Photo of Dr Eva Thomann

Dr Eva Thomann


I studied Political Science at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, where I graduated in 2010 under the supervision of Hanspeter Kriesi about neoliberal reforms and the rise of left-of-center presidents in Latin America. During my studies I started to work in applied policy consultancy for the Swiss Federal Administration about such diverse topics as organ donation policy, immigrants in the welfare system, and the adoption of EU food safety policies in member states and Switzerland. This was when I "converted" to policy analysis and developed a lasting curiosity about what makes policies work in practice. From 2010 to 2015 I worked as a research assistant, policy consultant and teaching assistant at the Center of Competence for Public Management at the University of Bern, Switzerland. In February 2015 I completed my cumulative PhD in Public Administration, titled "Public policy at the frontline: a comparative perspective", summa cum laude under the supervision of Fritz Sager. During my PhD studies I also became a comparativist "by nature", inspired by the methodological training of Benoît Rihoux, Carsten Q. Schneider and Claudius Wagemann. Since Summer 2015, two career grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation  enabled me to visit exciting places such as the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research, the European University Institute, and Heidelberg University where I was also briefly employed as a postdoctoral researcher for Jale Tosun in 2016/2017. Since September 2017 I am fortunate enough to be part of the vibrant research community at Exeter University. I am grateful for the generous academic mentorship I have received, and I hope to pass it on to next generations. 

My current research deals with different aspects of the implementation and outcomes of public policies. One central pillar of my research is the "customization" of EU policies (also sometimes referred to as gold-plating, though customization is more encompassing): I look at how member states and third countries change and interpret EU Directives when implementing them in order to "regain control" and adapt EU policies to local contexts and demands. I have completed two research projects about the customization of EU directives and the problem-solving capacity of the regulatory state.  After developing a measure of customization that enables systematic comparisons across countries and policy sectors, I am now beginning to look into the consequences for policy outcomes and working on a monograph on the customization of EU food safety policies. Next to this, I am currently working on a variety of topics such as behavioral aspects of policy implementation and design, discrimination in public service delivery, economic effects of migration policies, and lessons for EU referendums from the Swiss direct democracy, amongst others.

To me, science is a collective good: we're better together. That's why I am happy to take active part in several fascinating research networks. Since 2015 I co-chair the EGPA permanent study group on public policies, which serves as a platform for established and young researchers working on street-level bureaucracy in Europe and beyond. Since 2016 I am also a member of the steering committee of COMPASSS, a network bringing together scholars and practitioners working on case-based and set-theoretic comparative methods. In 2017 I co-edited a special issue about innovative approaches to multi-level implementation in the Journal of European Public Policy, and I am currently co-editing a symposium about the role of integration for the problem-solving capacity of multi-level governance in Public Administration. My network of collaborators includes researchers from all over the world, particularly - so far - the Netherlands and Switzerland. 

I find teaching to be a rewarding experience and an important part of our mission as academics. In Exeter I am teaching a brand new BA module policy implementation (POL3089), the postgraduate modules on qualitative methods (POLM063/POLM140) and on European Political Integration (POLM606). In addition I teach the MPA module on New Public Management (POLM007/ 209). I am also the programme convenor for the MRes in Politics.In the past I have taught or co-taught a variety of BA and MA seminars about empirical research methods, policy implementation and regulation. A large part of my teaching has been extracurricular methodological training and mentorship about Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) for Master students, PhD students and postdocs. I like the challenge of helping other researchers in developing appropriate research designs for assessing their research questions, and it keeps being a highly instructive experience, too.

If you would like to get a more extensive overview of my activities, research, biography and contributions such as blog posts, please visit my homepage