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Dr Nikki Ikani conducts her research at the intersection of intelligence studies, public policy studies and EU foreign policy. Her overarching research goal is to assess the processes of knowledge production, receptivity and intelligence use by policymakers in European settings of decision-making.

Her previous research project at King’s College London was the ESRC-funded project entitled Foreign Policy and Intelligence in an Era of Surprise (INTEL), which focused on understanding the utility of estimative intelligence in this European setting, rather than the frequently studied US context. Specifically, she looked at processes of warning intelligence and estimative intelligence in the UK, Germany and the European Union with regard to two distinct recent strategic surprises: the Arab uprisings and the Ukraine conflict.

Her current research as Assistant Professor Intelligence and Security at Leiden University builds forward upon this ambition of developing a ‘European school’ of intelligence studies. Using literature on policy learning and knowledge use in policy making, she connects questions of intelligence production to questions of intelligence use and receptivity to intelligence by policymakers, particularly in Brussels but also in the European capitals.

A related strand of her research focuses on the governance of crisis and the way crises induce policy change, particularly at the European level. How do crises produce changes in specific European Union foreign policy areas, and how to conceptualise these policy changes? This question is addressed in her monograph Crisis and change in European Union foreign policy, to be published by Manchester University Press in 2021, which develops a novel typology for understanding foreign policy change at the European level.



  • BA Public Administration, Utrecht School of Governance, Utrecht University
  • MSc (Cum Laude) Political Science/International Relations, University of Amsterdam
  • MA European politics/Affaires Européennes, Sciences Po Paris
  • PhD European and International Studies, King’s College London

Research interests

  • The intelligence-policy nexus in European intelligence settings
  • Learning, knowledge production and knowledge use in intelligence and foreign policy
  • European Union Foreign Policy
  • European Neighbourhood Policy
  • Policy change
  • Historical Institutionalism
  • Foreign Policy Analysis


  • EU foreign policy change
  • European intelligence production and use
  • Intelligence and policymaking
  • Foreign policy analysis

Selected publications

  • Crisis and change in European Union Foreign policy: a framework of EU foreign policy change (Manchester University Press: Manchester), 2021 (forthcoming)