Current Research Projects

Current Research Projects




Current Research Projects

Professor Conteh’s current research activities are in the areas of Canadian and Comparative Public Policy, Comparative Public Administration, Politics in Developing Regions and Economic Development Policy. His research focuses on strategic management in complex policy systems, integrating the literature on policy implementation, organizational theory, and governance theory. Strategic management in this context is about setting up governance structures that facilitate the integration of strategic (or proactive) planning and implementation across a network of agencies in an ongoing way to enhance the fulfillment of missions, meeting of mandates, and sustained creation of public value. In short, strategic management integrates the competing logics of substantive (policy) rationality, procedural (administrative) rationality, and political rationality.

Prof. Conteh uses the strategic management framework in multi-level governance systems to investigate how local and regional economies are reinventing themselves in the face of seismic global economic changes. The framework enables him to explain the differences between regional systems in terms of how they are designed to organize effective participation and in how they create innovative ideas for missions, goals, strategies and actions. Regions also differ in how they build effective coalitions needed to adopt, guide, and protect strategies and actions during implementation as well as build competence and knowledge to sustain implementation.  

A critical element of Prof. Conteh’s research, therefore, is to advance the understanding of the basic strategic foundations for economic diversification, growth and development in knowledge-based and knowledge-driven systems in both developed and developing regions. These foundations include the political and policy requisites for economic reinvention, and the institutional interfaces between the public, private and community sectors in creating support systems for initiatives like innovation clusters and economic diversification.  These strategic foundations provide the bedrock for facilitating collaborative policy decision making and enhancing organizational effectiveness, responsiveness and resilience in complex network (and multi-level governance) systems. They also strengthen an organization’s legitimacy with respect to its relationships with key stakeholders. 

B. Timothy Heinmiller, Defining Limits: Politics, Vested Interests and ‘Cap and Trade’ Resource Management Programs.  Research project funded by SSHRC, 2008-2012.

Around the world, there is increasing recognition that states, communities and industries are unsustainably exploiting a wide range of renewable resources, such as fisheries, water basins, wild animal stocks, old growth forests, and even the global atmosphere.  Recognizing these sustainability problems has been important, but solving them represents one of the most pressing social challenges of our time.  One potential solution that has become increasingly common is the adoption of ‘cap and trade’ resource management programs.  These programs have considerable appeal because they offer an opportunity to define the limits of resource exploitation, while offering the potential for economic prosperity within these limits.

Although much is known about cap and trade programs, most of this knowledge is derived from economic theory and could be described as politically naïve.  It is widely assumed that cap and trade programs are most effective when their design closely matches the ideal typical design of economic theory.  Any deviations from the ideal typical design are thus regarded as negative, leading some analysts to suggest that cap and trade programs be insulated, as much as possible, from the political conflicts that produce these program deviations (Hannesson 2006).  However, such a prescription is unrealistic and impractical because, as explored in some of my earlier work in this area, cap and trade programs are inherently political.  They are inherently political because they involve a redistribution of resource entitlements, creating some ‘winners’ and some ‘losers,’ and the vested interests expecting to lose from cap and trade programs can be expected to resist their implementation (Heinmiller 2007).

This research project explores cap and trade programs as a political phenomenon, examining how political resistance from vested interests shapes program design, and how program design ultimately affects program effectiveness.  In this way, the political conflicts inherent in cap and trade programs are not ignored or willed away, but directly incorporated as a variable of analysis.  Considering that most of the instances where cap and trade programs are adopted involve resources that are heavily exploited, with many vested interests, the analytical approach adopted here offers much potential for understanding how cap and trade programs operate in real-world circumstances.  The lessons learned from this study can improve both the theory and practice of cap and trade programs in many different situations, including efforts to address climate change.

Vicki Esses (University of Western Ontario) and Livianna Tossutti (Brock University), “The Welcoming Communities: Promoting Inclusive Ontario Cities” project. Research funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (Ontario), 2010-2011. $146,793.36

Confidential interviews will be conducted with opinion leaders in the 14 Census Metropolitan Areas in Ontario outside of Toronto about immigration and cultural diversity in their communities. Through these interviews, the project will be able to assess the “warmth of the welcome” that currently exists in communities, and potential targets and strategies for change, with a view to assessing policy directions and helping to shape anti-racism and welcoming community program interventions. The project will also develop an antiracism and antidiscrimination observatory that will be a repository for (a) tools to assess racism and discrimination, with a focus on smaller communities, (b) research on antiracism and antidiscrimination, particularly as it pertains to smaller communities, and (c) tools for combating racism and discrimination in the workplace, in organizations, in schools, and in communities. The overall goal will be to equip policymakers and local organizations with a set of diagnostics for assessing levels of racism and discrimination, and practical tools that can be used to promote harmony and inclusion.
 

Livianna Tossutti, “Welcoming Communities: working to improve the inclusion of visible minorities and immigrants in second and third tier cities”. Research project funded by a SSHRC Community University Research Alliance Grant, 2009-2014. $999,000.00. Role: Co-leader of the Social, Cultural and Political Integration Research Domain of the Welcoming Communities Initiative at welcomingcommunities.org

The Welcoming Communities Initiative (WCI) is a multidisciplinary alliance of university and community partners designed to develop, test, and implement strategies to attract and include immigrants and minorities in small- and medium-sized cities across Ontario. WCI researchers are examining the challenges faced by small and medium-sized Ontario cities in the attraction and inclusion of immigrants and minorities, working to strengthen municipal capacity to respond to and overcome these challenges, working to strengthen the capacity of the voluntary sector that plays such a crucial role in service delivery and social inclusion, and testing and implementing strategies for creating and sustaining communities in which all members feel comfortable and valued.  The Initiative is also helping federal and provincial ministries to develop and improve their policy and program interventions.

 

Livianna Tossutti:
2012: Citizenship and Immigration Canada ($15,000). Review of literature on impact of country of origin and immigration class on the economic and social integration outcomes of newcomers. Role: Lead Researcher.


2010: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (Ontario) ($146,793.36), "The Welcoming Communities: Promoting Inclusive Ontario Cities" project.  
Role: Co-investigator.

 

Juris Dreifelds:
Researched and wrote a 40 page study of the history of media in Latvia from 1822 to the present. This study will be a chapter in a forthcoming book to be published in Riga:”The Latvians”.