Welcome! I’m a political scientist primarily interested in conflictual politics and its democratic and policy implications


I received my PhD from the University of Bern, Switzerland in 2018. I‘m currently a PostDoc at LMU Munich’s Geschwister Scholl Institute of Political Science.

On this site you’ll find information about my past and present research, publications, and career.




My research focuses on the politics of public policy in conflictual times. I’m particularly interested in how the rise of conflictual politics in advanced democracies – from polarization to populism, blame generation and norm erosion – reconfigures the political playing field and challenges our conceptions of democratic policy-making. I have worked on a number of related projects within this broader framework.



My Work on Blame Avoidance and Political Blame Games

This line of work investigates how politicians act ‘under pressure’, i.e. when blame from citizens, the opposition, or the media threatens their re-election prospects and the policies they support.
Blame games are political events that develop on the occasion of controversial or problematic issues when politicians begin to blame each other. I have conceptualized blame games as microcosms of conflictual politics, the study of which tells us a great deal of how political systems change if they switch into conflict mode. Political systems are in conflict mode when they have to solve problems and find answers to their citizens’ demands under more conflictual conditions. One of the central insights of my research on blame games is that countries have their own very peculiar – and more or less successful – ways of managing their political and policy problems during blame games.


My Work on the Erosion of Democratic Norms

Existing research on norm erosion and democratic backsliding primarily focuses on why many politicians nowadays are eager to violate democratic norms. What existing research usually neglects is how politicians do so without being ostracized. After all, it’s very puzzling that established politicians and parties seem unable to stop norm violators. My research tackles this peculiarity by zooming in on the conflicts between norm violators and established politicians who want to preserve the democratic rules of the game. This project, on which I collaborate with Fritz Sager, contributes to the study of democratic backsliding and shows ways of stopping the erosion of democratic norms.


My Work on Policy Implementation Under Pressure

Although long ago Pressman and Wildavsky, two pioneering implementation scholars, informed political scientists that ‘High hopes in Washington are often dashed in Oakland’, political scientists still seldom look beyond Washington when examining the implications of conflictual politics. My work on policy implementation under pressure seeks to change that. This project, on which I collaborate with Stefan Wittwer, examines the implications of intensified political conflict on the implementation of public policies. Our research suggests that front-line workers, such as youth advocates, often implement policies in ways that run contrary to the ideas embodied in these policies in order to shield themselves from the conflict that rages at the political level.


My Work on Policy-Centered Conflict Management

My next big project wants to develop a new, policy-centered approach for studying the evolution of democratic market societies. In rapidly modernizing and innovating societies, democratic stability increasingly depends on how the state manages political conflicts through policy interventions. Policies that emerge and are designed and implemented in a conflict-mediating way keep political conflicts within ‘cultivated’ bounds, instead of suppressing them or letting them spiral out of control. By mediating political conflicts, public policies play a crucial role in making democracy work. 


My approach is primarily comparative-qualitative; however, it is also very pluralistic in nature. Interesting and relevant research questions come first and inform the methods I use. This is why I often combine qualitative, quantitative, and set-theoretic approaches in order to answer the pressing political questions of our time.

Bio & CV

I’m currently a PostDoc at LMU Munich’s Geschwister Scholl Institute of Political Science.


Previous Experience


  • January 2020 – December 2020: Visiting PostDoc at Brown University’s Watson Institute
  • January 2019 – December 2019: Visiting PostDoc at UC Berkeley’s Institute of European Studies
  • March 2018 – December 2018: PostDoc at the KPM Center for Public Management, University of Bern
  • April 2014 – February 2018: PhD Student and Teaching Assistant at the KPM Center for Public Management, University of Bern (Advisor: Prof. Fritz Sager)
  • September 2011 – July 2013: Master of Arts (M.A.) in Public Management and Policy, University of Bern
  • October 2008 – July 2011: Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Business Administration, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Find a detailed [CV]





  1. Hinterleitner, Markus (2020). Policy Controversies and Political Blame Games. New York: Cambridge University Press. [available as Open Access] [blog post]

    Reviewed in the Journal of Comparative Policy AnalysisPolitical Studies Review, and the Swiss Political Science Review
Edited book


  1. Flinders, Matthew, Gergana Dimova, Markus Hinterleitner, R. A. W. Rhodes, and Kent Weaver (forthcoming). The Politics and Governance of Blame. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Articles (10)


