Employee Profile

Benny Geys

Professor - Campus Bergen

Department of Economics


BENNY GEYS (°1977) is Professor in Economics at BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo and Research Professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). His research focuses on (local) government performance, intergovernmental relations and civic engagement.


Schönhage, Nanna Lauritz & Geys, Benny (2024)

Partisanship, blame avoidance behaviours and voter reactions to allegations of political misconduct

Electoral Studies: an international journal on voting and electoral systems and strategy, 87 Doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2023.102742 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2024)

A Post-politics Earnings Penalty? Evidence from Politicians’ Life-time Income Trajectories (1970-2019)

Kyklos (Basel), 77(1), s. 57- 76. Doi: 10.1111/kykl.12358 - Full text in research archive

Politicians are commonly believed to gain financially from holding and/or having held office. We argue that there may often also be economic downsides to pursuing a political career, and investigate whether and when politicians can(not) capitalize on their political experience. We thereby study both entry into and exit from political office, and directly compare the returns to politics across government levels and types of politicians. Empirically, we build on detailed information from Norwegian administrative register data over the period 1970-2019 to study individual-level income developments before, during and after a political career at the national and local levels (covering nearly 22,000 individuals and 700,000 person-years). Using an event-study methodology, we show that politicians on average witness a significant income boost during their time in office. In sharp contrast, leaving political office is on average associated with a substantial drop in income, which generally outweighs the income gain from entry into office. These findings suggest that most politicians face a net present value loss from holding office.

Schönhage, Nanna Lauritz; Bækgaard, Martin & Geys, Benny (2024)

The politics of distributing blame and credit: Evidence from a survey experiment with Norwegian local politicians

European Journal of Political Research, 63(2), s. 599- 620. Doi: 10.1111/1475-6765.12610 - Full text in research archive

How do politicians attribute responsibility for good and poor policy outcomes across multiple stakeholders in a policy field where they themselves can affect service provision? Such ‘diffusion’ decisions are crucial to understand the political calculations underlying the allocation of blame and credit by office-holders. We study this issue using a between-subjects survey experiment fielded among local politicians in Norway (N = 1073). We find that local politicians attribute responsibility for outcomes in primary education predominantly to school personnel (regardless of whether performance is good or bad) and do not engage in local party-political blame games. However, we show that local politicians are keen to attribute responsibility for poor outcomes to higher levels of government, especially when these are unaligned with the party of the respondent. These findings suggest that vertical partisan blame-shifting prevails over horizontal partisan blame games in settings with a political consensus culture.

Geys, Benny & Mause, Karsten (2023)

Politicians’ Extra-Parliamentary Activities and Lobbying

Mause, Karsten & Polk, Andreas (red.). The Political Economy of Lobbying: Channels of Influence and their Regulation

The extra-parliamentary activities of politicians have long been a highly controversial and heavily debated issue in the public and political spheres of many countries. This chapter provides an overview of the state of academic research into this potential channel of influence for lobbyists seeking to affect public policy decisions. First, the potential problems of politicians’ extra-parliamentary activities are explained on a theoretical level. Then, empirical studies are presented that have investigated the theoretical relationships using real-world data. In addition, we discuss the possibilities of, and limits to, regulating politicians’ extra-parliamentary activities and income.

Geys, Benny; Lægreid, Per, Murdoch, Zuzana & Trondal, Jarle (2023)

Organizational Stability and Resocialization in Public Administrations: Theory and Evidence from Norwegian Civil Servants (1986-2016)

Public Administration Doi: 10.1111/padm.12968 - Full text in research archive

The organizational theory approach to public administration emphasizes that organizational features of public bureaucracies shape civil servants' role perceptions and opinions. This study brings forward a novel refinement of this theoretical framework by arguing that such processes of organizational resocialization require intertemporal consistency of the organizational environment. We empirically test this proposition by combining individual-level longitudinal data from a panel of Norwegian civil servants (1986–2016; N ≈ 375) with information about organizational changes in ministerial structures since 1945. Using individuals' task portfolio as our main organizational “influencer” of interest, we confirm that the impact of individuals' task portfolio on their role perceptions only strengthens over time for individuals working in ministries with a high level of organizational stability. This finding adds an important scope condition—namely, intertemporal stability—to the traditional organizational theory argument about what shapes civil servants' role perceptions and opinions.

Murdoch, Zuzana; MacCarthaigh, Muiris & Geys, Benny (2023)

It's about time! Temporal dynamics and longitudinal research designs in public administration

Public Administration Review, 83(6), s. 1727- 1736. Doi: 10.1111/puar.13758 - Full text in research archive

Many of the fundamental research questions in public administration relate to individual- or organization-level temporal dynamics, including the impact of public sector reforms, (in)stability of public policies and organizations, development of public service motivation, or the workplace socialization of public employees. However, theoretical, methodological, and empirical public administration scholarship continues to take time and temporal dynamics insufficiently seriously. This constitutes a major shortcoming within the profession and implies that we are yet to unlock the transformative potential of longitudinal research. Building on the recent development of novel research infrastructures that can support the study of temporal dynamics of—and within—public organizations, this Symposium pushes for a “longitudinal turn” in the study of public administration. We maintain that more concerted efforts to apply a temporal lens to our research endeavors are critical to theorize, empirically assess, and understand public administrations as well as the bureaucrats employed within them.

Geys, Benny; Lægreid, Per, Murdoch, Zuzana & Trondal, Jarle (2023)

The impact of terrorism on civil servants: Longitudinal evidence from the July 22, 2011 attack in Norway

Public Administration Review, 83(6), s. 1772- 1784. Doi: 10.1111/puar.13694 - Full text in research archive

Building on a growing literature assessing the societal impact of terrorism, this article analyzes whether and how a terror attack targeting public institutions affects civil servants in their day-to-day work. This is an important question to enhance our understanding of how terrorism can (or cannot) affect the operation of core government functions. Theoretically, the study contributes to a broader account of the political consequences of terrorism by combining insights from social identity and organization theory. Empirically, we exploit a two-wave survey fielded before and after the 2011 terror attack in Norway, which allows us to study the same civil servants (N = 186) before and after this event. While terrorists wish to disrupt public institutions, our findings indicate that a terror attack targeting core government institutions strengthens internal cohesion and increases attention to political signals in work tasks. We discuss implications of these effects for the functioning of democratic government.

