Key Research Interests and Expertise

The European Union is my principal interest, where my research has mainly focused on five areas.

EU institutions. Work with Anand Menon in 2004 explored the Commission's relative decline since the late 1980s, while papers with Dionyssis Dimitrakopoulos examined the Commission's input to the Constitutional Convention, and chapters in books edited by Andy Smith (2004) and David Spence (2006) looked at the role, operation and impact of the Secretariat General of the European Commission. More recently, I led a project,  'The European Commission in Question' with John Peterson -- also involving Michael W. Bauer, Sara Connolly, Renaud Dehousse, Liesbet Hooghe, and Andrew Thompson -- which sought to test accepted wisdoms about the Commission and the people who work for it, using responses to an online survey and a programme of face-to-face interviews of administrators conducted by the research team. The findings, presented in Kassim et al (2013) The European Commission of the Twenty-First CenturyOxford University Press, exposed as myths many widely held beliefs about the Commission.

A second project, 'European Commission: Facing the Future', I am leading with Sara Connolly and involving Michael W. Bauer, Renaud Dehousse and Andrew Thompson, uses original data drawn from a survey administered to all members of Commission, a programme of more than 230 interviews, and focus groups conducted between March and September 2014 to investigate leadership, management and coordination,  the employment histories and career trajectories of Commission staff, socialization, values and organizational culture in the Commission, experience of the Commission as a workplace, and HRM in the Commission To our knowledge, this is the largest study of an international administration carried out by independent academic researchers. A first round of publications is now largely complete, including Connolly and Kassim (2015), which looks at the profile of permanent officials in the Commission, Kassim (2016) the Juncker Presidency, Connolly and Kassim (2016) the debate on the socialization of staff in the European Commission, and Kassim et al (2017) the impact of presidentialization in the European Commission on policy activism.

A third project, 'Understanding the EU Civil Service: the General Secretariat of the Council', investigates one of the lesser known parts of the EU administration. Conducted with Sara Connolly, Michael W. Bauer, Renaud Dehousse, Brigid Laffan, and Andrew Thomspon, this project investigates the backgrounds, careers and values of GSC staff, their experience of the GSC as a workplace and their attitudes to change management, and the internal operation of the Secretariat. An Interim Report and Final Report have been submitted to the organization. Planned research outputs include comparisons of the background, motivations and values of staff with Commission personnel, socialization, and examination of patterns of staff interaction insider and outside the organization.

The national coordination of EU policy. My interest in this field originated with a collective project with B. Guy Peters and Vincent Wright, later joined by Anand Menon, and based on workshops at Nuffield College, Oxford, which led to the publication of Kassim et al (2000, 2001) The National Coordination of EU policy, Oxford University Press, 2 vols. It continued in overview pieces written mainly for edited collections (e.g. Hayward and Menon 2003, Featherstone and Radaelli 2003) and handbooks (Magone 2015). To my considerable disappointment, a collective project on seven of the former Communist states that joined the EU in 2004 remains unpublished.

The EU and the member states. A project conducted with Anand Menon led to the publication by Routledge of a series four co-edited volumes that investigated the impact of EU action on national policy and policy making - The European Union and National Industrial Policy (Kassim and Menon 1996), The European Union and National Macroeconomic Policy (Forder and Menon 1998), The European Union and National Defence Policy (Howorth and Menon 1997), and The European Union and National Social Policy (Hine and Kassim 1998). A monograph, co-authored with Handley Stevens, Air Transport Policy and the European Union (2010), investigated how the EU emerged as an actor in aviation, assessed the impact of EU action on the national aviation policy and policy making, and explored how the EU redefined the international regime that regulates aviation in Europe and beyond. With Adriaan Schout, I am leading a project investigating national narratives and the EU.

EU competition policy. Work with Kathryn Wright has examined the origins and impact of the European Competition Network (ECN), an article with Pinar Akman looked at the myths of EU competition policy as part of a project led by Vince della Salla, and a journal special issue with Bruce Lyons investigated how EU state aid policy was affected by the financial and economic crisis. I am currently working on projects with Vanessa Buth and Hagen Streb on the institutionalization of DG IV, and with Francesca Vantaggiato and Kathryn Wright on the ECN. 

