Prof. Marco Verweij

Complex Problems, Plural Rationality, and Public Policy
School of Business, Social & Decision Sciences
Constructor University Bremen gGmbH
Res. IV | Campus Ring 1 | 28759 Bremen
Phone number
+49 421 200-3451
Fax number
+49 421 200-3303
Email Address
Research IV, Room 113
Research Interests
  • Global Governance
  • Cultural Theory
  • Social Neuroscience
University Education
Doctorate in Social and Political Sciences, European University Institute, San Domenico di Fiesole, Italy. Degree awarded with distinction.
Master of Science degree in Politics of the World Economy, London School of Economics and Political Science.
Doctorandus degree (Dutch Masters degree) in Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Fellowships and Awards


NWO-von Humboldt Research Award
awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

June – July 2016 & July – Aug. 2017

Brain and Creativity Institute
University of Southern California
Professor of the Year-Award
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jacobs University
2004 (July)
Visiting Fellow at the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.
2003 (Oct.-Dec.)
Fellow at the Hanse Institute for Advanced Study, Delmenhorst, Germany.
2003 (Feb.)
Visiting Professor, Department of Political and Social Science, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.
2002 (March-June)
Visiting Fellow, Center for Governance, UCLA.
2000 (Feb.-Oct.)
Visiting Scholar, Institute for International Studies, Stanford University.
1997 (May-Aug.)
Visiting Fellow at the International Institute, University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Research and Teaching Positions
Professor of Political Science, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jacobs University Bremen.
Associate Professor of Political Science, Department of Economics and Social Sciences, Singapore Management University.
Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn, Germany.
Co-Editor, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science.


Current Research Projects

Lohmann, S. (UCLA), Stojanovska, K. (TUM School of Management) & Verweij, M. Testing 1, 2…5: Moral behaviors in the revelation game. A central finding of experimental economics is that participants in its games typically engage in a limited set of different strategies rather than all interact selfishly or proceed in a myriad of individual ways. What can still be clarified further is how best to characterize this set of alternative preferences and behaviors. The projects sheds light on this question with the help of a novel game, a combination of unsupervised cluster and thematic methods, and the theory of sociocultural viability. 

Verweij, M. & Wehmann, E. (University Hospital Zürich). Are there elementary forms of organising and perceiving social relations? The view from neuroscience. A long-standing and central issue in the social sciences is whether a limited set of elementary (or fundamental) ways of organising and perceiving social relations underlies the vast social and cultural diversity that characterises human life across time and space. This project aims to identify the contributions that neuroscience can make to answering this fundamental question. Its first phase consists of interviews with around 20 leading neuroscientists. 

Băbeanu, A. (Delft University of Technology), Garlaschelli, D. (Leiden University & IMT School of Advanced Studies) & Verweij, M. A spectral similarity approach to exploring latent ideologies. This research illustrates that a statistical tool developed in physics can be successfully applied in the analysis of political preference formation. Moreover, it argues that this application does not suffer from several theoretical problems besetting the methods that have thus far been used for studying the formation of political preferences. 

Klebe, F. (University College London), Maesschalk, J. (Leuven University), Senior, T. (Bristol University) & Verweij, M. A corona test of the clumsy solutions hypothesis. This research tests whether the ‘clumsy solutions’ hypothesis can help explain why the corona-pandemic has caused a lower number of excess deaths and less economic decline in some countries than in others. 

Verweij, M. The rise of authoritarian populism and the fall of political theory: The case for clumsy solutions. This project emanates from three observations. First, a number social and political theories appear to have been empirically contradicted by the resurgence of authoritarian populism around the world. In addition, various explanations for this resurgence proposed in political science are at odds with data showing that populist voters tend to be more affluent than other voters. Finally, no general explanations have thus far emerged for the various governance failures that appear to have boosted populism. This project therefore examines the extent to which the theory of sociocultural viability, and its concept of ‘clumsy’ or ‘polyrational’ governance solutions, can offer a more convincing explanation of the return of authoritarian populism. It combines statistical analysis of voter preferences with case studies of the 2008 global financial crisis, the spread of ‘fake news’ online, and recent immigration and integration policies in several countries. 