Geys, Benny (2023)

Fancy Seeing You Here…Again: Uncovering Individual-Level Panel Data in Repeated Cross-Sectional Surveys

Public Administration Review, 83(6), s. 1761- 1771. Doi: 10.1111/puar.13693 - Full text in research archive

Many theories in Public Administration and Public Management explicitly relate to changes over time in the attitudes, values, perceptions, and/or motivations of public-sector employees. Examining such theories using (repeated) cross-sectional datasets may lead to biased inferences and an inability to expose credible causal relationships. As developing individual-level panel datasets is costly and time-consuming, this article presents a method to make better use of existing surveys fielded repeatedly among the same respondent pool without individual identifiers. Specifically, it sets out an approach to create a system of unique identifiers using information about respondents' background characteristics available within the original data. The result is a panel dataset that allows tracking (a subset of) individual respondents across time. The article discusses issues of feasibility, credibility as well as ethical considerations. The methodology has further practical value by highlighting data characteristics that can help minimize identifiability of respondents while creating public-release datasets.

Geys, Benny; Connolly, Sara, Kassim, Hussein & Murdoch, Zuzana (2023)

Staff reallocations and employee attitudes towards organizational aims: evidence using longitudinal data from the European Commission

Public Management Review, 25(12), s. 2323- 2343. Doi: 10.1080/14719037.2023.2222139

Organizational reforms often involve substantial staff reallocations, creating both winners and losers within the same organization. We argue that allocating less (more) staff to a department signals a decrease (increase) in organizational support towards that department and its employees. We hypothesize that staff members respond to this signal by adjusting their support for key organizational aims and their plans to stay in the organization. We test these propositions using a two-wave survey conducted within the European Commission. Consistent with theoretical arguments, we find that staff (re)allocations trigger distinct reactions among winners and losers as well as across staff types.

Carvalho, Bruno P.; Custódio, Claudia, Geys, Benny, Mendes, Diogo & Peralta, Susana (2023)

Information, perceptions, and electoral behaviour of young voters: A randomised controlled experiment

Electoral Studies: an international journal on voting and electoral systems and strategy, 84 Doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2023.102625 - Full text in research archive

The way people absorb and process politically relevant information is central to their subsequent political behaviour (in terms of turnout and vote choice). Nonetheless, little is known about how young voters – who might be more impressionable than more experienced voters – respond to the provision of such information. In this article, we design a between-subject randomised controlled trial that exposes a sample of university students to positive, neutral or negative information about central government performance before the 2017 Portuguese local elections. We find that young voters update their perceptions more when exposed to negative news. This negativity bias is stronger for first-time voters. We also find that negative information significantly affects turnout of initially undecided young voters. Our results imply that sensitivity to information is heterogeneous and that some young voters may be prone to manipulation through the provision of negative news.

Geys, Benny; Murdoch, Zuzana & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2023)

Public Employees as Elected Politicians: Assessing Direct and Indirect Substantive Effects of Passive Representation

Journal of Politics, 86(1), s. 170- 182. Doi: 10.1086/726918

In many countries, public sector employees are eligible to hold political offices during their employment as civil servants. This often triggers conflict-of-interest concerns that elected public employees might sway policies to their professional benefit. In this article, we build on representation scholarship in political science and public administration to assess such substantive effects of public employees’ political representation using detailed Norwegian administrative register and survey data (2003–19). Our main results indicate that public employees differ little from other members within their party in terms of ideology and policy preferences. They do, however, appear to move their party slightly toward the left of the political spectrum, consistent with preference spillover effects induced by heightened public sector representation. Finally, using an instrumental variable approach exploiting close elections, we find that political representation of public employees is associated with at best modest public spending, employment, and wage effects at the local level.

Schönhage, Nanna Lauritz & Geys, Benny (2023)

Politicians and Scandals that Damage the Party Brand

Legislative Studies Quarterly, 48(2), s. 305- 331. Doi: 10.1111/lsq.12377

Scandals can cause serious damage to political parties’ brand name and reputation, which may taint all members of the party—even those not implicated in the scandal. In this article, we therefore explore how (uninvolved) politicians are likely to react to the eruption of such events. Building on a survey among UK local councilors (N = 2133), we first document the prevalence of distinct response strategies (such as distancing oneself from the scandal-hit party or redirecting attention to similar events in other parties). Then, building on a between-subject survey-experimental design, we assess the moderating roles of partisanship and scandal type. We show that a scandal in one’s own party reduces the probability of distancing oneself from the scandal-hit party (particularly among men). We also find that scandal type matters: pointing out similar scandals in other parties is less likely for sex scandals compared to financial scandals (particularly among women).

Geys, Benny & Mause, Karsten (2022)

Politiker-Nebentätigkeiten als Einflusskanal für Lobbying

Mause, Karsten & Polk, Andreas (red.). Handbuch Lobbyismus

Die Nebentätigkeiten von Politikerinnen und Politikern sind in Deutschland, Großbritannien und anderen Ländern seit Jahren Gegenstand kontroverser Diskussionen in Politik und Öffentlichkeit. Dieser Beitrag gibt einen Überblick über den Stand der Forschung zu diesem möglichen Einflusskanal des Lobbyismus. Zunächst werden auf theoretisch-konzeptioneller Ebene die potenziellen Probleme der Nebentätigkeitspraxis erläutert. Anschließend werden empirische Studien vorgestellt, die die theoretischen Zusammenhänge in der Realität untersucht haben. Zudem diskutiert der Beitrag die Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Regulierung von Nebentätigkeiten und Nebeneinkünften.

