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Research-Policy Dialogues on Migrant Integration in Europe: A Conceptual Framework and Key Questions

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Part of the IMISCOE Research Series book series (IMIS)


Europe has become a continent of immigration in the course of the last half century, and European societies have experienced growing ethnic and cultural diversity. Governmental actors have often made great efforts to collect and develop the knowledge and expertise to understand integration processes and to control and steer these. Major differences, however, exist between European countries in the way relations between policy and research on immigrant integration have evolved. In this first chapter three aspects of such research-policy dialogues are introduced. First, we look at concrete dialogue structures, formal or informal arrangements, such as advisory bodies, through which knowledge is exchanged. Secondly, we look at cultures and practices of knowledge utilization in policy processes. Thirdly, we look at cultures of knowledge production in the field of migration research itself. In this introductory chapter some main hypotheses are developed for each of these three aspects. These hypotheses will serve as guidance for the entire book. In Part I of the book forms and functions of research-policy dialogues will be further explored, mostly on a comparative basis. Part II analyses seven country cases plus the case of the European Union.


  • European Union
  • Knowledge Production
  • Integration Policy
  • Knowledge Utilisation
  • European Union Level

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

1.1 Introduction

Europe has become ‘a continent of immigration’ in the course of the last half century, and European societies have experienced growing ethnic and cultural diversity (Okolski 2012). Recognition of the necessity to devise migrant integration policies in light of these facts has been uneven in time and place (Penninx 2013). For example, in a number of cases integration policies were first formulated at the city level rather than the national level. Since the turn of the century, however, most European states have developed some form of integration policy; after 2003, the European Union (EU) also entered this increasingly multi-level field of policy.

These local, national and EU governmental actors have often made great efforts to collect and develop the knowledge and expertise required to understand integration processes and to control and steer these. Such knowledge may be collected from existing sources or, if the required knowledge is not available, it may be solicited from the research world. It may be used for different purposes: to give policies a sound conceptual basis, to develop policy instruments and measures, or to monitor and evaluate policies.

In this context, the social sciences have played an important role in shaping public understanding of immigrant integration processes, and in many cases also in shaping government policies. When this started to happen and the way in which this took place, however, varies from one country to another, and from city to city. The specific role of social scientists in shaping policies also varies greatly: in some cases researchers have been quite active both in the scientific process of formulating the content of policies and in the political process of getting policies established. In other cases, social scientists have distanced themselves, or have been kept at a distance, from policymaking. Between these two positions many variations also exist.

Scientists may have influenced policies, but the reverse may also be the case: policymakers may play a role in shaping the production of knowledge. Policymakers may solicit the knowledge they wish to have in many ways and with varying degrees of scientific freedom for researchers.

Major differences exist between European countries in the way relations between policy and research on immigrant integration have evolved. Nowadays, however, a feature common to many European countries is that the body of scientifically-based knowledge on immigrant integration has increased substantially, while at the same time public authorities seem to have become less interested in making use of the assembled knowledge. The current relationship between migration research and policymaking seems to have led to a certain disenchantment about research-policy dialogues. Although the idea of ‘evidence-based policymaking’ has gained wide recognition discursively, strong evidence also exists that politicians and policymakers often use scientific research for symbolic rather than instrumental purposes (Boswell 2009). Clearly, in parallel with the increasing politicisation of the field, earlier optimism about the value of academic expertise in guiding rational societal steering has yielded to a growing cynicism about the validity of research and the credibility of researchers (Scholten and Verbeek forthcoming).

At the same time, various scholars have indicated their disenchantment about the policy-driven orientation of research in this area and the lack of theoretical development in this research field (Favell 2003; Bommes and Thränhardt 2010). They see this as an effect of the intense contacts between researchers and policymakers that have existed in several countries. Critics have coined the term ‘methodological nationalism’ to describe research fields where choice of topics, questions to be answered, conceptual and theoretical approaches, and the sources to be used largely depend on political and policy framing by national governmental actors (Wimmer and Glick Schiller 2002). This, in turn, has led to a call for more independent, theory-driven and (international) comparative research (Penninx et al. 2006).