Verweij, M., Thompson, M. (IIASA) and Tayler, P. (UK National Health Service), Populism: Here we go again. With the help of agent-based modelling and empirical analysis, this project investigates whether a cyclical theory of politics can help explain the current resurgence of populism. 

Selected Publications


Marco Verweij, Clumsy Solutions for a Wicked World: How to Improve Global Governance (Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

Marco Verweij, Transboundary Environmental Problems and Cultural Theory: The Protection of the Rhine and Great Lakes (Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000).


Gyawali, D., Thompson, M. & Verweij, M. (eds.) (2016). Aid, technology and development: The lessons from Nepal. The Earthscan Science in Society Series. London: Routledge.

Marco Verweij and Michael Thompson (eds), Clumsy Solutions for a Complex World: Governance, Politics and Plural Perceptions (Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

Marco Verweij and Steven Ney (eds), No Great Breakthroughs Have Ever Been Achieved by Taking Things Seriously: A Festschrift for Michael Thompson, special issue of Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research (Vol. 17, No. 4, 2004).

Marco Verweij and Tim Josling (eds), Deliberately Democratizing Multilateral Organization, special issue of Governance (Vol. 16, No. 1, 2003).

Dominique Jacquin-Berdal, Andrew Oros and Marco Verweij (eds.), Culture in World Politics (Basingstoke/New York: Macmillan/St. Martin's Press, 1998).

Dominique Jacquin, Andrew Oros and Marco Verweij (eds.), Culture in International Relations, special issue of Millennium: Journal of International Studies (Vol. 22, No. 3, 1993).


Articles & Chapters

Verweij, M., & Damasio, A. (2024). Economics from a biological perspective: the role of sociocultural homeostasis. Journal of Economic Methodology, 1–18. (LINK) 

Gerlach, L. Bocklisch, T. & Verweij, M. (2023). Greedy batteries versus benevolent optimizers: An exploratory review of agent-based energy management with distributed storage in microgrids. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews,177. doi: 10.1016/j.rser.2023.113211 (LINK)

Verweij, M. (2022). The five ways of life (and how to incorporate these in education). In R. Ruffino (Ed.), Convivenze ambigue: Culture differenti e valori comuni? (pp. 259-79). Colle Val d’Elsa: Fondazione Intercultura Onlus. (LINK)  

Verweij, M. (2022). Clumsy solutions and climate change: A retrospective. WIREs Climate Change, 13, e804. doi: 10.1002/wcc.804 (LINK)

Verweij, M., Ney, S., & Thompson, M. (2022). Cultural theory’s contributions to climate science: Reply to Hansson. European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 12: 34. (LINK)

Halik, A., Verweij, M. & Schlueter, A. (2022). Deliberating coral reef protection: Cultural theory tested. Marine Policy, 139. (LINK)

Verweij, M., Alexandrova, P., Jacobsen, H., Beziat, P., Branduse, D., Dege, Y., Hensing, J., Hollway, J., Kliem, L., Ponce, G., Reichelt, I. J., & Wiegmann, M. (2020). Four Galore? The Overlap between Mary Douglas's Grid-Group Typology and Other Highly Cited Social Science Classifications. Sociological Theory. (LINK)

Verweij, M., & Damasio, A. (2019). The somatic marker hypothesis and political life. In W. R. Thompson (Ed.), The Oxford research encyclopedia of politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (LINK)

Schoop, M. A., Verweij, M., Kuehnen, U. & Luan, S. (2019). Political disagreement in the classroom: Testing cultural theory through structured observation. Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, 53(6). (LINK)


Favre, M., Swedlow, B., & Verweij, M. (2019).A cultural theory and model of power relations. Journal of Political Power, 12. (LINK)


Halik, A., Verweij, M. & Schlüter, A. (2018). How Marine Protected Areas are governed: A cultural theory perspective. Sustainability, 10(1), 252. (LINK)

Halik, A., & Verweij, M. (2017). Socio-cultural diversity and public preferences for coral reef management options in Indonesia. Ocean and Coastal management, 147. (LINK)

Verweij, M. (2017). The remarkable restoration of the Rhine: Plural rationalities in regional water politics. Water International, 42(2), 207-221.