Geys, Benny; Heggedal, Tom-Reiel & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2022)

Age and vote choice: Is there a conservative shift among older voters?

Electoral Studies: an international journal on voting and electoral systems and strategy, 78 Doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2022.102485 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2022)

Public Sector Employment and Voter Turnout

American Political Science Review, 116(1), s. 367- 373. Doi: 10.1017/S000305542100099X - Full text in research archive

Does working in the public rather than the private sector have a causal effect on electoral participation? Extant evidence using cross-sectional survey data remains unpersuasive due to data limitations and concerns posed by preference-based job selection. We address these challenges using population-wide individual-level register data on voter turnout covering four Norwegian local and national elections between 2013 and 2019. We identify causal effects by tracking the same individuals over time during (a) shifts between private- and public-sector employment, (b) relocations between municipalities, and (c) shifts into retirement. We find that local public-sector employees display 1–3 percentage points higher voter turnout compared with private-sector employees. These effects arise particularly when working in their residential municipality, but they largely dissipate upon retirement.

Schönhage, Nanna Lauritz & Geys, Benny (2022)

Partisan bias in politicians’ perception of scandals

Party Politics, 28(4), s. 691- 701. Doi: 10.1177/1354068821998024 - Full text in research archive

Do politicians perceive scandals differently when they implicate members of their own party rather than another party? We address this question using a between-subject survey experiment, whereby we randomly assign UK local councillors (N - 2133) to vignettes describing a major national-level scandal in their own party versus another party. Our results show that local politicians perceive a significantly larger impact of this national scandal on the national party image when it concerns their own party (relative to another party). When evaluating the same scandal’s impact on the local party image, no similar effect is observed. This suggests that local politicians tone down the local impact of a national scandal more when thinking about their own party. We suggest this derives from a form of motivated reasoning whereby politicians selectively focus on information allowing a more negative view of direct electoral opponents. These findings arise independent of the type of scandal under consideration

Murdoch, Zuzana; Connolly, Sara Jane, Kassim, Hussein & Geys, Benny (2022)

Legitimacy Crises and the Temporal Dynamics of Bureaucratic Representation

Governance. An International Journal of Policy, Administration and Institutions, 35(1), s. 65- 82. Doi: 10.1111/gove.12569 - Full text in research archive

The representation of specific groups and social interests within (or by) the civil service has long been a concern of public administration scholarship. Yet, much of this literature focuses on representation at a single point in time. In this article, we propose a more dynamic perspective. In terms of theory, we postulate specific temporal relationships between triggering cues (e.g., a crisis event) and the representation decisions of civil servants. We specify two complementary mechanisms underlying these relationships: that is, a sensemaking process whereby the perceived meaning and relative salience of distinct groups and interests changes over time; and a shift in bureaucrats' discretion to represent specific groups or interests changes over time. We illustrate these time-dependent processes using interview and survey data from the European Commission.

Geys, Benny; Murdoch, Zuzana & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2021)

Political (Over)Representation of Public Sector Employees and the Double-Motive Hypothesis: Evidence from Norwegian Register Data (2007-2019)

Journal of public administration research and theory, 32(2), s. 326- 341. Doi: 10.1093/jopart/muab034 - Full text in research archive

Titl, Vitezslav; De Witte, Kristof & Geys, Benny (2021)

Political Donations, Public Procurement and Government Efficiency

World Development, 148(105666) Doi: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2021.105666 - Full text in research archive

Public procurement markets are worth 10–15% of global GDP. Recent empirical evidence suggests that firms’ political donations can induce important distortions in the allocation of public procurement contracts. In this article, we employ a non-parametric efficiency model to study the implications of such distortions for the regional governments’ efficiency. Using a unique dataset covering the Czech regions over the 2007–2017 period, we find that the efficiency of public good provision is lower when a larger share of public procurement contracts is awarded to firms donating to the party in power (‘party donors’) – even when we account for quality differences in public goods provision. We link the dependence on politically connected firms to the institutional design of the procurement allocation process (i.e. the use of less restrictive and less open allocation procedures), which helps explaining the mechanics behind the observed decrease in efficiency.

Achbari, Wahideh; Geys, Benny & Doosje, Bert Jan (2021)

Comparing the effect of cross-group friendship on generalized trust to its effect on prejudice: The mediating role of threat perceptions and negative affect

PLOS ONE Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0245983 - Full text in research archive

Intergroup relations theory posits that cross-group friendship reduces threat perceptions and negative emotions about outgroups. This has been argued to mitigate the negative effects of ethnic diversity on generalized trust. Yet, direct tests of this friendship-trust relation, especially including perceptions of threat and negative affect as mediators, have remained rare at the individual level. In this article, we bridge this research gap using representative data from eight European countries (Group-Focused Enmity). We employ structural equation modelling (SEM) to model mediated paths of cross-group friendship on generalized trust via perceptions of threat and negative affect. We find that both the total effect as well as the (mediated) total indirect effect of cross-group friendship on generalized trust are weak when compared with similar paths estimated for prejudice.

Fiva, Jon H.; Geys, Benny, Heggedal, Tom-Reiel & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2021)

Political Alignment and Bureaucratic Pay

Journal of public administration research and theory, 31(3), s. 596- 615. Doi: 10.1093/jopart/muaa053 - Full text in research archive

Building on agency-theoretical perspectives of public bureaucracies, we argue that politician–bureaucrat preference alignment can have important implications for bureaucrats’ pay. We study such private gains to bureaucrats from their political alignment with elected politicians using detailed data on all 1,632 top administrators active in all Norwegian municipalities over a period of 25 years (1991–2015). Whereas existing studies generally rely on proxies for politician–bureaucrat political alignment, a rare feature of our data allows measuring it directly since 27% of top bureaucrats ran for political office. We focus explicitly on individuals at the very top of the administrative hierarchy and are able to separate the intensive margin (i.e., wage increases) from any additional effects at the extensive margin (i.e., new appointments). Using close elections for inference in a regression discontinuity analysis, we find that politician–bureaucrat alignment significantly increases top bureaucrats’ wage even in the Norwegian civil service system. This has important implications also from a theoretical perspective. Our results indeed go against predictions from models with policymotivated bureaucrats, but are consistent with politically aligned principal–agent matches being more productive.

