Ongoing Research Projects

Ongoing Research Projects

Research at the LKY School addresses real-world policy challenges and explores and advances theoretical concepts across four broad areas: Policy Studies, Public Management and Governance; Social Policy; International Relations and Global Governance; and Economic Development and Competitiveness.

Our research is supported by a variety of sources, including highly competitive external grants from local and international funders.

Policy Studies, Public Management and Governance

Academics in this cluster take a comparative development perspective to examine questions of policy design and implementation, enforcement and regulation, and policy effectiveness, efficiency, fairness and sustainability.

Grant Period : Apr 2017 to Mar 2020

Faculty : LEONG, Ching

Achieving a sustainable water supply takes more than just having a diversified water supply strategy in the form of the Four National Taps. It also requires commitment from every person, community group and organisation to use water wisely. This is especially important because water demand is expected to increase as Singapore continues to grow its economy and population… Managing our water demand is still the way forward towards water sustainability. - from PUB’s Annual Report 2014/15 Our Water: the Flow of Progress

Singaporeans today enjoy excellent water and sanitation services. Over the last fifty years, the country has built a robust, diversified and sustainable water supply from four different sources known as the Four National Taps, i.e. imported water, catchment areas, recycled and desalinated water. More than 5 million people have access to clean, safe water at a turn of a tap. However, securing an adequate water supply is not enough. It is equally important to manage the water demand. Singapore’s national water agency PUB’s Water Conservation Strategy takes on a three-pronged approach with several programmes in place to manage water demand in both the domestic and non-domestic sector. Over the years, the efforts in water conservation have seen Singapore’s per capita domestic water consumption drop from 165 litres per day in 2003 to currently 150 litres. At the same time, a study shows that showering is the single largest source of domestic water consumption, accounting for 29% of water usage in a typical Singaporean household.

One stated goal for PUB is to reduce daily per capita domestic consumption of water to 147 litres by 2020, and to 140 litres by 2030. In this context, the value of the proposed study on how to change individuals’ and/or households’ behaviours regarding water consumption, specifically in a regular water-intense activity such as showering, is clear: It can provide crucial information on how to change how people use water, give insights into how to effectively promote water conservation, and lead to designing more effective policies addressing the problem of increasing water scarcity.

Grant Period : Apr 2017 to Mar 2020

Faculty : LEONG, Ching

Achieving a sustainable water supply takes more than just having a diversified water supply strategy in the form of the Four National Taps. It also requires commitment from every person, community group and organisation to use water wisely. This is especially important because water demand is expected to increase as Singapore continues to grow its economy and population… Managing our water demand is still the way forward towards water sustainability. - from PUB’s Annual Report 2014/15 Our Water: the Flow of Progress

Singaporeans today enjoy excellent water and sanitation services. Over the last fifty years, the country has built a robust, diversified and sustainable water supply from four different sources known as the Four National Taps, i.e. imported water, catchment areas, recycled and desalinated water. More than 5 million people have access to clean, safe water at a turn of a tap. However, securing an adequate water supply is not enough. It is equally important to manage the water demand. Singapore’s national water agency PUB’s Water Conservation Strategy takes on a three-pronged approach with several programmes in place to manage water demand in both the domestic and non-domestic sector. Over the years, the efforts in water conservation have seen Singapore’s per capita domestic water consumption drop from 165 litres per day in 2003 to currently 150 litres. At the same time, a study shows that showering is the single largest source of domestic water consumption, accounting for 29% of water usage in a typical Singaporean household.

One stated goal for PUB is to reduce daily per capita domestic consumption of water to 147 litres by 2020, and to 140 litres by 2030. In this context, the value of the proposed study on how to change individuals’ and/or households’ behaviours regarding water consumption, specifically in a regular water-intense activity such as showering, is clear: It can provide crucial information on how to change how people use water, give insights into how to effectively promote water conservation, and lead to designing more effective policies addressing the problem of increasing water scarcity.

