Michele Crepaz
20162021

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Research Interests

My research interests lie at the intersection between comparative politics and public policy. I am particularly interested in the role of interest groups and transparency in politics. While the first area of research focuses on the examination of interest organisation's influence on public policy, the second explores the way in which contemporary governments have opened to public scrutiny through open data and other tools. I hope to advance new bridges between Comparative Politics and Public Policy Analysis by combining these two areas of research.

 

Current research projects:

 

InterCov Project: The Coronavirus crisis has exerted a major social and economic shock in countries worldwide. Both the pandemic itself, as well as the crisis management policies resulting from it, could entail big changes for the representation of different social and economic interests in public policy. The Interest Representation during the Coronavirus Crisis (InterCov) Project was initiated in May 2020 with the aim of assessing these effects of Covid-19 on interest representation and political advocacyHow did interest groups and companies represent their political interests during the Coronavirus crisis? How has this crisis affected their ability to mobilise, and express their views and needs to decision-makers? Who did decision-makers listen to? Our research team based at QUB, Univerisity of Copenhagen (KU) and Univerisity of Amsterdam (UvA) collected data from politically active interest groups and companies in ten polities in Europe, namely in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, France, and at the European Union (EU)-level in two rounds of surveys. From early June to mid-July 2020, a first online survey was conducted among ca. 6.000 organisations and large firms (report available here). The second round was conducted between late June and early August 2021. In total we collected responses from more than 1,400 different interest organisations. In April-May 2021, our team additionally conducted 12 focus group interviews with a total of 40 participating organisations in Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands. Wiebke Marie Junk (KU), Marcel Hanegraaff (Uva), Joost Berkhout (UvA) and Ellis Aizenberg (Aahrus) are collaborators on this project. More information about this project can be found on: https://sites.google.com/view/michelecrepazcom/home/projects/intercov-project

 

Assessing The Effects of Transparency Laws on Different Political Actors: Transparency is a cornerstone of democratic governance because it allows the public to monitor governmental activity and see which private interests influence the state. Governments worldwide take strides in developing regulations to ensure transparency in governance, as have intergovernmental organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European Union (EU), the World Bank, and the Council of Europe. Having more transparency policies developed means that citizens are more likely to have increased knowledge and trust in governments claiming to be ‘transparent'The aim that guides this project includes the development of a public policy-oriented approach to the study of transparency through the policy evaluation of the effects of different transparency laws on the behaviour and attitudes of different political actors. To this end, we first surveyed 1,700 politically active interest groups in Ireland to explore the effects of transparency on the lobbying profession. Secondly, we collected data on the way journalists use transparency portals thus acting as mediators of transparency. Finally, we conducted a survey experiment on a nationally-representative sample of 1,800 participants (Republic of Ireland) to explore the effects of transparency on political trust and perceived corruption. Gizem Arikan, Raj Chari and Liam Kneafsey at TCD are collaborators on this project. The project is supported by the Irish Research Council (GOIPD/2018/52). More information about the project is available at: https://sites.google.com/view/michelecrepazcom/home/projects/effects-of-transparency-laws

 

PolAds Lab Ireland: In advance of the 2020 Irish general election, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin claimed the Irish public does not “respond well to negative campaigning” (The Irish Times). Such remarks on the inefficacy of negative campaigning are quite common in Irish politics. However, this hypothesis remains empirically untested in Ireland and this paper aims to fill this gap. Our research question is simple – is negative campaign messaging effective in Ireland? Or does it create a ‘boomerang effect’ in which the producer of the message faces a backlash? This project uses the newly available archive of Facebook political ads to inform a survey experiment design that tests the effects of negative political messages on Irish voters. To understand the impact of such negative campaigning, our analyses estimate both within- and between-group treatment effects on vote preferences. Our team as so far carried out pilots with politics students at TCD and NUIG. This project is conducted in collaboration with Liam Kneafsey (TCD) and Alan Duggan (University of Nottingham).

 

Exploring direct subsidies to interest groups in the EU: Governmental subsidies to interest groups is a form of financial support of the activity of civil society groups and other organisationsThese funds often represent a substantial proportion of the total budget of an organisation and, by strengthening its financial resources, support the efficiency of its activity. The EU is currently the world's largest donor. By deciding who is to be funded, EU institutions wield considerable control over organisational activity and its autonomy. Current studies in this field of research have paid attention exclusively to the financial support of civil society organisations. Our project extends to the entire interest group communityincluding business organisations, firms, professional associations and research institutes. We collected data from ca. 500 politically active organisations in two rounds of surveys in 2016 and 2018. With this data we aim at providing new insights into the EU funding mechanism of the interest group community. Our work wishes to draw larger economic and social implications for the literature on interest groups and EU public policy and for the day-to-day operations of politically active organisations in the EU. Marcel Hanegraaff (UvA) and Rosa Sanchez Salgado (UvA) are collaborators in this project. More information about this project is available at: https://sites.google.com/view/michelecrepazcom/home/projects/exploring-direct-subsidies-to-interest-groups-in-the-eu

 

Investigating the Introduction and the Robustness of Lobbying Laws: Lobbying regulations belong to the political realm of ethics, integrity and transparency. They aim at regulating the activity of private actors who are seeking to influence the state. Existent research revealed that initiatives of transparency achieved through these laws help the government to install a level playing field for the participation of interest groups in the policy making process and to prevent cases of corruption. Besides, since these laws shed light over the policy-making process, they allow citizens to hold policymakers accountable for their decisions. However, some lobbying laws guarantee higher levels of transparency and accountability than others. The level of transparency and accountability of lobbying regulations is defined as robustness. Previous research on this topic has revealed that provisions in lobbying laws can vary in robustness, that is to say they can be more or less robust. Building upon these studies, this project addresses two main research questions: First, what are the reasons for political systems to introduce lobbying regulations? - And secondly - within political systems that have passed lobbying laws, why are some regulations more robust than others? My study offers two empirical investigations to answer these questions. First, I explore the adoption of lobbying laws in EU and OECD countries testing a set of explanations based on theories of political agenda setting, policy diffusion and systems of interest representation. Secondly, I explore the effects of corporatism, political corruption scandals and partisanship on the robustness of lobbying regulations in the EU, Austria, Ireland and the UK. The empirical analyses are conducted using a mixed-method approach: as far as the adoption of lobbying laws is concerned, I use a quantitative event history analysis of 34 cases in the period between 1995 and 2014; the determinants of the robustness of lobbying laws, in turn, are investigated in four case studies. Raj Chari is a collaborator in this project. This is a long term project and information, data and a research blog on the topic of lobbying regulations are kept on https://sites.google.com/view/regulating-lobbying

 

The outputs of my research can be accessed on my Google Scholar profile, ResearchGate, or my personal website www.michelecrepaz.com under Publications.

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