Geys, Benny & schönhage, Nanna Lauritz (2021)

Party Cues and Incumbent Assessments under Multilevel Governance

Electoral Studies: an international journal on voting and electoral systems and strategy, 69 Doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2020.102260 - Full text in research archive

Politicians' party membership allows voters to overcome incomplete information issues. In this article, we maintain that such ‘party cues’ in multilevel governance structures also induce voters to incorporate their assessment of incumbents at one level of government into their assessment of incumbents at other levels of government. Moreover, we argue that these assessment ‘spillovers’ increase in magnitude with voters' level of political information. They become particularly prominent for voters with higher levels of political knowledge and interest as well as during election periods (when information is less costly and more readily available). Empirical analyses using survey data from Germany covering the period 1990 to 2018 corroborate our theoretical propositions.

Geys, Benny & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2020)

Administrative Delegation in Budgetary Powers and Fiscal Performance

Kyklos (Basel), 73(4), s. 477- 499. Doi: 10.1111/kykl.12248 - Full text in research archive

Does delegation of the budget preparation process to top civil servants improve or worsen fiscal performance? We address this question by analyzing high‐quality data on budgetary procedures and fiscal performance over a 25‐year period in Norwegian local governments. This long time period allows exploiting substantial variation in budgetary procedures across time and space. The results show that administrative delegation decreases fiscal deficits as a share of current revenues. Compared to procedures relying on political coordination or the traditional ‘bottom‐up’ procedure, deficits are approximately 0.3 percentage points lower on average under administrative delegation. Still, this effect is conditional upon the presence of minority governments and fails to materialize when the mayor enjoys majority support in the local council. Our results thus indicate that administrative delegation in budgetary processes may constitute an important tool to alleviate poor fiscal performance arising due to political coordination failures and weak political decision‐making.

Daniele, Gianmarco; Galetta, Sergio & Geys, Benny (2020)

Abandon Ship? Party Brands and Politicians’ Responses to a Political Scandal

Journal of Public Economics, 184 Doi: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2020.104172 - Full text in research archive

Political scandals often trigger responses from voters and the implicated politicians. In this article, we extend the analysis to politicians who are only indirectly affected by a scandal through their affiliation with the involved party. Overcoming endogeneity concerns by analyzing the local implications of the largest national scandal in recent Italian history (“Clean Hands”), our main results show that local politicians withdraw support from incumbents in parties hit by Clean Hands – inducing early government dissolutions in such municipalities. Consistent with these municipality-level findings, we then illustrate that local politicians from the implicated parties exhibit lower re-running rates and higher rates of party switching in the short term. In the medium term, we find that corruption and voter turnout are lower in competitive municipalities ‘treated’ with a mayor from the implicated parties during Clean Hands. Moreover, medium-term upward career mobility of local politicians from the implicated parties benefited from party switching.

Geys, Benny & Hernæs, Øystein Marianssønn (2020)

Party leaders and voter responses to political terrorism

Public Choice, 187(3), s. 481- 499. Doi: 10.1007/s11127-020-00789-3 - Full text in research archive

In this article, we study the political implications of terrorism rooted in extremist political ideologies. Our data uniquely allow studying the potential role of party leader evaluations on political outcomes, including voter turnout and vote choice. To strengthen causal identification, we combine an event-study framework with the fact that Norwegians were affected personally to differing degrees by the 22 July 2011 terror attack because of variation in the victims’ municipalities of residence. Our main findings suggest that extreme right-wing terrorism influences party vote intentions and evaluations of political leaders strongly in the short run, as well as party choice in actual elections in the longer run. We document shifts within Norway’s left-right political blocs rather than shifts between those blocs frequently observed following religious/separatist violence.

Geys, Benny; Connolly, Sara Jane, Kassim, Hussein & Murdoch, Zuzana (2020)

Follow the Leader? Leader Succession and Staff Attitudes in Public Sector Organizations.

Public Administration Review, 80(4), s. 555- 564. Doi: 10.1111/puar.13189 - Full text in research archive

Public sector organizations face regular turnover in top leadership positions. Yet little is known about how such changes affect staff attitudes. The authors argue that top leader succession may influence staff attitudes, particularly when new leaders are “outsiders” and/or subordinates interact regularly with their leaders. Using a unique two-wave survey conducted within the European Commission in 2008 and 2014, this analysis tests these propositions by studying the same individuals before and after shifts in top political (commissioner) and administrative (director-general) positions. The study shows that leadership succession can trigger meaningful shifts in subordinates’ stated attitudes regarding the European Commission’s supranational identity. These findings are important because staff attitudes about organizational values and aims represent a key driver of individual and organizational performance.

Geys, Benny; Heggedal, Tom-Reiel & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2020)

Popular support for environmental protection: A life-cycle perspective

British Journal of Political Science, 51(3), s. 1348- 1355. Doi: 10.1017/S0007123419000607

Support for environmental protection is generally perceived as driven by cohort or generational effects. We argue and empirically illustrate that such attitudes also fluctuate over the life cycle. Using rotating panels of the Norwegian Election Studies (1989-2013), our analysis is able to identify such life-cycle effects while controlling for cohort and period effects through a methodological innovation exploiting the first-derivative properties of the environmental concern function. Our main findings provide strong evidence of an inverted U-shape over the life cycle, which implies that substantial population aging in advanced economies may partially offset any generational shift towards a greater emphasis on protecting the environment.