Grant Period : Dec 2016 to Nov 2019

Faculty : AOKI, Naomi

The scholarship on comparative public administration addresses how nation-states differ with respect to their administrative traditions, which consist of ideas and structures’ “that compose more or less enduring pattern in the style and substance of public administration in a particular country or group of countries” (Painter and Peters 2010: 6). these traditions are often classified as Anglo-Saxon, Germanic Continental European, French Continental European, and Scandinavian, differing in respect to government structures, the role of civil society, and the relationship between civil servants and politicians, and state and society, among other considerations.

the aforementioned typology remains predominantly western; my first goal is to develop measures of administrative traditions for a wide pool of East, South, Southeast, and Central Asian economies. Given the multi-faceted conceptions of administrative traditions, I will focus on factors influencing dimensions which arguably determine what Knill (1999) called “administrative reform capacity,” namely, (i) the strength of executive leadership, (ii) the degree of entrenchment of administrative arrangements, and (iii) the political influence of bureaucracies. I propose to (a) collect variables pertinent to these dimensions, (b) use factor or principal component analysis to construct parsimonious measures of administrative traditions, and (c) use the data to systematically compare administrative traditions across Asia.

Measuring administrative traditions over a wider pool of countries is important for three reasons. First, the data would uncover aspects of public administrations that have been passed over by current political and regime indicators, even though public administrations can be influential political entities, and the data would help to enhance our understanding of political and administrative institutions. Second, such cross-country data would eventually open up a new realm of empirical research from a global perspective, with regard to the linkages between the nature of public administration and important variables, including government reform capability, government performance, democracy, equity, and stability.

to showcase how the data can be utilized for hypothesis testing, my second goal is to use it in a cross-country study, examining whether the variation in administrative traditions explains the variation in “administrative reform capacity” as hypothesized by Knill (1999) and whether administrative traditions explain the status of a globally promoted administrative reform across countries. My last goal is to examine a certain aspect of administrative traditions – i.e. the relationship between the state (i.e. public administrators) and society (i.e., citizens) – by focusing on Japan, in whose language I am fluent. to achieve this goal, I plan to collect primary data through a nation-wide survey targeted at Japanese citizens.

I aim to produce three journal articles, each based on one of the three components above. Through this project, I plan to produce data on administrative traditions and a survey questionnaire that can be used by scholars both inside and outside Asia in future research. I also aim to contribute to generating Asia-based knowledge for policy makers in Asia, who are eager to learn from Asia. As for feasibility, the number of countries to be included in the final dataset will have to depend on the availability of data in respective countries. I trust that achieving my last goal is feasible because I have prior experience in conducting a nationwide survey targeted at Japanese citizens.

Grant Period : Feb 2017 to Jan 2020

Faculty : TAN, Soo Jie Sheng

In this proposed project, I intend to study two topics that are important towards understanding the management of environmental public goods and common resources.

First, in absence of strong government regulations, management of common resources or public goods requires voluntary cooperation between private citizens. for example, sustainability of forest usage requires users to adhere to a common code of rules. Similarly, even in urban areas, voluntary cooperation are needed to keep public areas clean. Existing evidence on voluntary contribution towards providing public goods, mostly obtained from laboratory experiments, suggest that most people would cooperate to a certain extent. However, these experiments did not take into account how heterogeneity between individuals affects level of cooperation. As such, I plan to conduct laboratory experiments that will incorporate endowment (wealth) and ethnic heterogeneity to investigate how these parameters affect levels of cooperation.

Second, certain environmental resources such as air and water require the government to play a major role in ensuring that these resources are not over-exploited. towards this end, I will study the efficacy of China’s various policy measures on pollution emissions. China has seen large increases in both air and water pollution in recent decades due to pursuit of economic growth. the Chinese government has recognized pollution control as a major need and instituted numerous policy changes to tackle pollution. Using data on emissions major pollution sources in China, I intend to study how firms react to these policy measures.

Grant Period : Jan 2018 to Dec 2018

Faculty : JENSEN, Olivia

The purpose of the event is to:
(a) Present and discuss the latest high-quality academic research on water policy, focusing on key themes of IWP;
(b) Support collaboration between IWP and researchers from leading global academic institutions and publications;
(c) Help to build partnerships between IWP and international organisations including UNESCO, World Bank and ADB/ADBI and to prepare the ground for IWP's application for accreditation as a UNESCO Category 2 centre;
(d) Commemorate IWP's 10th anniversary and showcase important findings from IWP research projects to an international audience.

Grant Period : Apr 2017 to Mar 2019

Faculty : CHINDARKAR, Namrata

Gender inequality continues to persist and stagnate progress in the developing world. From macro-level policies such as inclusive growth to micro-level interventions such as livelihoods, integrating gender is quintessential to achieving sustainable development. Though women are both direct and indirect beneficiaries of public policies, policy evaluations remain largely blind to gender-disaggregated effects. This study fills this gap by applying a gendered-lens to policy interventions pertaining to sustainable development. the study poses a two-pronged research question – Do public policies have distinct gender effects? How does gender influence the outcomes of policy interventions?

the study will examine a range of development and social policy interventions such as basic infrastructure (water, sanitation, energy), food security, and agriculture.