Thompson, M., Gyawali, D. & Verweij, M. (2016). The dharma of development. In D. Gyawali, M. Thompson & M. Verweij (Eds), Aid, technology and development: The lessons from Nepal (pp. 3-12). London: Routledge/Earthscan.

Gyawali, D., Thompson, M. & Verweij, M. (2016). The lessons from Nepal. In D. Gyawali, M. Thompson & M. Verweij (Eds), Aid, technology and development: The lessons from Nepal (pp. 218-221). London: Routledge/Earthscan.

Verweij, M. (2016). A cultural theory of how to aid development. In D. Gyawali, M. Thompson & M. Verweij (Eds), Aid, technology and development: The lessons from Nepal (pp. 13-25). London: Routledge/Earthscan.

Steven Ney and Marco Verweij, "Messy Institutions for Wicked Problems: How to Generate Clumsy Solutions", Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy (Vol. 33, No. 6, 2015), pp. 1679-96.

Marco Verweij, Timothy J. Senior, Juan F. Dominguez D. and Robert Turner, 'Emotion, Rationality and Decision-Making: How to Link Affective and Social Neuroscience with Social Theory', Frontiers in Neuroscience (Vol. 9, 2015). (LINK)

Marco Verweij and Timothy J. Senior, 'Social Theory and the Cognitive-Emotional Brain', Behavioral and Brain Sciences (Vol. 38, No. 1, 2015), pp. 42-43.

Gabriela Weber de Morais, Achim Schlüter and Marco Verweij, "Can Institutional Change Theories Contribute to the Understanding of Marine Protected Areas?", Global Environmental Change (Vol. 31, 2015), pp. 154-162.

Steven Ney and Marco Verweij, "The Upside of Messiness: Clumsy Solutions for Wicked Problems", Rotman Management: The Magazine of the Rotman School of Management, (Winter 2015).

Steven Ney and Marco Verweij (2014), "Exploring the Contributions of Cultural Theory for Improving Public Deliberation about Complex Policy Problems", Policy Studies Journal, 42(4), 620-643.

Marco Verweij, Marieke van Egmond, Ulrich Kuehnen, Shenghua Luan, Steven Ney, and M. Aenne Schoop, "I Disagree, Therefore I Am: How to Test and Strengthen Cultural Versatility", Innovation (Vol. 27, 2014). (LINK)

Marco Verweij, "Wicked Problems, Clumsy Solutions and Messy Institutions in Transnational Governance", in Martin Lodge and Kai Wegrich (eds), The Problem-Solving Capacity of the Modern State: Government Challenges and Administrative Capacities (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the Hertie School of Governance, 2014).

Christoph Engel, Michael Thompson and Marco Verweij, "Postscript: The Future of Clumsiness", in Mary Douglas, Cultures and Crises: Understanding Risk and Resolution (London: Sage, 2013).

Marco Verweij, Shenghua Luan and Mark Nowacki, 'How to Test Cultural Theory: Suggestions for Future Research', PS: Political Science & Politics, Vol. 44, No. 4 (2011): 745-48.

Marco Verweij, ‘How to Curb Global Warming after "Hopenhagen" and "Climate-Gate"’, Amsterdam Law Forum, Vol. 2, No. 2 (2010), pp. 99-118.

Marco Verweij, “Is International Customary Law Coordinated, Constructed or Contested? Comment”, Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (Vol. 165, No. 1, 2009), pp. 95-98.

Marco Verweij and Riccardo Pelizzo, “Singapore: Does Authoritarianism Pay?”, Journal of Democracy (Vol. 20, No. 2, 2009), pp. 18-32.

Marco Verweij, “Towards a Theory of Constrained Relativism: Comparing and Combining the Work of Pierre Bourdieu, Mary Douglas and Michael Thompson, and Alan Fiske”, Sociological Research Online (Vol. 12, No. 4, 2007). (LINK)

Marco Verweij, “Four Wrongs Can Make a Right: From Stocks of Social Capital to Competing Ways of Life”, Politics & Policy (Vol. 35, No. 3, 2007), pp. 464-95.