Geys, Benny & Konrad, Kai A. (2020)

Patriotism and taxation

Sardoč, Mitja (red.). Handbook of Patriotism

Geys, Benny & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2019)

The Impact of Women above the Political Glass Ceiling: Evidence from a Norwegian Executive Gender Quota Reform

Electoral Studies: an international journal on voting and electoral systems and strategy, 60, s. 1- 10. Doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2019.102050 - Full text in research archive

Women have historically been underrepresented in democratic assemblies, particularly in top positions with executive powers. Most gender quota reforms address this by mandating a more equal gender representation on election lists. In contrast, a 1992 legislative reform in Norway required parties' candidate lists for the local executive board to comprise at least 40% politicians of each gender. This legal change was not only exogenously imposed by a higher-level government, but also generated distinct quota-induced constraints across Norwegian municipalities. We exploit the resulting variation in ‘quota shocks’ using a difference-in-differences design to identify the quota's effect on women's political representation as well as local public policies. We find that more women enter the executive board after the reform, though spill-overs on women's representation in the local council and on the probability of a female mayor or top administrator are weak. We also find no consistent evidence for shifts in public policies due to increased representation of women in positions with executive powers.

Murdoch, Zuzana; Kassim, Hussein, Connolly, Sara & Geys, Benny (2019)

Do international institutions matter? Socialization and international bureaucrats

European Journal of International Relations, 25(3), s. 852- 877. Doi: 10.1177/1354066118809156

Titl, Vitezslav & Geys, Benny (2019)

Political Donations and the Allocation of Public Procurement Contracts

European Economic Review, 111, s. 443- 458. Doi: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2018.11.004 - Full text in research archive

We study whether and when firms’ donations to political parties induce favouritism in public procurement allocations. Our analysis builds on a unique, comprehensive dataset covering all public procurement contracts and all corporate donations to major political parties in the Czech Republic over the period from 2007 to 2014, and exploits changes in political control over regional governments within this period for identification purposes. We find that firms donating 10% more to a political party gaining (losing) power witness an increase (decrease) in the value of their public procurement contracts by 0.5–0.6%. Importantly, and in line with theoretical expectations, these effects only arise for contracts allocated under less restrictive procurement allocation processes. Assessing the underlying mechanisms, we show that donating firms receive more small contracts allocated under less regulated procurement procedures, face less competition in more regulated and open procurement procedures, and tend to win with bids further above the estimated cost of the procurement contract.

Boenisch, Peter; Geys, Benny & Michelsen, Claus (2019)

David and Goliath in the Poll Booth: Group Size, Political Power and Voter Turnout

Local Government Studies, 45, s. 724- 747. Doi: 10.1080/03003930.2018.1510390 - Full text in research archive

This article analyses how the presence of a dominant group of voters within the electorate affects voter turnout. Theoretically, we argue that its absolute size affects turnout via increased free-riding incentives and reduced social pressure to vote within a larger dominant group. Its relative size compared to other groups within the electorate influences turnout through instrumental and expressive responses – in both the dominant and dominated groups – to the degree of electoral competition between groups. Empirical evidence from a large cross section of German municipalities is in line with these theoretical predictions. The observed effects should be taken into account when redesigning electoral jurisdictions through, for instance, municipal mergers or gerrymandering.

Slegten, Caroline; Geys, Benny & Heyndels, Bruno (2019)

Sex differences in budgetary preferences among Flemish local politicians

Acta Politica, 54, s. 540- 563. Doi: 10.1057/s41269-018-0090-4 - Full text in research archive

De Witte, Kristof; Geys, Benny & Schönhage, Nanna Lauritz (2018)

Strategic public policy around population thresholds

Journal of Urban Economics, 106(July), s. 46- 58. Doi: 10.1016/j.jue.2018.06.001 - Full text in research archive

Political economists have long maintained that politicians respond to both (re-)election and financial incentives. This article contributes to the latter literature by analysing whether, when and how local office-holders respond to the economic incentives embedded in exogenously imposed population thresholds leading to an increased number and remuneration of local politicians. Building on insights from the urban economics and public finance literatures, we argue that local politicians may strategically adjust fiscal and housing policies to stimulate in-migration when approaching a population threshold where their remuneration increases. Using data from all 589 Belgian municipalities over the period 1977–2016, our results confirm that approaching important population thresholds causes lower local tax rates and the granting of additional building permits (particularly for apartments). These policy changes occur early in the election cycle and, at least for housing policy, are restricted to incumbent mayors themselves expecting to benefit from crossing the population threshold.

Holm, Joshua & Geys, Benny (2018)

Social Identification and Redistribution in Heterogeneous Federations: Evidence from Germany and Belgium

Comparative Political Studies, 51(9), s. 1177- 1207. Doi: 10.1177/0010414017730081 - Full text in research archive

Recent evidence of increasing income heterogeneity within developed countries has reignited debates concerning the redistribution of income and wealth. In this article, we contribute to this debate by assessing the role of individuals’ jurisdictional identification for their preferences toward intrafederation redistributive financial flows. Incorporating insights from social identity theory in a model of redistributive taxation, we show that federal, rather than local, identification can lead individuals to shift their redistribution preferences independent of their narrowly defined personal economic interests. Moreover, contrary to conventional wisdom, welfare state support will sometimes be decreasing in national identification. We empirically assess these predictions using individual-level data from the 2008 German General Social Survey (ALLBUS) and a 2013-2014 survey among Belgian local politicians. Our findings provide strong support for the model’s core predictions in both settings

Geys, Benny & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2018)

Never Change a Winning Policy? Public Sector Performance and Politicians’ Preferences for Reforms

Public Administration Review, 78(2), s. 206- 216. Doi: 10.1111/puar.12824 - Full text in research archive

Despite the increasing stress on performance in public sector organizations, there is still little empirical evidence on whether—and if so, how—politicians respond to performance information. This article addresses this research gap by linking registry statistics on school performance in Norway's 428 municipalities with data from an information experiment embedded in a survey of local politicians. Findings show that school performance bears only a weak relationship to politicians' preferences for resource-related reforms, but it strongly affects preferences for governance-related reforms, indicating the importance of accounting for heterogeneity across alternative types of (school) reforms. Moreover, local politicians are, on average, well informed about school performance. This reflects the force of local inhabitants' high information level on politicians' accountability.

