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Summer School 2019 for PhD Students in Local Governance

Is Local Always Better? In Search of Adequate Territorial Structures for Governance, Decision-Making, and Service Delivery

Organized Jointly by the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), the European Urban Research Association (EURA), and the ZHAW School of Management and Law (SML)

Topic and Objectives

All over the world, local authorities are significant players in the provision of public services. In recent decades, decentralization has become an important reform strategy in many countries, usually with the support of international organizations. Traditional sources suggest that efficiency and quality gains in the provision of public services are achieved through decentralization, along with greater expectations for accountability and responsiveness. Some scholars have warned, however, that decentralization is not without its dangers. For example, local administrations may be understaffed, financially challenged, or feel pressure from local political elites, which can affect the quality of public service provision. There is also a risk of inequality between poorer and richer municipalities.

The aim of this year’s Summer School for PhD students interested in local government issues is to discuss the extent to which local government might be the most suitable tier of government for the delivery of public services. Potential topics may include:

In various lectures, leading scholars will present the status quo and discuss theories to help their audience understand these topics and how they relate to one another, using comparative studies, for example, to show local service delivery across different policy areas, tiers of government, organizational contexts, and countries. In addition, PhD students are invited to present a paper.

As an integral part of this year’s Summer School, the hosts are organizing a program of excursions and social activities in Winterthur and Zurich, as well as a sightseeing trip to Aescher-Wildkirchli in the Swiss Alps, one of National Geographic’s "Destinations of a Lifetime".


Local Organizing Committee

Prof. Dr. Reto Steiner

Prof. Dr. Reto Steiner

Dean at ZHAW School of Management and Law
Member ...

ZHAW School of Management and Law
Theaterstrasse 17
8400 Winterthur

+41 (0) 58 934 79 44

At a Glance

Date: 6-12 July 2019

Location: ZHAW School of Management and Law, Zurich-Winterthur, Switzerland (PDF 495,4 KB)

Anticipated number of attendees: 30

Number of ECTS credits awarded: 6 (papers by PhD students will also be graded)

Registration fee: EUR 300 (includes all course materials, meals, most program activities, and accommodation at IBIS Hotel, Winterthur). Participants will have to cover their airfare and personal expenses.


To apply for the ECPR/EURA Summer School 2019, complete the online registration form.

If you have any questions, please contact Christoph Ebnöther:

Your application must include:

A sponsorship program set up by the ZHAW School of Management and Law will cover the registration fee for six participants. To apply for sponsorship, please fill in the online registration form accordingly and provide a motivation statement explaining why your registration fee should be waived.

The registration is closed.


Date   Program
Friday, 5 July   Individual arrival of participants in Winterthur
Saturday, 6 July Morning ECPR/EURA Summer School opening event:
Is Local Always Better?
Lecture by Prof. Reto Steiner, ZHAW, Switzerland
  Afternoon Session 1: Co-Production of Public Services at the Local Tier of Government
Lecture by Prof. Denita Cepiku, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy
  Evening Opportunity to experience "Zürifaescht" – Switzerland’s largest street festival, including a spectacular musical fireworks display over the Lake of Zurich
Sunday, 7 July   Excursion to Aescher
Monday, 8 July Morning Session 2: How Can We Measure Local Autonomy?
Lecture by Prof. Andreas Ladner, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  Afternoon How Can I Publish my PhD Thesis Articles?
Led by Germà Bel, University of Barcelona, Spain. Editor of the ranked journal "Local Government Studies"

Paper presentations by PhD students and discussion
  Evening Formal dinner in Winterthur
Tuesday, 9 July Morning Session 3: How Can Inter-Governamental Relations Improve Service Delivery at the Local Level?
Lecture by Prof. Filipe Teles, University of Aveiro, Portugal
  Afternoon Excursion to Aarau:
The Role of Superordinate Tiers of Government in Local Governance
Yvonne Reichlin-Zobrist and Marc Schmellentin, Canton of Aargau
Wednesday, 10 July Morning Session 4: Financial Resilience of Local Government
Lecture by Prof. Iris Saliterer, University of Freiburg, Germany
  Afternoon Session 5: Does Decentralization Lead to Better Input Legitimacy?
Lecture by Prof. Andreas Ladner, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and Prof. Reto Steiner, ZHAW, Switzerland
Thursday, 11 July Morning Session 6: Citizen Participation and Digital Transformation in Local Governments
Lecture by Dr. Lisa Schmidthuber, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria
  Afternoon Half-day excursion to meet Anna Schindler, Director of Urban Development, City of Zurich
  Evening Farewell dinner in Zurich
Friday, 12 July Morning Session 7: Governance and Decision-Making in Local Governments
Lecture by Prof. Bert George, Erasmus University, Netherlands
  Afternoon Paper presentations by PhD students and discussion
Saturday, 13 July (optional)   "Openair Frauenfeld" - the largest European Hip Hop festival