The State Secretariat for Integration. Evaluating Policy Change in Immigrant Integration (GOVERNING INTEGRATION)

Funding institution: OeNB Austrian Central Bank (Jubiläumsfonds)

Duration: January 2014 - July 2015

About the project:

In April 2011, after decades of fragmented and inadequated government responsibility, the Austrian government introduced a State Secretariat for Integration (SSI) as a new governmental actor in the policy field of immigrant integration. This relocation of competences prompted the question, whether the institutional reform has led to a policy change in immigration integration. And also, which dimensions of government policy have been most affected by the institutional change?
The project examines the fundamental assumption of policy change in three dimensions:
(a) Policy narrative. To what extent has the narrative that was used to frame the governmental approach to immigrant integration changed as a result of to institutional reform?
(b) Policy measures. Has the reform led to new policy measures being suggested in the field of immigrant integration? Which of these policy measures have already been implemented?
(c) Instruments. Which instruments are being applied as part of the government’s new policy approach on immigrant integration? Do they differ from instruments used in previous periods?

These research questions and dimensions will be examined in a comparative design. Narrative, policy measures and instruments will be compared as applied by the government during two phases: the initial period prior to the establishment of the SSI (2008-2011) and the period following the introduction of the SSI (2011-2013). Using document and claims analysis, the project examines government declarations, policy reports, government bills as well as press releases and media coverage. Interviews with politicians and experts will provide insights into the institutionalisation process.