Grant Period : Apr 2017 to Sep 2019

Faculty : KADIR, Suzaina

Abdurrahman Wahid remains a controversial figure in Indonesia’s political development, as well as in the broader world of political Islam. He has often been described as a Muslim democrat who steered a highly traditionalist (and conservative) Islamic organization onto a path of modernity and moderation. This image of him as a Muslim democrat also paved the way for him to become Indonesia’s first democratically chosen president in the immediate aftermath of Reformasi. But his short tenure as president was riddled with allegations of mismanagement and mid-conduct characterized by chaos and seemingly anti-democratic tendencies.

This project looks at Abdurrahman Wahid squarely within the context of the Nahdlatul Ulama and political Islam in Indonesia, divided into two broad periods i.e. 1984 – 1998 (when he served as executive chairman of PBNU) and then from 1999 – 2006 (when he was formally included in the power structure as President). It explores the Gus Dur amongst the community of religious scholars that make up the NU, and his subsequent attempt at modernizing NU. It also situates Gus Dur within the dynamics of contestation that frames political Islam and the modern state. In so doing, it helps shed light of the controversy around the label of “Muslim Democrat” that continues to plague Wahid as well as questions around his leadership as a reformist president at the start of Indonesia’s democratization.

Within the broader literature on political Islam and Islamism, the place and location of NU is to this day unclear. Many authors place NU within the label of “moderate Islam” or more commonly, “traditionalist.” This project seeks to locate NU within the complex classification of political Islam. It looks specifically at Gus Dur’s tenure over the organization and analyzes its transformation. Where do we locate NU under Gus Dur within the contemporary map of Islamism?

Grant Period : Mar 2018 to Feb 2020

Faculty : VAN DER WAL, Zeger

Increasing interconnectedness, collaboration, and competition in today’s globalized and multi-polar world necessitate a deeper understanding of how and why administrative practices differ across regions and what that means for collaborative potential and performance. Until now, two contrasting scholarly perspectives dominate. the first perspective emphasizes divergence as it suggests that public servants in various hemispheres hold divergent sets of values and attitudes engrained in their respective traditions. the second perspective emphasizes global convergence in administrative practices and norms resulting from greater academic, economic and political exchanges as well as the alleged universal adoption of New Public Management and Good Governance paradigms.

However, empirical comparative studies in Public Administration and Public Management that take into account local and regional particularities in their design, constructs, and interpretation of results, are scarce, with the exception of studies into specific constructs such as public service motivation, work values, and performance appraisal systems. Consistently, scholars engaged in comparative efforts highlight the theoretical, methodological, and empirical difficulties in making cross-national comparisons of public agencies, employees, and practices, as research instruments and assumptions often originate from Western countries. Thus, there is a serious need today for adopting more context-sensitive and balanced approaches to advance our scholarly understanding of administrative systems and practices in different regions and nations.

Grant Period : Apr 2016 to Dec 2018

Faculty : VAN DER WAL, Zeger

This projects aims to identify key components and determinants of public service excellence by comparing HRM and public management practices in 10 countries who’ve shown to do extraordinarily well in the past 30 years on a range of outcomes, including GDP per capita, human development, absence of corruption, innovation and ease of doing business, and so forth.

the proposed research will examine how 10 big performing small countries in the Asia Pacific and Europe - Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong SAR4, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, and Switzerland – organize, staff, and train public sector managerial capacity.

Grant Period : Apr 2018 to Mar 2019

Faculty : DEMIRCIOGLU, Mehmet Akif

Social media are electronic tools that enable and facilitate users to communicate, exchange information, and facilitate interactions among different users. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedln, and YouTube are examples of social media tools. However, despite the importance and premise of the social media, because social media is a relatively recent concept, we have very limited knowledge and understanding of why and how public organizations use social media. In addition, most of the existing studies of social media are predominantly focus on the Western context, particularly in the United States, overlooking the Asian countries. In particular, although Singapore is a leading country in terms of e-government use and innovation at the national level as well as all ministries and agencies are using social media frequently, none of the studies have looked at why and how public agencies in Singapore use social media. This proposal will explore reasons for the adoption of social media usage and analyze why and how public organizations in Singapore use social media. In addition, target audiences, frequency of social media usage, goals of the social media strategy, and perceived outcomes, challenges, and limitations of social media usage will be explored.