Trondal, Jarle; Murdoch, Zuzana & Geys, Benny (2018)

How pre- and post-recruitment factors shape role perceptions of European Commission officials

Governance. An International Journal of Policy, Administration and Institutions, 31(1), s. 85- 101. Doi: 10.1111/gove.12269 - Full text in research archive

Individuals' role perceptions are central guides to their behavior and choices as members of an organization. Understanding organizational dynamics thus requires knowledge about the determinants of such role perceptions, as well as whether—and when—organizations can influence them. This article brings forward a theoretical framework allowing for both prerecruitment (extraorganizational) and post-recruitment (intraorganizational) determinants of individuals' role perceptions, and examines its empirical implications using a large-N data set of temporary officials in the European Commission. We find that intergovernmental and epistemic role perceptions are strongly linked to pre-recruitment factors (such as educational and professional background), whereas postrecruitment factors (such as length of affiliation and embeddedness within the Commission) are the main driving force behind supranational and departmental role perceptions. This heterogeneity in the importance of pre- and postrecruitment factors for distinct role perceptions has important consequences for conceptualizing organizational change.

Geys, Benny & Qari, Salmai (2017)

Will you still trust me tomorrow? The causal effect of terrorism on social trust

Public Choice, 173(3-4), s. 289- 305. Doi: 10.1007/s11127-017-0477-1 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny; Heggedal, Tom-Reiel & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2017)

Are Bureaucrats Paid like CEOs? Performance Compensation and Turnover of Top Civil Servants

Journal of Public Economics, 152, s. 47- 54. Doi: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2017.05.006

Recent research explores the effect of financial and career incentives on public-sector hiring processes and subsequent performance. The reverse relation between performance and bureaucrats’ compensation and turnover has received only limited attention. Due to the distinct features of public-sector organizations, bureaucrats are traditionally argued to require either permanent positions and fixed wages, or low-powered performance incentives. This article studies how the performance of top civil servants in Norwegian local governments affects their compensation and turnover. We thereby build on a unique new dataset over the period 1991-2014. Our results indicate that better performing top civil servants obtain a higher compensation and are less likely to be replaced. Nonetheless, these incentives remain low-powered in line with agency theory prescriptions.

Geys, Benny (2017)

Do Voluntary Associations Show their Bright or Dark Side under Adverse Societal Shocks? Evidence from 9/11

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 46(6), s. 1189- 1208. Doi: 10.1177/0899764017718634 - Full text in research archive

Kuehnhanss, Colin; Murdoch, Zuzana, Geys, Benny & Heyndels, Bruno (2017)

Identity, threat aversion, and civil servants’ policy preferences: Evidence from the European Parliament

Public Administration, 95(4), s. 1009- 1025. Doi: 10.1111/padm.12348 - Full text in research archive

Mahieu, Bram; Geys, Benny & Heyndels, Bruno (2017)

Fiscal fairness as a political argument

Kyklos (Basel), 70(4), s. 622- 640. Doi: 10.1111/kykl.12151 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny & Smith, Daniel Markham (2017)

Political Dynasties in Democracies: Causes, Consequences and Remaining Puzzles

Economic Journal, 127(605), s. 446- 454. Doi: 10.1111/ecoj.12442 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny (2017)

Political Dynasties, Electoral Institutions and Politicians’ Human Capital

Economic Journal, 127(605), s. F474- F494. Doi: 10.1111/ecoj.12444 - Full text in research archive

Hassan, Mamdouh & Geys, Benny (2017)

What Do We Value Most In Schools? An Empirical Study of Stakeholders’ Preference Rankings of School Attributes

Social Science Quarterly, 98(5), s. 1313- 1327. Doi: 10.1111/ssqu.12337 - Full text in research archive

Murdoch, Zuzana; Trondal, Jarle & Geys, Benny (2016)

Representative bureaucracy and seconded national government officials in the European Commission

Regulation & Governance, 10(4), s. 335- 349. Doi: 10.1111/rego.12089 - Full text in research archive

Freier, Ronny; Geys, Benny & Holm, Joshua (2016)

Religious Heterogeneity and Fiscal Policy: Evidence from German Reunification

Journal of Urban Economics, 94, s. 1- 12. Doi: 10.1016/j.jue.2016.05.001 - Full text in research archive

Blockmans, Tom; Geys, Benny, Heyndels, Bruno & Mahieu, Bram (2016)

Bargaining complexity and the duration of government formation: evidence from Flemish municipalities

Public Choice, 167(1-2), s. 131- 143. Doi: 10.1007/s11127-016-0333-8 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2016)

Revenue scarcity and government outsourcing: Evidence from Norwegian local governments

Public Administration, 94(3), s. 769- 788. Doi: 10.1111/padm.12262 - Full text in research archive

Cancela, Joao & Geys, Benny (2016)

Explaining Voter Turnout: A Meta-Analysis of National and Subnational Elections

Electoral Studies: an international journal on voting and electoral systems and strategy, 42(June), s. 264- 275. Doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2016.03.005 - Full text in research archive

Hassan, Mamdouh & Geys, Benny (2016)

Expectations, Realizations, and Approval of Tablet Computers in an Educational Setting

Journal of educational change, 17(2), s. 171- 190. Doi: 10.1007/s10833-015-9270-4 - Full text in research archive

Hassan, Mamdouh & Geys, Benny (2016)

Who Should Pick up the Bill? Distributing the Financial Burden of Technological Innovations in Schools