This book aims to develop deeper insights into how research and policymaking in the field of migrant integration have developed historically and how this interrelationship plays out in the strongly politicised climate of opinions on migration in Europe. We do this firstly by developing a conceptual frame for analysis of research-policy dialogues (in this introductory chapter). This is followed by a comparative analysis of empirical cases in the rest of the book: Part I presents comparative case studies of different forms of dialogues and their functions, while Part II systematically analyses the development of research-policy dialogues in seven national cases, as well as at the EU level. In Part III (Chap. 17) we compare the main findings of this book and try to find answers to the hypotheses formulated in this introductory chapter.

1.2 Conceptualising Research-Policy Dialogues

For the purpose of this book, research-policy dialogues are defined broadly as all forms of interaction between researchers and policymakers in the domain of immigration and immigrant integration. The term ‘dialogues’ is used to refer to the reciprocal nature of research-policy relations; we are not just looking at how research is used in policymaking, but also how the policy context and the dialogues influence research (in size, orientation and content: the production of knowledge). In addition, the term ‘dialogues’ is meant to capture the very diverse forms that research-policy relations may take. In some cases, research-policy dialogues evolve around a strongly institutionalised research-policy nexus, for instance through formal research or advisory committees. In other cases research-policy dialogues are much less institutionalised and take more informal and indirect forms, for example through personal networks, through the media, or through other ad-hoc channels.

Since we intend to study research-policy dialogues empirically, we do not sharply define at the outset what counts as ‘research’ or ‘knowledge’ within these dialogues. In fact, establishing what type of research or knowledge is produced and communicated in research-policy dialogues is an interesting empirical question. For instance, whether quantitative or qualitative-conceptual research is produced and used tells us something about the nature of the research-policy dialogue that is taking place. Conversely, the policy side of these dialogues is not monolithic either. Research and knowledge can be in demand at different locations and at different levels of government (national, regional, local, supra-national) for different purposes (policy development, implementation, evaluation or political debate). This has consequences for what is defined as relevant knowledge (which will be discussed in more detail in Sect. 1.2.3).

In our analytical approach we distinguish three aspects of research-policy dialogues. First, we will explore and analyse the concrete structures of research-policy dialogues (dialogue structures). These are the formal, and also the informal, arrangements through which knowledge is exchanged, and through which decisions on knowledge production and the relevance of knowledge for policy, are communicated. Secondly, we will look at cultures and practices of knowledge utilisation in policy processes (knowledge utilisation). Here we take the perspective of policymakers and analyse what role is assigned to researchers and what function is attributed to knowledge and research. Thirdly, taking the perspective of researchers, we will look at cultures of knowledge production in the field of migration research itself (knowledge production).

These three aspects of research-policy dialogues have been dealt with separately in the migration literature. In the area of dialogue structures, for example, Florence and Martiniello (2005), Geddes (2005), Penninx (2005), Scholten (2011a), and Thränhardt and Bommes (2010) have written variously about channels of communication in research-policy dialogues, such as research institutes, advisory bodies, expert committees and more informal networks. Boswell (2009) has focused on knowledge utilisation. The impact of policy on knowledge production has been treated by Favell (2003), Thränhardt and Bommes (2010), Vasta and Vuddamalay (2006), and Penninx (2005). However, the interconnections between these three aspects have not yet been dealt with. The key objective of this book is to bring together these literatures and explore how the relations between these three aspects can be conceptualised and analysed empirically.

Figure 1.1 shows the three aspects of research-policy dialogues and how these are interconnected. In the sections that follow we will elaborate all three – also in their interrelationships – and further develop the major hypotheses that will guide us throughout this book.

Fig. 1.1
figure 1

The three main aspects of research-policy dialogues and their interrelationship: this book’s conceptual model

1.2.1 Dialogue Structures

The first key question here is how research-policy dialogues are structured. How are dialogues organised, in what venues do they take place, what types of actors are involved, what type of knowledge is communicated, and what issues are discussed?

In the sociology of science literature and in policy sciences, a number of ideal-type models of research-policy structures have been defined (see Hoppe 2005; Scholten 2011b). The enlightenment model (‘speaking truth to power’) is perhaps the one that comes closest to the ideal-typical image of the role that scientific research should have in policymaking. The enlightenment model postulates sharp boundaries between research and policy and assumes that scientific knowledge will eventually ‘creep’ into the policymaking process and thus (indirectly) determine how policymakers interpret and act upon policy problems. In contrast to the sharp boundaries of the enlightenment model, Hoppe (2005) formulates a technocratic model of research-policy relations, where researchers (‘experts’) are more directly involved in policymaking. In a technocracy, researchers do more than just provide knowledge. In short, they also frame policy problems and develop solutions; they come much closer to taking on the role of policymakers themselves.

