TROPICO young research network

19 Dec 2018 | Published by  Chesney Callens and Magnus Paulsen Hansen

TROPICO includes a large number of young researchers who provide essential work for the project. It is a first-rate opportunity for them to contribute with their innovative research ideas, to learn from their peers, interact with other young researchers as well as more established academics, and bring out results from their research. The TROPICO blog presents some of our hard-working PhDs and postdocs in a series. In the first post, we invited Chesney Callens from Antwerp and Magnus Paulsen Hansen from Roskilde to reflect on their work within TROPICO.


My name is Chesney Callens. I’m 26 years old and I’m a PhD researcher in the research group of Politics & Public Governance of the University of Antwerp. My research project revolves around three interrelated subjects: Innovation, public-private collaboration and service delivery. I study the conditions that lead to, and the mechanisms that underlie the development of innovation in public services in complex partnerships such as public-private partnerships (e.g. PPPs), network partnerships (e.g. innovation networks) and societal partnerships (e.g. cooperatives). TROPICO Work Package 7 “Practices of External Collaboration for Service Delivery” is strongly related to this research because of its emphasis on the influence of different characteristics of partnerships on the innovation in service delivery in the partnerships. I will contribute to a cross-case qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) of partnerships in different European countries, where the goal is to explain the conditions that lead to innovation and to measure the attitudes, skills, incentives and knowledge of co-producing individuals in those partnerships via a Q-sort methodology. Conducting research in an international consortium such as TROPICO enables us to make broader inferences about the nature of innovation in public services and to acquire insights out of the different experiences with public services and partnerships of other European countries in other administrative traditions. The TROPICO project will enrich my PhD substantially and stimulate my personal development as a researcher because of the collaboration with highly qualified researchers from all over Europe.

My name is Magnus Paulsen Hansen and I work as postdoc at the Department of Social Sciences and Business at Roskilde University, Denmark. I am a political scientist by training but continue to equip my theoretical toolbox with methods and concepts deriving from sociology. Broadly speaking, my interest is in ongoing transformations of the welfare state, in particular how these are legitimized. My PhD concerned what ideas inform the introduction of activation policies in France and Denmark. It is forthcoming on Policy Press titled The Moral Economy of Activation: Ideas, Politics and Policies. Most of my work on TROPICO is related to Work Package 8 “Effects on Legitimacy and Accountability”, which addresses and assesses how collaborative governance affect legitimacy and accountability. I find this subject intriguing, not least because the more network-based and horizontal organization that comes with collaboration between various stakeholders compel us to rethink how and to whom public servants and politicians make accounts, and how they legitimize their actions. We will examine the legitimation and networks of account-giving in local collaborative efforts to tackle the ‘wicked’ problem of long-term unemployment through case studies in Denmark, Estonia, the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium. We will use the conceptual work and the findings from the case study to develop and test indicators that can be used by practitioners to measure the legitimacy and accountability of collaborative forms of governance. Thus, TROPICO has provided me with a unique opportunity to participate in, and co-organize, a larger collective and comparative study.