Computers & Education, 94, s. 193- 203. Doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2015.11.018 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny & Mause, Karsten (2016)

The Limits of Electoral Control: Evidence from Last-Term Politicians

Legislative Studies Quarterly, 41(4), s. 873- 898. Doi: 10.1111/lsq.12136 - Full text in research archive

Daniele, Gianmarco & Geys, Benny (2016)

Family Ties and Socio-Economic Outcomes in High vs Low Income Countries

Journal of Development Studies, 52(6), s. 813- 823. Doi: 10.1080/00220388.2015.1098630 - Full text in research archive

Exbrayat, Nelly & Geys, Benny (2016)

Economic Integration, Corporate Tax Incidence and Fiscal Compensation

The World Economy, 39(11), s. 1792- 1811. Doi: 10.1111/twec.12323 - Full text in research archive

Trondal, Jarle; Murdoch, Zuzana & Geys, Benny (2015)

On Trojan Horses and revolving doors: Assessing the autonomy of national officials in the European Commission

European Journal of Political Research, 54(2), s. 249- 270. Doi: 10.1111/1475-6765.12080 - Full text in research archive

National officials working in international bureaucracies regularly invoke the fear that member states strategically use such officials for influencing decision making and agenda-setting to their advantage. This article theoretically analyses conditions under which the autonomy of national civil servants in international bureaucracies might become compromised. The ensuing predictions are then tested using a unique survey among seconded national experts (SNEs) in the European Commission (N ≈ 400). Finally, evaluating the characteristics linked to reduced autonomy among SNEs in the Commission, the article illustrates that these officials are, in practice, likely to be relatively independent from member state influence.

Asatryan, Zareh; Feld, Lars P. & Geys, Benny (2015)

Partial Fiscal Decentralization and Subnational Government Fiscal Discipline: Empirical Evidence from OECD Countries

Public Choice, 163(3-4), s. 307- 320. Doi: 10.1007/s11127-015-0250-2 - Full text in research archive

Daniele, Gianmarco & Geys, Benny (2015)

Interpersonal Trust and Welfare State Support

European Journal of Political Economy, 39, s. 1- 12. Doi: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2015.03.005

Daniele, Gianmarco & Geys, Benny (2015)

Public support for European fiscal integration in times of crisis

Journal of European Public Policy, 22(5), s. 650- 670. Doi: 10.1080/13501763.2014.988639 - Full text in research archive

Trondal, Jarle; Murdoch, Zuzana & Geys, Benny (2015)

Representative Bureaucracy and the Role of Expertise in Politics

Politics and Governance, 3(1), s. 26- 36. Doi: 10.17645/pag.v3i1.65 - Full text in research archive

Daniele, Gianmarco & Geys, Benny (2015)

Organized Crime, Institutions and Political Quality: Empirical Evidence from Italian Municipalities

Economic Journal, 125(586), s. F233- F255. Doi: 10.1111/ecoj.12237 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny (2015)

Looks Good, You're Hired? Evidence from Extra-Parliamentary Activities of German Parliamentarians

The German Economic Review, 16(1), s. 1- 12. Doi: 10.1111/geer.12041

Geys, Benny & Mause, Karsten (2014)


Backhaus, Jûrgen Georg (red.). Encyclopedia of Law and Economics

Murdoch, Zuzana & Geys, Benny (2014)

Institutional dynamics in international organisations: Lessons from the recruitment procedures of the European External Action Service

Organization Studies, 35(12), s. 1793- 1811. Doi: 10.1177/0170840614544558 - Full text in research archive

De Witte, Kristof; Geys, Benny & Solondz, Catharina (2014)

Public Expenditures, Educational Outcomes and Grade Inflation: Theory and Evidence from a Policy Intervention in the Netherlands

Economics of Education Review, 40, s. 152- 166. Doi: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2014.02.003

Ashworth, John; Geys, Benny, Heyndels, Bruno & Wille, Fanny (2014)

Competition in the political arena and local government performance

Applied Economics, 46(19), s. 2264- 2276. Doi: 10.1080/00036846.2014.899679

Geys, Benny (2014)

Better Not Look Too Nice? Employees’ Preferences Towards (Un)Likeable Managers

Leadership Quarterly, 25(5), s. 875- 884. Doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2014.02.001 - Full text in research archive

Geys, Benny & Vermeir, Jan (2014)

Party Cues in Elections under Multi-Level Governance: Theory and Evidence from US States

Journal of the European Economic Association, 12(4), s. 1029- 1058. Doi: 10.1111/jeea.12081 - Full text in research archive

Exbrayat, Nelly & Geys, Benny (2014)

Trade integration and corporate income tax differentials: theory and evidence from OECD countries

International Tax and Public Finance, 21(2), s. 298- 323. Doi: 10.1007/s10797-013-9270-3

Geys, Benny & Mause, Karsten (2014)

Are Female Legislators Different? Exploring Sex Differences in German MPs’ Outside Interests

Parliamentary Affairs, 67(4), s. 841- 865. Doi: 10.1093/pa/gss090 - Full text in research archive

Michelsen, Claus; Geys, Benny & Boenisch, Peter (2014)

(De)Centralization and voter turnout: Theory and evidence from German municipalities

Public Choice, 159(3-4), s. 469- 483. Doi: 10.1007/s11127-013-0061-2

Geys, Benny & Osterloh, Steffen (2013)

Borders as boundaries to fiscal policy interactions? An empirical analysis of politicians' opinions on rivals in the competition for firms

Journal of Regional Science, 53(4), s. 583- 606. Doi: 10.1111/jors.12029

Geys, Benny; Heinemann, Friedrich & Kalb, Alexander (2013)

Local Government Efficiency in German Municipalities

Raumforschung und Raumordnung, 71(4), s. 283- 293. Doi: 10.1007/s13147-012-0191-x

De Witte, Kristof & Geys, Benny (2013)

Citizen coproduction and efficient public good provision: Theory and evidence from local public libraries