Whereas both the enlightenment and the technocratic models assume that research-policy relations should be structured to give research a primary role in policymaking, alternative approaches like the engineering model and the bureaucratic model hold a firm belief in the primacy of politics in policymaking. The latter two models assume that research provides input to policymaking and political decision making while recognising that the outcomes of policymaking are also determined by other considerations, including values, norms and power. In the bureaucratic model, research is supposed to provide data (‘facts’) that are required by policymakers to develop policies and to reach decisions. This model assumes a sharp Weberian fact-value dichotomy between research and politics. The engineering model, by contrast, allows researchers a more far-reaching role in policymaking, while assuming, however, that politics keeps its primacy and is at liberty to select (‘pick-and-choose’) those strands of expertise that it sees fit.

Although these models are primarily based on the function that research and knowledge may have for policy and policymaking, they may also be used as heuristic devices for mapping differences between forms of dialogues, or even for comparing research-policy dialogues in different countries. They may also serve to map the dynamics of specific forms of dialogue structures within countries. The assumption then is that each model triggers specific forms of research-policy dialogue structures. Several studies have already indicated that significant differences exist between countries in terms of such structures as well as in their degrees of institutionalisation. Scholten (2011b), for instance, revealed that, whereas the Dutch research-policy nexus was strongly institutionalised in the period between 1980 and 1992, involving a very significant influence of research on policymaking (in the logic of the technocratic model), the French research-policy nexus involved more informal and personal networks between researchers and policymakers, with a much stronger primacy for politics (the bureaucratic model). Boswell and Hunter (2014) showed how in the UK case various independent commissions played an important role in research-policy dialogues. Systematic study of changes over time of research-policy structures from one model to another in the same context may shed light on the specific conditions under which these come into existence and disappear.

Favell (2003), Rath (2001), and Scholten (2011a) amongst others, have shown that in various cases migration scholars had a strong policy-orientation that led to a relatively high degree of institutionalisation of research-policy relations. Favell (2003) speaks even of a policy-orientation habitus. Scholten (2011a) shows how particular organisations were established to structure research-policy dialogues. These authors show that a depoliticised context provides a good breeding ground for institutionalisation of research-policy relations. In fact, Rath (2001) refers to a ‘technocratic symbiosis’ to depict a situation where researchers and policymakers jointly frame policies in a technocratic relationship not characterised by politicisation.

Several scholars, however, have argued that the current politicisation of migration has led to changes in specific research-policy dialogue structures (Florence and Martiniello 2005; Scholten and Verbeek 2014). On the basis of earlier studies on politicisation and research-policy dialogues, we hypothesise that the former will lead to a deconstruction of such institutionalised dialogue structures. We assume that these have become less direct, more public and open to more diverse participants, and also more ad-hoc. This leads us to the concrete hypothesis guiding this book, namely that politicisation leads to de-institutionalisation of existing research-policy relations (less direct, more open, more ad-hoc). Conversely we hypothesise that institutional relations will persist in contexts characterised by relatively low levels of politicisation.

1.2.2 Knowledge Utilisation

The second aspect of research-policy dialogues focuses specifically on the question of how knowledge is utilised in policymaking. Christina Boswell (2009; see also Chap. 2 in this volume) distinguishes different modes of knowledge utilisation. The most basic type involves the instrumental utilisation of knowledge and expertise, where research outcomes are directly taken as input for policymaking. It is this type of knowledge utilisation that is assumed in the notion of ‘evidence based policymaking’. In addition to instrumental use of knowledge, Boswell distinguishes two symbolic types of knowledge utilisation. Rather than being used as input for decision-making, knowledge can also have a substantiating function for policymakers, whereby favourable knowledge and expertise merely provide support for already-decided policies. Besides substantiating policy decisions, research can also have a plainly legitimising function for policy actors and institutions. This legitimising function of research and expertise does not refer to substantive research findings themselves, but to the mere symbolic act of mobilising knowledge and expertise in order to claim authority over a particular policy domain or issue (see also Caponio et al. 2014 and Scholten and Timmermans 2010).

