Department Environmental Social Sciences

Overlapping Subsystems: Identification and Integration of Fragmented Games in Swiss Water Politics

With the increasing complexity of modern political problems, actors are involved in an ecology of games and simultaneously deal with several issues at different stages and levels, and across varying arenas. We argue that traditional approaches focusing on single policy sectors are unable to deal with this new complexity in political decision-making. In the planned research project, we seek to overcome the limitations of these approaches by focusing explicitly on the games that actors play across issues, stages, levels and arenas. We ask, (1) how can overlapping games be identified; (2) what factors explain that actors or issues are involved in several games; and (3) how do the games that actors play interact with each other?

Empirically, the research project deals with Swiss water politics. Water-related issues are often transboundary and cross-sectoral in nature and involve different levels of decision-making. This complexity makes water politics an ideal case in which to study overlapping games. Our analysis will lead us to (1) map Swiss water politics and its ecology of games; (2) explain the ecology of games by analyzing why actors or issues are involved in several games; and (3) contribute to theory by developing a typology of games.

Project Team

Prof. Dr. Karin Ingold Group leader, Cluster: PEGO Tel. +41 58 765 5676 Send Mail
Dr. Manuel Fischer Head of Department ESS & Group leader PEGO Tel. +41 58 765 5676 Send Mail

External team members

Dr. Philip Leifeld (University of Glasgow)


Fischer, M.; Leifeld, P. (2015) Policy forums: Why do they exist and what are they used for?, Policy Sciences, 48(3), 363-382, doi:10.1007/s11077-015-9224-y, Institutional Repository