EU governance. The role of national administrations in EU governance (Kassim and Wright 1991) were an early interest. I was also curious about -- and somewhat sceptical of -- the application of the policy networks approach to the EU (Kassim 1994). An ESRC Research Seminar, entitled ‘Modelling Political Accountability: Principal-Agent in Government and Politics’ and co-convened with Peter John, Bill Tompson and Catherine Waddams, critically assessed the value of that model in a variety of settings - the EU, central and eastern Europe, and UK regulation. A special issue of West European Politics, co-edited wth Patrick le Galès in 2010, meanwhile, examined EU governance from a policy instruments perspective.

Research highlights include:

The European Commission of the Twenty-First Century, book published 2013.

“‘The Commission of the 21st Century’ has produced the largest and richest data set on attitudes of Commission officials ever uncovered. The project’s findings will help us make the Commission a more efficient and effective administration that better serves European citizens." José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission

‘The book is a landmark in developing our understanding of how policy-making bureaucracies work and how such bureaucracies should be studied’, Edward C. Page, London School of Economics.

‘A new starting point for those who need to know about the institutions of the European Union.’ George Ross, Université de Montréal

‘The most comprehensive and sophisticated examination of the Commission available in the literature’, B. Guy Peters, University of Pittsburgh

‘This book offers a detailed and stimulating portrait of a unique institution that represents a clear innovation in Europe's political organization.’ Morten Egeberg, University of Oslo

 Air Transport and the European Union: Europeanization and its Limits, book published 2010

‘This book makes a very important contribution to the theoretical debate about European integration and Europeanization, while providing the definitive account of how European air transport was deregulated.’ Martin Staniland, University of Pittsburgh

Air Transport and the European Union provides a new and comprehensively researched perspective on the defining period in the evolution of European air transport.’ Daniel Calleja, Director of Aviation, European Commission

‘Anybody who believes that governments and company interests are sufficient to explain the dynamics of economic integration needs to read this book.’ Cornelia Woll, Sciences Po Paris, CERI, CNRS

‘ … a masterful treatment of the politics of international aviation that will be of great interest to political scientists, lawyers, and practitioners.’ Yannis Karagiannis, Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals

Journal special issues

Lyons, B. and Kassim, H. (2013) ‘State Aid Policy: Evolution and Impact’, Journal of Industry Competition and Trade, 13:1, based on papers presented at ‘State Aid. The Present Crisis and Beyond’, convened by the ESRC Centre for Competition Policy, UEA.

Kassim, H and le Galès, P. (2010) 'Exploring Governance in a Multi-Level Polity: A Policy Instruments Approach' in West European Politics, 33:1, based on workshops held at Sciences Po Paris in 2007 and at PSI, UEA in 2008.



Research Group Membership

Much of Professor Kassim’s work has been collaborative.  He was a member of the 'Connecting Excellence on European Governance' (Connex) FP6 network, which was led by Beate Kohler-Koch, then at the University of Mannheim, and Morten Egeberg, University of Oslo. He worked with Dionyssis G. Dimitrakopoulos on a project on preferences and preference formation on the part of governments and EU institutions in regard to the 'Future of Europe' debate.

He convened an ESRC Research Seminar, ‘Modelling Political Accountability: Principal-Agent in Government and Politics’ (with Peter John, Bill Tompson and Catherine Waddams), led a team of researchers with John Peterson (University of Edinburgh) on ‘The European Commission in Question’ that included Michael W. Bauer (German University of Administrative Sciences, Speyer), Sara Connolly (UEA), Renaud Dehousse (Sciences Po Paris), Liesbet Hooghe (UNC at Chapel Hill and University of Amsterdam), and Andrew Thompson (University of Edinburgh), and, with Sara Connolly, is currently leading a research team on ‘European Commission: Facing the Future’ that includes Michael W. Bauer (German University of Administrative Sciences, Speyer), Sara Connolly (UEA), Renaud Dehousse (Sciences Po Paris), and Andrew Thompson (University of Edinburgh).

He is also working in a team led by Sonja Puntscher-Riekmann (University of Salzburg), 'The Choice for Europe', convened by Professor Sonja Puntscher-Riekmann, University of Salzburg, (, a project funded under Horizon 2020. With Shaun Hargreaves Heap and Scott James (both King's College, London), he is researching UK policy on EMU since the crisis.

ID: 85803