Boswell’s landmark work on knowledge utilisation in migration policymaking in the United Kingdom, Germany and the EU (Boswell 2009) alludes to various important contextual factors that may help explain why, where and when a specific type of knowledge utilisation emerges. For instance, her examination of the European Migration Network revealed that this organisation primarily served to substantiate EU migration policies in the context of the fierce politicisation of this issue at the European level. In addition, her British and German case studies point to the relevance of the organisational structure of the policy domain. She claims, for instance, that the fragmented and contested nature of the migration policy domain in Germany helps explain why the role of the BAMF (Federal Office for Migration and Refugees) was mostly substantiating rather than instrumental or legitimising (see also Chap. 11 in this volume for a slightly different perspective on the BAMF’s role in the German case).

Interestingly, Boswell’s case studies suggest that we should study knowledge utilisation and policy-research structures at two different levels. On the one hand, there is the more generic level of national cultures of knowledge utilisation, with different traditions in the UK and Germany for example, that may explain the frequent incidence of certain forms of policy-research dialogues. On the other hand, the particular culture and practices in a specific domain and a specific institution may in reality turn out to be quite different from what one may expect on the basis of national cultures and traditions. For instance, whereas the specific British case revealed a great interest in policymaking based on knowledge and evidence, in reality research mostly served substantiating purposes rather than having a legitimising or instrumental role. Boswell’s exploration of these contextual factors further underlines the necessity of more conceptual and empirical work that connects knowledge utilisation to the issue of how research-policy relations are structured in the first place.

What could the possible effects of politicisation be on utilisation of knowledge and on research-policy dialogues? Following Boswell’s typology of knowledge uses and our observation that technocratic modes of dialogues are often associated with direct instrumental forms of knowledge utilisation, we formulate as the second hypothesis for our empirical analyses that, when issues like migrant integration become politicised, such technocratic structures and instrumental forms of knowledge utilisation are less likely to emerge and to survive. Instead we would then expect rather symbolic forms of knowledge utilisation, substantiating as well as legitimising ones.

1.2.3 Knowledge Production

The third aspect focuses on the relation between knowledge production and research-policy dialogues: how does knowledge production influence such dialogues and, vice versa, how do dialogues affect migrant integration research itself? Research-policy dialogues can create opportunity structures for specific researchers, with specific research programmes and institutes in turn emerging and influencing policy (see Jasanoff 2005; Entzinger and Scholten 2014; Penninx 1988). In the longer run, however, there may also be a significant influence in the opposite direction. Strongly institutionalised relations with policymaking institutions may affect the structural characteristics of migration research as a research field. They may influence the extent of consensus or fragmentation in a research field. For instance, the strongly institutionalised relationship between research and policymaking in the Netherlands and Sweden in the 1980s provided a dominant position for specific dialogue structures and their participants (such as ACOM and EIFO/DEIFO respectively) and thereby created a ‘consensus’ in research on migrant integration in that period (Penninx 2005; Hammar 2004). In contrast, recent studies show that opportunity structures in this domain have become much more diverse, which has contributed to a fragmentation of the research field. We hypothesise that this is an effect, at least to some extent, of the rapid politicisation of migrant integration.

Beyond such effects on the structure of the research field (which have received relatively little attention), various scholars have also pointed to more substantive impacts on ‘knowledge production’, recognisable in methodological, theoretical and disciplinary developments. For example, Thränhardt and Bommes (2010) claim that research-policy dialogues have hampered the theoretical development of migration research. In particular, they claim that migration research uses the nation state as a ‘constitutive frame’ for the study of migration. This has hampered the rise of a more critical approach to the nation state and has stressed ‘the social importance’ of solving integration as a problem of the nation rather than conceptualising and theorising immigration and integration from a more scientific perspective (ibid: 30). In the same vein, Favell (2003) claims that the strong policy orientation of research has contributed to the rise of what he calls the ‘integration paradigm’. Wimmer and Glick Schiller (2002) refer to comparable biases in migration research, coining the term ‘methodological nationalism’. In their view, ‘nation state building processes have fundamentally shaped the ways immigration has been perceived and received. These perceptions have in turn influenced, though not completely determined, social science theory and methodology and, more specifically, its discourse on immigration and integration’ (Wimmer and Glick Schiller 2002: 301–302).

