Study title
The Swiss Decision-Making System in the Era of Globalization
Ref study 7898
Study language English
Contributing institutions
  • Institutions
  • Globalization
  • Internationalization
  • Decision-making process
  • Power configuration
  • Before-after analysis
  • Network analysis
Geographical space
  • Switzerland
The institutional arrangements that characterize the Swiss, corporatist-like, decision-making system were designed at a time when the impact of the "outside world" on both the form and content of legislative acts was presumably very low. With the deepening of the processes of economic globalization and political internationalization, however, an increasing number of issues that used to be domestic in nature are now co-defined at the international level and/or strongly influenced by norms elaborated abroad.
Against this background, the purpose of this project is to evaluate the impact of the internationalization/globalization processes on the national decision-making system and related institutional arrangements in Switzerland. In order to do so, we shall intend to rely on a double strategy. First, we will carry out a "before-after" analysis, that is, a comparison between the characteristics of the Swiss decision-making institutions and processes in the most recent legislative period (1995-99), with those at an earlier stage of the internationalization process (legislative period 1971-75). While data already exists for the period 1971-75, corresponding data - on the institutional setting, the duration of decision making processes, the importance and level of conflictuality of a given act, etc. - will have to be gathered for the legislature 1995-99. All legislative acts which were treated by the Swiss parliament between 1995 and 1999 and which were either initiated by a popular initiative or subject to a referendum (presumably around 200 acts) will be included in the quantitative analysis. Second, we will carry out a more detailed, but still mostly quantitative, network analysis of a small sample of the "most important" legislative acts of the period 1995-99. We shall focus on three legislative acts that differ with respect to their "international-national" character: a "purely" domestic policy decision, and two types of "mixed" decision. For this part of the study, socio-metric data collected through structured interviews with the relevant political elites will be the main source of information.
The first general assumption of this project is that the process of internationalization has induced changes in the institutional framework of the Swiss decision-making system. Most noticeably, internationalization is expected to have limited the formal consultation/ concertation procedures during the legislative process. The "before-after" analysis will help test whether and to what extent these changes have actually occurred. The second general assumption is that the changes in the decision-making institutions brought about by internationalization have influenced the distribution of political power in the Swiss political system. The policy network analysis in the three selected policy domains will help highlight the possible changes in power relations and how they are related to institutional changes.
The research project started on September 1, 2000. The results will be available by the end of the project (August 31, 2002).
Methods (description)
First part: before-after analysis
Second part: network analysis
- Entretiens standardisés face-to-face, Création d'une banque de données des 208 projets soumis au référendum dans la législature 1995-1999 :
variables: comme Poitry (1989)
- Univers de référence, unité de recherche: legislative periode 1995-1999
- Selection ou échantillonnage :
Before-after analysis: We selected every bill passed by Swiss Parliament and submitted to referendum between 1995-1999.
Network analysis: The selection of the interviews will be based on a combination of positional, decisional and reputational approaches.
- Nombre et/ou taille des objets:
Before-after analysis: 210 bills
Network analysis: about 150 persons
- Design du relevé: unique survey
- Données relevées: by the research team
Methods (instruments)
  • Fischer, Alex; Nicolet, Sarah; Sciarini, Pascal. 2003. Eine politikwissenschaftliche Analyse der Schweizer Telekommunikationsreformen. = Une analyse politologique de la réforme des télécommunications en Suisse. In: Die Volkswirtschaft = La vie économique, Berne, 1/2003, S. 33-33.
  • Fischer, Alex. 2003. Vetospieler und die Durchsetzbarkeit von Side-Payments. Der schweizerische innenpolitische Entscheidungsprozess um flankierende Massnahmen zur Personenfreizügigkeit mit der Europäische Union. In: Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Vol. 9, 2, Zürich, 2003, p.27-58. Online: 10.1002/j.1662-6370.2003.tb00412.x
  • Fischer, Alex; Sciarini, Pascal; Nicolet, Sarah. 2003. La politique des télécommunications suisse: entre pression internationale et résistance nationale. Politique et Management, 2003.
  • Fischer, Alex. 2003. Die Schweizer Gewerkschaften und die Europäisierung helvetischer Politik. In. Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, 3, 2003. Online:
  • Fischer, Alex; Nicolet, Sarah; Sciarini, Pascal. 2002. Europeanisation of a Non-EU Country: The Case of Swiss Immigration Policy. In: West European Politics, 25 (4), 2002, p. 143-170. Online: 10.1080/713601646
  • Fischer, Alex; Nicolet, Sarah; Sciarini, Pascal. 2002. Marschhalt auf der letzten Meile / Schwindender Liberalisierungswillen in der Schweiz. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Seite 73, 28.05.2002.
  • Fischer, Alex. 2002. Wirtschaftsbranche, Gewerkschaftsstärke und Interessengegensätze der Arbeitgeber: der Fall der flankierenden Massnahmen zur Personenfreizügigkeit. In: Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Zürich, Vol. 8, 3/4, 2002, S. 85-100. Online: 10.1002/j.1662-6370.2002.tb00341.x
  • Sciarini, Pascal; Nicolet, Sarah; Fischer, Alex. 2002. L'impact de l'internationalisation sur les processus de décision en Suisse: une analyse quantitative des actes législatifs 1995-1999. In: Revue suisse de science politique, Zurich, Vol. 8, 3/4, 2002, p. 1-34.
  • Fischer, Alex; Nicolet, Sarah; Sciarini, Pascal. 2002. Swisscom doit-elle abandonner son "dernier kilomètre"?. In: Le Temps, Mardi, 4 juin 2002.
Unpublished documents
  • Sciarini, Pascal. The Swiss Decision-Making System in the Era of Globalization. Proposal for the Swiss National Science Fondation.
Financed by
Study type
Data availability
Source (Updates) Email
Date created 08.05.2015
Date modified 08.05.2015
Start - End date 01.09.2000 - 28.08.2002