The special profile of this subject area covers the outlines of a modern comparative administrative science which is guided by issues from the areas of political science, the sociology of organization, and management orientation. These multidisciplinary research questions address the functioning of the entire public sector on all international and intrastate levels. The understanding of the "public sphere" is seen broadly, and covers, in addition to state and communal politics, for example also public enterprises and non-profit organizations.
The context of these public functions – and thus also of the academic work – is increasingly influenced by comprehensive challenges that question the established structural and behavioral patterns in public organizations, as well as our traditional understanding of the "state", "administration", and the "public sphere." The changed economic and budgetary framework, social and political change, the use of new technologies, and not least the growing internationalization require a comprehensive and sustainable modernization of administration. This modernization must not be limited to technocratic reforms of leadership structures, but has to keep focused on the complexity of public organizations and their various interdependencies with politics, business, and society.
The objective of this subject area is to support – in research as well as in teaching - this modern development of administration in a comparative, international perspective with regard to its causes, its current reform projects, and its consequences for politics and society. The content of the research perspectives is guided by three main currents of classical and current debates in administrative science:
Administration and New Forms of Governance in Politics, Business and Society
"The exercise of authority consists precisely in administration" (Max Weber): If you follow this insight, the central role that a politically-oriented administrative theory plays in the understanding of modern society becomes immediately understandable. The focus is not on red tape, dusty files, or office lore, but on the question with which means public politics can be shaped in our modern knowledge and organization societies. However, the forms and means of this politico-administrative governance are undergoing a fundamental change: Fewer centralized and hierarchically organized forms, more lateral, negotiating relationships, or governance based on market coordination and competitive incentives. And quite generally, the borderlines of the public sector are fraying: How can a new balance between "public" and "private" be determined and which differentiating criteria can be resorted to?
Administration and New Public Management
Modern administration, and with it modern administrative science, has increasingly opened up to a management orientation. Criteria of economic efficiency are becoming more and more applicable, in addition to political rationality. And yet the following is still true: "Public and private management are fundamentally alike – in all unimportant respects" (Wallace Sayre). The leadership and decision-making problems in public organizations can thus be compared to those of private companies to a limited extent only. Which borrowings from the pool of the reform instruments of business administration can thus be recommended for the different forms of administration on a state and community level, and for public institutions? How can the power to reform and perform be increased, given the specific conditions of public organizations?
Administration and New European Political Systems
The classical form of the European nation state is increasingly under attack from at least two sides: The growing awareness of the regional level undermines its legitimization and assertiveness from below, whereas, on the other hand, a supranational level has developed as a result of the European integration. This Europeanization in turn is only one version of various forms of the increasing internationalization or globalization of public functions and services. The frame of reference of nation states has thus become too narrow for a modern view on administrative reforms, their reasons, and their consequences. Which transnational administrative interdependencies are there? What do "Europeanization" and "globalization" mean for modern administrative development? How do inter- and supranational administrative organizations work?