Staff Research Projects

The core and associated staff of the Hellenic Observatory engage in a number of in-house, collaborative and commissioned projects along the thematic lines and geographic focus defined by our strategic aims and mission. At the same time, it has also engaged in a number of projects conducted by external researchers to promote public policy research and to foster academic collaboration and networks.

List of Current Research Projects

The Political Imaginary of Happiness in Greece

Dr Dimitris Soudias (Visiting Fellow, February 2022 - February 2023) will focus on the political imaginary of hapiness in Greece. In recent decades, post-industrial economies have engaged in place-branding strategies to generate growth. These strategies go beyond the short-termism of tourism and have focused on attracting human capital vis-à-vis ‘creative talent’, ‘lifestyle migrants’, ‘digital nomads’, as well as ‘brain-gainers’. This project investigates the case of Greece, claiming that the current government mobilizes happiness as a political imaginary to brand Greece that embodies happiness. The analytical task of this project is threefold. Firstly, it scrutinizes the constitutive discursive elements and (governmental, scholarly) agents of the happiness imaginary in Greece. Secondly, this project investigates the role of the happiness imaginary for Greece’s place-branding strategies. Thirdly, the project elaborates the claim that the political imaginary of happiness serves the purpose of not only attracting desirable migrants, but also of disciplining the Greek population.

Frozen Conflicts: understanding their characteristics and impact

Dr Nasia Hadjigeorgiou (Visiting Senior Fellow, September 2021 – September 2022) seeks to understand the societal dynamics at play, and the effect of these dynamics, in places that are experiencing a frozen conflict. She does this by first answering the question ‘what are the most prevalent features that frozen conflict societies have in common?’ Examples of such features include the idea that many governmental decisions in frozen conflict societies are, formally at least, temporary; the fact that key decisions in these societies are often characterised by a lack of transparency; these societies’ intense focus on the protection of national identity; and the fact that the very existence of the frozen conflict overshadows other (foreign) policy considerations. 
The first part of the project will develop the theoretical argument that these features have an impact on frozen conflict societies, often in invisible ways. Papers dealing with the impact of frozen conflicts on migration policy, education or LGBTQI+ rights have alluded to this argument, but the distinct focus of, and different disciplines that each paper comes from, have prevented them from reaching generalisable conclusions. Thus, the common features of frozen conflicts and their effects will be identified through an interdisciplinary approach that brings together insights from different parts of the literature. The second part of the project will apply the theoretical findings to three case studies within the Council of Europe, namely Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia/South Ossetia.


The Political Economy of Sudden Stops and Macroeconomic Adjustment: the case of Greece

Professor Anthony Bartzokas (Visiting Professor in Practice, March 2021 - February 2022) will focus on the political economy of sudden stops and macroeconomic adjustment: the case of Greece. The Greek economy went through a steep recession for ten years at the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007-2007. It started as a unique episode of a sovereign debt crisis in a monetary union that triggered a banking sector crisis and a sequence of adjustment programmes aiming at macroeconomic stabilization and economic recovery. A proliferation of articles, books and official publications is already available addressing two aspects of the Greek predicament in the last ten years. The emphasis has been either on what caused the crisis or on the modalities of crisis management and guiding principles for adjustment. This project takes a different perspective. We start with an evidence-based assessment on what happened during the trajectory from crisis to recovery with an emphasis on corporate sector adjustment. Next, we incorporate our empirical insights to an explanatory framework of what drives the adjustment process during a special case of deep recessions under constrained policy options. We draw on the international experience of recessions and recovery trajectories, including the specific case of internal devaluation in monetary unions. The consideration of a case of prolonged recession points to two factors for deeper consideration, i.e. investment capacity and firm level response to reforms. There is extensive literature on reforms sequencing and relevant growth and welfare implications during economic transition. We enrich this debate in two directions. First, we apply the concept of binding constraints as the guiding principle for the design of the direction of reforms. Second, we introduce six qualities of market conditions for the calibration of the proposed reforms agenda. Finally, we propose an empirical approach on recovery growth drivers that builds on modern growth theory. In our view, structural adjustment in Greece so far has addressed the problem of unsustainable flows and going forward is supposed to address persistent issues of stocks in the economy. Thus, we argue that a comprehensive analysis of recovery drivers is needed addressing coordination failures and middle-income traps.