  1. Hinterleitner, Markus, David Kaufmann, and Eva Thomann (2020). “The fit between regulatory instruments and targets: Regulating the economic integration of migrants”, Regulation & Governance, early view. [PDF] [link to publisher]
  2. Sager, Fritz, Céline Mavrot, Markus Hinterleitner, David Kaufmann, Martin Grosjean, and Thomas F. Stocker (2020). “Utilization-focused Scientific Policy Advice: A Six-Point Checklist”, Climate Policy, 20 (10), 1336-1343. [PDF] [link to publisher] [blog post]
  3. Hinterleitner, Markus (2019). “Salami tactics and the implementation of large-scale public projects”, Journal of European Public Policy, 26(11), 1696-1714. [PDF] [link to publisher] Featured on the JEPP Online Blog
  4. Hinterleitner, Markus (2018). “Policy Failures, Blame Games, and Changes to Policy Practice”, Journal of Public Policy, 38(2), 221-242. [PDF] [link to publisher]  Featured on DeFacto and on Higgs
  5. Hinterleitner, Markus (2017). “Reconciling Perspectives on Blame Avoidance Behavior”, Political Studies Review, 15(2), 243-254. [PDF] [link to publisher]
  6. Hinterleitner, Markus, and Fritz Sager (2017). “Anticipatory and Reactive Forms of Blame Avoidance: Of Foxes and Lions”, European Political Science Review, 9(4), 587-606. [PDF] [link to publisher] Featured on the LSE British Politics and Policy Blog
  7. Hinterleitner, Markus, Fritz Sager, and Eva Thomann (2016). “The Politics of External Approval: Explaining the IMF’s Evaluation of Austerity Programmes”, European Journal of Political Research, 55(3), 549-567. [PDF] [link to publisher] Featured on the LSE EUROPP Blog and on the Democratic Audit Blog
  8. Sager, Fritz, and Markus Hinterleitner (2016). “How Do Credit Rating Agencies Rate? An Implementation Perspective on the Assessment of Austerity Programs during the European Debt Crisis”, Politics & Policy, 44(4), 783-815. [PDF] [link to publisher]
  9. Hinterleitner, Markus, and Fritz Sager (2015). “Avoiding Blame—a Comprehensive Framework and the Australian Home Insulation Program Fiasco”, Policy Studies Journal, 43(1), 139-161. [PDF] [link to publisher]
  10. Hinterleitner, Markus, and Christian Rosser (2015). “Regulation and the Management of Expectations—Rating Agencies Revisited”, European Policy Analysis, 1(2), 71-89. [PDF] [link to publisher]
Contributions to books (5)


  1. Fritz Sager, and Markus Hinterleitner (forthcoming). “The Politics of Policy Implementation – A Reassessment in More Conflictual Times”, in Andreas Balthasar and Fritz Sager (eds.). Edward Elgar Handbook on the Politics of Public Administration. London: Edward Elgar.

  2. Hinterleitner, Markus, and Fritz Sager (2019). “Governing Elites under Pressure: Blame Avoidance Strategies and Welfare State Retrenchment”, in Careja, Romana, Patrick Emmenegger, and Nathalie Giger (eds.). Work and Welfare in a Changing World. New York: Springer. [PDF] [link to publisher]
  3. Hinterleitner, Markus, and Fritz Sager (2019). “Krisenmanagement und Risikovermeidung”, in Ritz, Adrian, Theo Haldemann, and Fritz Sager (eds.). Blackbox Exekutive – Regierungslehre in der Schweiz. Zürich: NZZlibro. [PDF] [link to publisher] Featured on DeFacto
  4. Hinterleitner, Markus, and Fritz Sager (2018). “Blame, reputation and organizational responses to a politicized climate”, in Bach, Tobias, and Kai Wegrich (eds.). The blind spots of public bureaucracy and the politics of non‐coordination. London: Palgrave Macmillan. [PDF] [link to publisher]
  5. Sager, Fritz, and Markus Hinterleitner (2014). “Evaluation”, in Schubert, Klaus, and Nils Bandelow (eds.). Lehrbuch der Politikfeldanalyse. München: Oldenbourg, pp. 437-462. [PDF] [link to publisher]


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[ResearchGate Profile]