Marco Verweij, Michael Thompson and Christoph Engel, “Clumsy Conclusions: How to Do Research and Policy in a Complex World”, in Clumsy Solutions for a Complex World.

Marco Verweij, “Is the Kyoto Protocol Merely Irrelevant, or Positively Harmful, to the Efforts to Curb Climate Change?”, in Clumsy Solutions for a Complex World.

Marco Verweij, Mary Douglas, Richard Ellis, Christoph Engel, Frank Hendriks, Susanne Lohmann, Steven Ney, Steve Rayner and Michael Thompson, “The Case for Clumsiness”, in Clumsy Solutions for a Complex World.

Marco Verweij, Mary Douglas, Richard Ellis, Christoph Engel, Frank Hendriks, Susanne Lohmann, Steven Ney, Steve Rayner and Michael Thompson, “Clumsy Solutions for a Complex World: The Case of Climate Change”, Public Administration (Vol. 84, No. 4, 2006), pp. 817-43.

Marco Verweij and Dipak Gyawali, “Against More Aid: Why Development Assistance Should Not Be Tripled”, Harvard International Review (Vol. 27, No. 4, 2006), pp. 26-30.

Michael Thompson, Marco Verweij and Richard J. Ellis, “Why and How Culture Matters”, in Robert Goodin and Charles Tilly (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).

Marco Verweij, “Michael Thompson’s Contributions to Making Social Science More Social and Scientific”, Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research (Vol. 17, No. 4, 2004), pp. 271-87.

Marco Verweij, “Appendix to Douglas: Cultural Theory and Development Studies”, Culture and Public Action: How Cultural Factors Affect an Unequal World, edited by Vijayendra Rao and Michael Walton (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press for the World Bank, 2004).

Marco Verweij, “International Regulation as Creative Destruction”, in Adrienne Héritier, Michael Stolleis and Fritz W. Scharpf (eds), European and International Regulation after the Nation State: Different Scopes and Multiple Levels (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2004).

Mary Douglas, Michael Thompson and Marco Verweij, “Is Time Running out? The Case of Global Warming”, Dædelus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Vol. 132, No. 1, 2003), pp. 98-107.

Marco Verweij, "The Competitiveness of Renewable Energy", Science Online (dEbates Section), (LINK) (24 April 2003).

Marco Verweij, "Curbing Global Warming the Easy Way: An Alternative to the Kyoto Protocol", Government & Opposition (Vol. 38, No. 2, 2003), pp. 139-61.

Marco Verweij, "Deliberately Democratizing Multilateral Organization", Governance (Vol. 16, No. 1, 2003), pp. 1-21.

Marco Verweij, "Rejoinder: Eight Misrepresentations and a Confession", Law & Society Review (Vol. 36, No. 1, 2002), pp. 199-202.

Marco Verweij, "Why Is the River Rhine Cleaner than the Great Lakes (Despite Looser Regulation)?", Law & Society Review (Vol. 34, No. 4, 2000), pp. 1007-54.

Marco Verweij, "A Watershed on the Rhine: Changing Approaches to International Environmental Cooperation", GeoJournal: An International Journal on Human Geography and Environmental Sciences (Vol. 47, No. 3, 1999), pp. 453-61.

Marco Verweij, "Whose Behavior Is Affected by International Anarchy?", in Michael Thompson, Gunnar Grendstad and Per Selle (eds.), Cultural Theory as Political Science (London: Routledge, 1999), chapter 2.

Marco Verweij, Andrew Oros, Dominique Jacquin-Berdal, "Culture in World Politics: An Introduction". Chapter 1 from Jacquin-Berdal et. al. (1998).

Marco Verweij, "Developing the Cultural Analysis of Mary Douglas", Government & Opposition (Vol. 32, No. 3, 1997), pp. 421-30.

Marco Verweij, "Cultural Theory and the Study of International Relations", Millennium: Journal of International Studies (Vol. 24, No. 1, 1995), pp. 87-111.

Dominique Jacquin, Andrew Oros and Marco Verweij, "Culture in International Relations: An Introduction to the Special Issue", Millennium: Journal of International Studies (Vol. 22, No. 3, 1993), pp. 375-77.