"Contested administrations – Conflict resolution and the improvement of democracy” is a research programme investigating public administration’s capability to address and possibly resolve contested issues and conflicts in order to increase equality, strengthen processes of integration and build social solidarity in democratic systems. The research programme marries theories of Public Administration with Conflict Resolution to (1) explore the role of public administration in conflict resolution and conflict generation, and (2) generate new analytical concepts and develop a theoretical framework for understanding the role of public administrations in different democratic contexts, and (3) subsequently advance a public administration tool box for conflict resolution. Empirically, the research programme explores how different democratic contexts address conflicts within and between administrations and institutions as well as among citizens in six selected urban areas, i.e. Copenhagen, Malmö, Mostar, Mitrovica, Belfast and Jerusalem. Each case represents cities in democratic systems at different stages in the consolidation process. Copenhagen and Malmö represents cases of mature democracy, Mostar and Belfast are cases of consolidating democratic systems and Jerusalem and Mitrovica represent cases of fragile democracy. Mature democracies have experience and have under a long time incrementally modified and adjusted their administrations and institutions to be quite well-functioning, even though they may have accumulated quite substantive problems. Consolidating democracies and to a certain extent fragile democracies, often lack this institutionalized stability, but due to their severe issues and urgent problems in the field of public administration, they often show great innovation and inspiring ‘outside-the-box’ solutions, verifying that necessity is the source of invention.
The research programme addresses the following theoretical and analytical building blocks:
1. Type of conflict. What types of conflict are at play? How are conflicts addressed?
2. Actors and agency. Who is involved in the conflicts? Does anyone facilitate acts of reconciliation, and if so how are inclusive processes framed and managed in different settings?
3. Institutional design. What is the institutional design for addressing contested issues? To what degree are the processes public and transparent? Which conflict approaches and tools are applied? What are the perceptions of the roles and identities of the different actors involved?
4. Democratic quality. To what extent do the democratic institutions through their conflict resolution endeavours contribute to the democratic quality in terms of equality, integration and social solidarity?
The research programme “Contested Administrations– Conflict resolution and the improvement of democracy” is funded by the Swedish Research Councils (Vetenskapsrädet) with a grant of 6.680.000 Swedish Kroner. The project will begin the 1st of February 2012 and run for four years.