Related to Bommes and Thränhardt’s argument about the field’s poor theoretical development and Favell’s critique of the exclusive focus on integration within the nation state, it has been claimed that migration researchers have (co-)produced specific national models of integration. Such models have incorporated specific national and historically rooted definitions, interpretations and frames of immigrant integration, as, for example, the French Republican model, the British Race-Relations model, or the Ethnic-Minorities paradigm in the Netherlands in the 1980s (Rath 2001). Many scholars have argued that research-policy dialogues have been structured around such specific models within exclusively national settings. For instance, Bertossi (2011; see also Bertossi et al., Chap. 4 in this volume) shows how French migration scholars have tended to reproduce the French Republican model. Similarly, Thränhardt and Bommes (2010) show how research-policy dialogues in Germany have thus far evolved largely around the institutions of the German welfare state.

Partly as a reaction to the tendencies of migration researchers to confine themselves to national framings, there has been an undeniable upsurge of international comparative research in the field of migration and integration, especially over the past decade. Emerging international research networks such as IMISCOE have triggered this,Footnote 1 but it has also been strongly supported by the European Commission’s Directorate General (DG) for Research and Innovation (for instance through the European Framework Programmes) and other EU funds (European Integration Fund, European Refugees Fund and European Social Fund: see also Chap. 16 in this volume). Stimulated by DG Research, a number of national research funding agencies within the EU have also started to jointly fund cross-national research, via the NORFACE programme. In the 2009–2013 period this programme focused on migration and integration in Europe. This new direction of research has in turn led to more explicit criticisms of national models of integration and to the rise of transnationalist and post-nationalist perspectives on immigrant integration. Interestingly, as Geddes (2005: 267) argues, the substantial and growing involvement of European institutions in (the funding of) research in this field has contributed to the characterisation of migration and integration as ‘problems of Europe’ (see also Geddes and Scholten 2014).

Knowledge production can of course involve very different ‘types’ of knowledge, such as conceptual or theoretical research, applied research, statistical analyses, policy analysis (including policy evaluation and policy-oriented studies), or more personalised and experience-based expressions of ‘expertise.’ In the field of migration research, all of these knowledge types are present. However, the type of knowledge that is mobilised in research-policy dialogues is very much context-dependent (see also Entzinger and Scholten 2014). For instance, in technocratic sessions one may expect more applied research and policy analyses as well as calls upon specific forms of expertise, whereas the idea of ‘enlightenment’ often speaks more to conceptual or theoretical forms of knowledge production. This speaks to the broader assumption in this book that knowledge production, knowledge utilisation and research-policy dialogue configurations are inherently connected.

One of these types of knowledge seems to have become particularly important in the field of migration research: administrative data. Most countries have well-developed programmes in place for gathering data on migration and integration issues, but the data gathered by institutions are often national in the sense that the target groups are defined by national territory or jurisdiction and nationally specific in their framing or content. This makes cross-national comparisons difficult.

Following the institutionalisation of migration and integration policies throughout Europe, a greater demand has emerged for comparative quantitative data for monitoring and evaluation purposes. Large-scale EU-funded projects, such as COMPSTAT and PROMINSTAT have systematically mapped national data systems on migration and integration and assessed their comparability. European statistical agencies, particularly Eurostat, have been charged with standardising existing national systems to improve their comparability, as well as with designing new ones to replace or complement these. The MIPEX programme to establish comparative indicators on migration policies is another example at the EU level (Huddleston and Niessen 2011). Although such efforts may be defined as technical exercises to attain better comparability, it is also clear that they serve the political goal of stimulating policy convergence through soft means of coordination. In this sense, one might say that such efforts to quantitatively ‘measure’ migration and integration policies (and their outcomes) with administrative data encounter the same conceptual problems as qualitative research (Favell 2003). Determining what to measure, how to measure it and how to interpret data have become central issues of discussion in various countries (see Chap. 3 by Kraler et al. in this book).