European Journal of Operational Research, 224(3), s. 592- 602. Doi: 10.1016/j.ejor.2012.09.002

Geys, Benny (2013)

Election Cycles in MPs' Outside Interests? The UK House of Commons, 2005-2010

Political Studies, 61(2), s. 462- 472. Doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2012.00956.x

Geys, Benny & Mause, Karsten (2013)

Moonlighting Politicians: A Survey and Research Agenda

The Journal of Legislative Studies, 19(1), s. 76- 97. Doi: 10.1080/13572334.2013.737158

Geys, Benny (2012)

Limitations of the KISS Principle and a Strong Organisational Society: A Rejoinder to Wollebaek and Selle

Journal of Civil Society, 8(2), s. 201- 206. Doi: 10.1080/17448689.2012.686753

Geys, Benny & Mause, Karsten (2012)

Delegation, Accountability and Legislator Moonlighting: Agency Problems in Germany

German Politics, 21(3), s. 255- 273. Doi: 10.1080/09644008.2012.716040

Ben-Bassat, Avi; Dahan, Momi, Geys, Benny & Klor, Esteban F. (2012)

The Impact of the Economic Costs of Conflict on Individuals’ Political Attitudes

Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, 18(2) Doi: 10.1515/1554-8597.1256

Geys, Benny & Murdoch, Zuzana (2012)

Instrumental Calculation, Cognitive Role-Playing, or Both? Self-Perceptions of Seconded National Experts in the European Commission

Journal of European Public Policy, 19(9), s. 1357- 1376. Doi: 10.1080/13501763.2012.677186

Geys, Benny (2012)

Success and Failure in Electoral Competition: Selective Issue Emphasis under Incomplete Issue Ownership

Electoral Studies: an international journal on voting and electoral systems and strategy, 31(2), s. 406- 412. Doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2012.01.005

Geys, Benny (2012)

Association Membership and Generalised Trust: Are Connections Between Associations Losing their Value?

Journal of Civil Society, 8(1), s. 1- 15. Doi: 10.1080/17448689.2012.665646

Griesshaber, Nicolas & Geys, Benny (2012)

Civic Engagement and Corruption in 20 European Democracies

European Societies, 14(1), s. 57- 81. Doi: 10.1080/14616696.2011.638084

Qari, Salmai; Konrad, Kai A. & Geys, Benny (2012)

Patriotism, taxation and international mobility

Public Choice, 151(3-4), s. 695- 717. Doi: 10.1007/s11127-011-9765-3

Kalb, Alexander; Geys, Benny & Heinemann, Friedrich (2012)

Value for money? German local government efficiency in a comparative perspective

Applied Economics, 44(2), s. 201- 218. Doi: 10.1080/00036846.2010.502110

Geys, Benny & Revelli, Federico (2011)

Economic and political foundations of local tax structures: an empirical investigation of the tax mix of Flemish municipalities

Environment and Planning. C, Government and Policy, 29(3), s. 410- 427. Doi: 10.1068/c10116r

De Witte, Kristof & Geys, Benny (2011)

Evaluating efficient public good provision: Theory and evidence from a generalised conditional efficiency model for public libraries

Journal of Urban Economics, 69(3), s. 319- 327. Doi: 10.1016/j.jue.2010.12.002

Geys, Benny & Konrad, Kai A. (2010)

Federalism and optimal allocation across levels of governance

Enderlein, Henrik; Wälti, Sonja & Michael, Zürn (red.). Handbook on Multi-Level Governance

Geys, Benny & Murdoch, Zuzana (2010)

Measuring the 'Bridging' versus 'Bonding' Nature of Social Networks: A Proposal for Integrating Existing Measures

Sociology, 44(3), s. 523- 540. Doi: 10.1177/0038038510362474

Recent research illustrates that two distinct interpretations and operationalizations of ?bridging? and ?bonding? social networks co-exist in the literature (based on links between diverse networks or between socio-economic groups within a given network, respectively), and that these do not coincide in empirical applications. The present contribution first confirms this conclusion using data from the United Kingdom. Then, we suggest a simple way to integrate both existing approaches into a more general measure of bridging and bonding. Applying this more general index to UK and Flemish data, a) provides stronger empirical support for the idea that memberships in bridging groups are more strongly linked to positive civic values than those in bonding ones, and b) shows that the extended index behaves more consistently across institutional settings (i.e. Flanders and the UK) than both underlying measures independently

Geys, Benny & Murdoch, Zuzana (2008)

How to make head or tail of ‘bridging’ and ‘bonding’?: addressing the methodological ambiguity

British Journal of Sociology, 59(3), s. 435- 454.

Geys, Benny & Leiren, Merethe Dotterud (1)

How can the stigma of public transport as the 'poor man's vehicle' be overcome to enhance sustainability and climate change mitigation

Natural resources forum (Print) [Kronikk]

Murdoch, Zuzana; Geys, Benny & Sørensen, Rune Jørgen (2023)

Political Representation of Public Sector Employees

[Popular scientific article]. DemoTrans Policy Brief

Bogen, Øivind Johnsen; Murdoch, Zuzana & Geys, Benny (2023)

The Bigger, the Better? Population Size and Satisfaction with Municipal Services

[Popular scientific article]. DemoTrans Policy Brief Doi: https://feb.kuleuven.be/drc/LEER/demotrans/policy_brief/policy_brief_population-size-and-satisfaction.pdf

Academic Degrees
Year Academic Department Degree
2004 Vrije Universiteit Brussel Ph.D Dr. Oecon.
2000 Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL) Master of Science
Work Experience
Year Employer Job Title
2019 - Present BI Norwegian Business School Professor in Economics
2010 - 2020 Vrije Universiteit Brussels Research Professor
2015 - 2019 BI Norwegian Business School Professor in Economics
2010 - 2015 BI Norwegian Business School Associate Professor
2005 - 2010 WZB Berlin Senior research fellow