January - 2018
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Autonomy, Control and Coordination in Public Administration

The course centers around three core concepts transforming contemporary governance: the notions of autonomy, control and coordination are put to scrutiny at different levels of government and in different geographical and organizational contexts.

We first focus on the concept of autonomy by examining its meaning on a systemic level, along with its effect on the ability of the government as a whole to set and successfully pursue meaningful goals – that is, on state capacity and its constituent components, administrative and policy capacity. On a lower, organizational level of government (organizational) autonomy appears as an indispensable component of managerial, policy and/or political efficiency and performance. The increasing proliferation of state agencies structurally more or less decoupled from parent ministries/departments as well as the further autonomization of existing ones has been indeed a key component of public management reforms over the past 20 years. Therefore different aspects of this process – oftentimes referred to as agencification/agencialization – will be reviewed, such as the role of autonomous bodies in the contemporary “regulatory state” and the various patterns and issues present in different (mostly European) geographical contexts.

While, conceptually, control can be conceived of as the opposite of autonomy coordination is a central issue of governing organizations, irrespective of where they are located in the imaginary autonomy-control spectrum. Therefore the conceptual underpinnings and theoretical models of (both policy and organizational) coordination are examined; notably hierarchies, markets and networks as key metaphors describing existing clusters of coordinating mechanisms will be examined in their theoretical as well as empirical context (the EU and selected member states).


Readings required:

- Mark Bevir (2009): Key concepts in governance, Thousand Oaks: Sage pp. 1-30

- Linda Weiss (1999): The myth of the powerless state, Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 1-40

- Per Lægreid, Koen Verhoest and Werner Jann (2008): The Governance, Autonomy and Coordination of Public Sector Organizations. Public Organization Review 8:93–96

- Pollitt, Christopher et al. (2004): Agencies. How governments do things through semi-autonomous organizations, New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, Chapter 1.

- Laegreid, Per and Koen Verhoest (2010/In press) (eds): Governance of public sector organizations. Autonomy, control and performance, Houndmills / New York: Palgrave Macmillan, Chapters 3, 5, 9, 11, 12

- Andrew Jordan and Adriaan Schout (2006): The coordination of the European Union: Exploring the capacities of networked governance, Oxford: Oxford University Press (Chapter 1)

Readings recommended:

- Gilardi, Fabrizio (2002): Policy credibility and delegation to independent regulatory agencies: A comparative empirical analysis, Journal of European Public Policy 9:6 pp. 873-893

- Skocpol, Theda (1992): Bringing the state back in: Strategies of analysis in current research, In: Evans, Peter B., Dietrich Rueschemeyer and Theda Skocpol (eds): Bringing the state back in, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp. 3-43

Last modified: 2011.07.13.

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