Having recognised the mutual influence that research-policy dialogues can have both on policy and on developments within the field of migration research itself (e.g. reproducing specific national models of integration), we can now elaborate some expectations about what will happen in a politicised situation. First, we expect that co-production of knowledge is more likely to come into existence and be sustained in depoliticised settings rather than politicised ones. A depoliticised setting seems to be a condition for sustaining certain structural arrangements, such as subsidising specific research centres or accepting and privileging one specific frame of migrant integration. Turning this argument around, we expect that in a more politicised context a de-institutionalisation of research-policy dialogues is likely to take place. Furthermore, we expect the growing internationalisation of research to challenge ‘national models of integration’, leading to a fragmentation of research within and across academic disciplines and into more heterogeneous schools of thought. Thus, we expect politicisation, along with certain other trends just described, to contribute to knowledge diversification and, consequently, to more frequent (and more intense) knowledge conflicts.

It is important to acknowledge that the foregoing observations are primarily based on a number of countries that have a longer immigration history and therefore a longer history of policy-research dialogues, at least potentially. It may be interesting to ask the same questions for relatively new immigration countries, such as Southern European countries that were first faced with large-scale immigration in the 1990s, and similarly for the Central and East European countries that introduced the EU policy regime for migration and integration only after their accession to the EU in 2004. Since most of these countries (still) have low immigration and lack historically rooted national models of integration, we will be able to observe how research-policy relations and structures have evolved there from their very beginning. This is why in this volume we include not only ‘traditional’ immigration countries in the North and West of Europe, but also Italy as relatively new immigration country, and Poland, which has a long experience of emigration, but which hosts only small numbers of immigrants.

1.3 Contributions to this Book

The contributions to this book aim to advance empirical and theoretical understanding of how research-policy dialogues have been configured, how they have evolved in diverse (local, national, European) settings, and what their effects have been on migrant integration policy and research. The book brings together the knowledge of researchers who have made empirical studies of research-policy relations, as well as the perspectives of experts who themselves have actively participated in these research-policy dialogues. These researchers and experts not only hail from countries with a longer history of immigration, but also from ‘new’ immigration countries.

The chapters in Parts I and II of the book have a common genesis: reflecting the internationalisation of knowledge production on this topic, the chapters originate in exchanges since 2008 among a group of researchers established through the IMISCOE research network, looking at multi-level governance of migration and integration. A first major milestone of this cooperation was the IMISCOE-conference ‘Research–Policy Dialogues on Migration and Integration in Europe’, held at the University of Twente on May 22 and 23, 2008 (see Penninx and Scholten 2009). Since that conference, the activities on this topic have been continued in two different manners. First, the editors of this book – who were all involved in the Twente conference – invited colleagues involved in empirical research on facets of the policy-research nexus as well as some policymakers to write a book chapter on the theme of the conference. This has resulted in the seven chapters in Part I of this book.

Secondly, the editors of this book decided to prepare a funding proposal for a comparative empirical study on the actual functioning of the policy-research nexus in a number of countries. This proposal, entitled ‘Science-Society Dialogues on Migration and Integration in Europe’ (DIAMINT) was accepted for funding by the Volkswagen Stiftung under its programme ‘Science, the Public, and Society’. This 2-year project of empirical research was carried out between September 2011 and September 2013. Six of the chapters in Part II of this book result from this DIAMINT comparative project: these are the chapters on Austria, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the European Union. Two more chapters – those on Poland and Denmark – were initially meant to be country case studies for Part I, but were later rewritten in accordance with the DIAMINT template used for the other country chapters in Part II.

The two major parts of this book not only have a common origin, but they also share the same theoretical background: the conceptual ideas and exploration of the field – as presented in the foregoing pages – have been the starting point for all authors who have contributed to this volume. The two parts also share a focus on migrant integration, rather than on migration. These are two policy areas which can be distinguished analytically from one another without much difficulty, but which are not always so easy to separate empirically. Developments in one area often have an impact on the other. This becomes of particular interest when the European dimension is considered, since the EU’s competencies in the area of migration reach much further than those in the field of integration.

