption and lifestyle choices. . Based on a randomly drawn sample from the Swedish population, transaction data will be collected and tracked on all participants, while a randomly chosen subsample will be exposed to all, or parts of a carbon and consumption app called Svalna.

Participants: Fredrik Carlsson and Jakob Enlund (Department of Economics, UoG)

Theme: 2 and 3

Among possible policies to reduce municipal solid waste, the scope of so-called ‘pay-as-you-throw' (PAYT) systems, where waste fees vary with the amount generated, has been limited by perceived concerns about such marginal incentives driving illicit dumping of household waste. However, under PAYT, the household-specific weight data recorded during waste collection may be used to implement additional non-price interventions to reduce household waste. This project estimates the effect of such an intervention: presenting households with accurate feedback regarding their own waste behavior in comparison with that of their peers (neighbors). Evaluation is based on a pair of large-scale randomized controlled trials in Varberg and Partille, two municipalities in western Sweden. Our treatments vary the frequency of feedback (monthly or quarterly) as well as exactly what information is presented to households. Besides estimating any drop in residual waste caused by the feedback, we will be able to investigate various mechanisms driving such effects.

Participants: Claes Ek (Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg), Magnus Söderberg (Department of Sociology, Environmental and Business Economics, University of Southern Denmark)

Theme: 2 and 3

Reduced waste generation is a prioritized environmental policy objective in many countries. In this project, we perform a randomized controlled trial with school children aged 10-16 to evaluate two variants of an Environmental Education Program (EEP) intervention designed to reduce household waste. Crucially, we are able to examine the causal effect of our waste-themed EEP on the actual waste generated in households where a child was exposed to the intervention. This is done by coupling the addresses of participating students with high-resolution address-level data on collected waste amounts, supplied by municipal waste authorities. Our design allows identification of the differential effect of the EEP compared to a control group.

Participants: Claes Ek (Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg), Magnus Söderberg (Department of Sociology, Environmental and Business Economics, University of Southern Denmark)

Theme: 2 and 3