Greek Industry: post Covid-19 challenges, presentation at a Workshop organised by the Region of Western Greece on 'Entrepreneurship Towards the 4th Industrial Revolution', 31/3/2021


Exploring the Concepts of Crisis and Social Change through Greek Lived Experiences of COVID-19 Pandemic


Dr Athanasia Chalari (Visiting Senior Fellow, October 2020 - September 2022) and her collaborator (Ms Koutantou, University of Essex) focus on the exploration of the concepts of Crisis and Social Change through Greek Lived Experiences of COVID-19 Pandemic. Their present study explores the ways Greek individuals have experienced the state of crisis while coping with the pandemic of COVID-19. The purpose is to re-examine the ideas of crisis and social change through the lived experiences of this unprecedent pandemic. The study started as an exploration of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Greeks while experiencing some of the strictest pandemic measures in Europe, however, it expanded in a wider study including and comparing narratives of Greek participants residing in 13 countries around the globe, and therefore experiencing social distancing measures in different levels of intensity. The empirical collection of 46 interviews has been conducted during the critical time of April 2020. The underlying purpose would be to reveal lived experiences of COVID-19, as a significant component which should be added in our wider understanding of this pandemic as a crisis.  This study aims in incorporating diverse subjective experiences deriving from different participants who, at the same time, share common grounds in terms of cultural backgrounds. The distinctive response Greece has followed towards COVID-19 formed a preliminary platform of common ground that participants could be sharing. Furthermore, Greece has recently started overcoming a prolonged socio-economic crisis lasting over a decade, resulting in severe social transformations affecting, inter alia Greek people’s ways of living, well-being and crisis coping strategies (Chalari & Sealey, 2016; Chalari & Serifi, 2018; Chalari & Koutantou, 2020). One of the main consequences of the Greek crisis involves a large migration wave of brain drainers residing abroad who maintain connections with homeland and share common cultural background (Chalari & Koutantou, 2020). Although Greek economy remains fragile and rather weak, the Greek government was one the few to impose extreme lockdown measures as a respond to COVID-19 outbreak. As Greek people had suffered over a decade of severe social, economic and political transformations, an exceptional research opportunity has emerged, while observing how the global crisis of COVID-19 pandemic caused even more intense social transformation in everyday lives allowing established as well as new coping strategies to emerge. Additionally, the sizable Greek diaspora who have left Greece before or during the crisis, have also experienced lockdowns on various different places around the globe. Such realisation offers a first-class opportunity to compare and contrast the narratives of Greek people who have gone through the consequences of a prolonged crisis, while having to confront an even more intense period of social and economic transformations while residing in Greece or abroad. 

Narratives of Leaving and Returning to Homeland: The Example of Greek Brain Drainers Living in the UK, Athanasia Chalari and Efi-Irini Koutantou, SAGE Journals, 29 October 2020


The Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Greek Settlement Policies Adopted: which were the immediate and long-term problems to be confronted and how these policies have been developed since the beginning of the refugee crisis?


Dr Maria Rizou (Visiting Fellow, September 2020 -August 2022) will examine in detail the recent Syrian refugee crisis (and more wider the current migration crisis) and thepolicies implemented by the Greek state and the UN in settling these refugees. The project will analyse the impacts of these policies for the refugees themselves but also for the local population living near or next to refugee camps and hot spots. Which types of interventions were used, and which were the intermediary outcomes and the final outcomes of these processes? The aim of this research project is also to analyse and follow the problems that refugees faced and continue to confront in their place of origin, during transit and at destination. This study aims to link the political actions to economic and social policies as well as potential economic gains and social benefits of regular migration. 



Past Research Projects

Over the years the Hellenic Observatory has produced high-quality, multi-disciplinary research.

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