1.3.1 Part I: Forms and Functions of Research-Policy Dialogues

The contributions in Part I bring various case studies but primarily have a conceptual orientation. Some of the chapters focus on the production and utilisation of knowledge, whereas others focus on the structure of research-policy dialogues. These chapters further explicate this book’s conceptual framework. They are complementary insofar as they all deal with the relationship between research and policy and insofar as they ask crucial questions that can be situated on the knowledge production – knowledge utilisation axis outlined above: what national traditions of research-policy relations exist and how do these relate to knowledge production and knowledge utilisation? The chapters differ, however, in other aspects. Some focus on very specific forms of dialogue structures and analyse the mechanisms involved and the dominant functions performed in or through these structures. Christina Boswell (Chap. 2) compares in-house-research facilities in the UK and Germany and looks specifically at knowledge utilisation. Jan Schneider and Peter Scholten (Chap. 5) make a comparative analysis of how politics and policymakers in the Netherlands and Germany make use of ad-hoc committees, how research and expertise are involved in such committees and what functions they have. In Sandra Pratt’s contribution (Chap. 7) the central topic of analysis is not the specific form of dialogue, but the genesis of two important EU policy documents. She asks what role knowledge and expertise played in their making and on whose initiative this occurred.

In the other chapters in Part I the emphasis is not on specific dialogue structures, but on general patterns of research-policy relations as these have evolved, as well as on specific mechanisms that play a role in certain phases of their development and at different governance levels. The comparative analysis by Christophe Bertossi, Jan Willem Duyvendak and Peter Scholten (Chap. 4) of the so-called Dutch and French national ‘models’ of integration shows how scientific and policy models may get conflated and how researchers may contribute to such conflation. Albert Kraler, David Reichel and Han Entzinger’s chapter on migration and integration statistics (Chap. 3) looks at another aspect of the interwovenness of research and policy: the national character of administrative definitions, categories and procedures may create ‘national facts’ and thereby influence the production of knowledge.

Part I thus describes and analyses different aspects of research-policy dialogues with a variety of examples taken from older immigration countries in Europe, often on a comparative basis. Research-policy dialogues, however, are not restricted to the national level, but they also have an increasingly important European dimension. This is particularly evident from the chapters by Kraler et al. and by Pratt, mentioned earlier, while Ann Singleton also deals with the growing importance of policymaking at the EU level. In Chap. 8 she looks critically at the general system of policymaking in Brussels and the involvement of interest groups and researchers in these procedures.

Furthermore, an analysis of the interplay of research and policymaking in integration would not be complete if no attention were paid to the local level. All over Europe major cities in particular are faced with the concrete effects of immigration. It is actually at the local level that the issue of migrant integration manifests itself most clearly, and cities are more and more proactive in developing policies to cope with these challenges. In Chap. 6 Rinus Penninx outlines how cities and local governments have developed their dialogues in search of the knowledge and expertise that they need for policy development. This has recently led to interesting new coalitions between various cities and the European Union, sometimes bypassing the national level.

1.3.2 Part II: Science-Society Dialogues in Seven Countries and at the EU-Level Compared

Part II differs from Part I in that its focus is not primarily on a conceptual contribution on research-policy dialogues on migrant integration, but rather on an application of this book’s conceptual and theoretical framework to selected case studies (the EU and seven country cases). Six of the eight chapters in Part II are based on empirical research carried out in the framework of the DIAMINT project ‘Science-Society Dialogues on Migration and Integration in Europe’. For this project the scope used in Part I was widened somewhat: the rephrasing of policy-research dialogues into science-society dialogues did not change the research/science pole of the binary essentially, but it did broaden its policy/society pole. In the original policy-research dialogue frame the questions were primarily asked from a policymakers’ perspective: what influence has research had? In the science-society dialogues this question was also reversed: what has been the relevance and use of science for society? The field of potential stakeholders was broadened, and therefore the general impact of research-policy dialogues. Dialogues may no longer be dialogues, but they may become ‘polylogues’, that involve no longer (bureaucratic) policymakers only, but also politicians, NGOs, interest groups and target groups (the migrants themselves). Indirect ways of influencing may now also become more important, with the role of media entering the picture as well.

The DIAMINT project aimed at a systematic comparison of dialogue structures, knowledge utilisation and knowledge production in five countries and at the EU level. To this purpose six research teams – one for each of the five national cases and one for the EU – worked together closely for two years, on the basis of a commonly agreed research outline and using the same methodology. DIAMINT was coordinated by three of the editors of this book – Han Entzinger, Peter Scholten and Stijn Verbeek – all based at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Rinus Penninx, who also co-edited this book, was an advisor to the DIAMINT project and facilitated linkages between DIAMINT and related IMISCOE activities.

