Research

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My research focuses mainly on European politics and policies, and takes a comparative approach, which means that I study European institutions and domestic politics as testing grounds for general political science theories. Three topics in my current research are: 1) policymaking in the European Union, 2) policy implementation and compliance, and 3) the fulfillment of election pledges.

1. Policymaking in the European Union. My research has examined legislative decision-making in the European Union. The European Union Decides (Cambridge University Press 2003) developed and tested a range of theoretical models about how controversies are resolved in the EU. My book, Resolving Controversy in the European Union (Cambridge University Press 2011), brings together my research on the inputs, processes and outputs of the EU’s political system over the past decade. This book is also one of the first systematic assessments of the impact of EU enlargement on the EU’s decision-making process.

See for example:
Thomson, R. 2009. Actor alignments in the European Union before and after enlargementEuropean Journal of Political Research, 48(6): 756-81.
Arregui, J. and R. Thomson. 2009. States’ Bargaining Success in the European UnionJournal of European Public Policy, 16(5): 655-76.
Thomson, R. 2008. National actors in international organizations: The case of the European CommissionComparative Political Studies, 41(2): 169-92.

2. Policy implementation and compliance. This area of research includes the study of policy implementation at the local and national levels. At the national level, my research has examined compliance with European Union directives. This research has focused on the linkages between the decision-making stage and the compliance stage.

See for example:
Thomson, R. and R. Torenvlied. 2011. Information, commitment and consensus: A comparison of three perspectives on delegation in the European Union. British Journal of Political Science 41: 139-59.
Thomson, R.. 2010. Opposition through the back door in the transposition of EU directivesEuropean Union Politics 11: 577-96.
Thomson, R., R. Torenvlied and J. Arregui. 2007. The paradox of compliance. Infringements and delays in transposing EU directivesBritish Journal of Political Science, 37: 685-709.

3. The fulfillment of election pledges. This research theme examines the content of what parties promise citizens during election campaigns and identifies the conditions under which these promises are fulfilled. My research has examined the fulfilment of election pledges in the Netherlands and Ireland. I am currently collaborating with other researchers to compare pledge fulfilment across different countries and contexts. This larger study compared pledge fulfilment in Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Recently I have also extended this line of research to include citizens’ evaluations of pledge fulfilment in the UK and Ireland.

See for example:
Thomson, R. 2011. Citizen’s evaluations of the fulfillment of election pledges: Evidence from Ireland. Journal of Politics 73: 187-201.
Mansergh, L. & R. Thomson. 2007. Election pledges, party competition, and policymakingComparative Politics, 39: 311-29.
Thomson, R. 2001. The programme to policy linkage: the fulfilment of election pledges on socio-economic policy in the Netherlands, 1986-1998European Journal of Political Research 40: 171-197