The data collection of DIAMINT had the following elements: first, in all six cases a general literature analysis was made of history and practices of policy-research relations (both academic and applied research) in general and for the domain of migrant integration in particular. The aim of this was to map historical developments and conditions. In the second phase, and in order to enhance comparability of the data, it was decided that each team should select three concrete examples of science-society dialogues for further analysis. These three ‘themes’ should be as similar as possible, while also covering different dimensions of migrant integration. They should also be relatively recent, that is not older than about 10 years. An additional condition was that the dialogue under consideration should have a ‘public dimension’, that is, it should have received some broader attention than from researchers and policymakers directly involved in that dialogue. One may think here of politicians, the media, NGOs or other stakeholders.

The following concrete themes were selected. The politico-legal dimension was covered by looking at naturalisation policies and dialogues around such policies. In terms of the socio-economic dimension, we looked at policies directed towards the education of migrant children (and second-generation children of migrants). Finally, the socio-cultural dimension was analysed by looking at policymaking and dialogue structures associated with the management of religious diversity in society. All country teams then proceeded to the collection of relevant documents and literature, while some twenty to thirty interviews per country were held with active participants in the dialogues studied and with experts.

Chapters 9 through 13 report on the five national cases in a systematic way, in accordance with a template specially designed to facilitate comparison. Nevertheless, these chapters do each have their specific focus. In her report on the Austrian case (Chap. 9) Maren Borkert argues that for many years the impact of scientific research on policymaking in that country was very limited. Only recently, research-policy dialogues have intensified. The Italian case highlights a rather typical national form of policy-research relations in which coalitions between NGOs and researchers have been of crucial relevance for policy development. This chapter was written by Tiziana Caponio (Chap. 10). Friedrich Heckmann and Delia Wiest (Chap. 11) report on the fundamental changes that have taken place in Germany since 2000, when large parts of the research community and those responsible for integration policies gradually coalesced into a discourse coalition recognising the urgent need for a new integration paradigm in that country. Stijn Verbeek, Han Entzinger and Peter Scholten cover the case of the Netherlands: it adds to the relatively rich literature on that case particularly by focusing on the role of media (Chap. 12). Alistair Hunter and Christina Boswell then report on the British case (Chap. 13), giving special attention to a characteristic form of dialogue in the UK, namely that of government-sponsored commissions.

To these five chapters on country cases two more have been added that were not included in the DIAMINT project, but that were developed parallel to the project along the same template used for the DIAMINT chapters. The first of these chapters (Chap. 14) was written by Mikolaj Pavlak on Poland. It deals with the emergence of research-policy dialogues in a country that is only beginning to be an immigration country and where integration is not yet considered a political priority. It is interesting to note how strong the impact of both NGOs and the EU has been on these early developments. Chapter 15 is a contribution by Martin Bak Jørgensen on Denmark, the only Nordic country included in this book. It shows how volatile research-policy dialogues can become in a country confronted with an early and strong politicisation of immigration and integration. In Chap. 16, the closing contribution to Part II, Andrew Geddes and Marthe Achtnich cover the case of the European Union. For them it was not always possible to follow the template applying to the DIAMINT national cases, since policymaking in the field of integration at the European level is of a completely different nature. It involves a complicated system of dialogue between policymakers and researchers that also has to account for the role of individual member states that may not always agree with EU policies in this politically sensitive area.

Finally, the concluding chapter of the book, written by three of its editors, provides a systematic comparison of findings from the cases studied. We ask what patterns and trends can be found in terms of dialogue structures, knowledge production, and knowledge utilisation, as well as in the relations between these three aspects. We also come back to the conceptualisation and theorisation of research-policy dialogues, as presented in the first part of this chapter.


  1. 1.

    IMISCOE stands for International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion in Europe. It started as an EU-funded Network of Excellence (2004–2010) and continued as an independent consortium of now over 30 research institutes in Europe: see


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Scholten, P., Entzinger, H., Penninx, R. (2015). Research-Policy Dialogues on Migrant Integration in Europe: A Conceptual Framework and Key Questions. In: Scholten, P., Entzinger, H., Penninx, R., Verbeek, S. (eds) Integrating Immigrants in Europe. IMISCOE Research Series. Springer, Cham.

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