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Increasing attention is being paid to the application of complex systems theories in the social sciences. Although this trend is less prominent in the field of public administration, some examples of the use of complexity theory in research in this domain can be found. This article discusses three central ideas in complex systems theory that are relevant for public administration research: dynamics, self-organization and coevolution. After briefly introducing each idea, the article traces similar concepts in public administration research. It then contrasts them with each other, and discusses how they can improve our understanding of phenomena in public administration. Finally, the article explores how the manager’s role is perceived in public administration and what insights complexity theory can add to that view.
One of the issues within the network approach to policy concerns the influence of the network structure on the policy processes that are taking place within it. A central point is the concept of rules. The basic assumption is that actors in networks form communal rules during their interactions. This article shows the way in which these network rules influence the policy processes. First, the rules of two local social housing networks are reconstructed. We then show how these rules differ, for example in terms of rules for conflict regulation and autonomy, between the two networks and how they influenced the decision-making surrounding the rehabilitation and restructuring of post-war housing districts that took place within these networks. We look at the extent to which these differences in the rule structures of the networks explain t...
Modern decision-making is highly complex. Every initiator of a decision-making process is dependent upon a wide variety of other actors (and their resources) to achieve meaningful results. In this paper we track the resources of complexity in three dimensions: - The uncertainty about content (and resulting negotiations about problem definitions and knowledge) - The strategic uncertainty (as result of the involvement of many actors with different strategies, but also as consequence of the many places were decisions are being taken) - Institutional variety (the different set of rules which are used by the wide variety of actors from different networks) We also show that in this chaotic pattern of decision-making a few stabilising factors exist. These include the interdependencies, interaction patterns, rules and trust relationships in ...
Public Private Partnerships (PPP) have been much discussed throughout Europe, but does the practice match the idea of cooperating actors who achieve added value together and share risks? An analysis of three cases of PPP in The Netherlands suggests that practice tends to be less ideal than the idea. Actors have difficulties in achieving actual joint decision-making and organisation and tend to organise their interactions in a traditional way: by contracting out and by separating responsibilities. From a network perspective we will analyse the actor constellations around urban investment projects in which the use of PPP is discussed and elaborated. We will identify their institutional characteristics and the behavioural logic used by public and private actors. Despite the presence of a great many good intentions, institutional factors p...
De volkshuisvesting is de afgelopen jaren een probleem rijker geworden: het verval van naoorlogse woningcomplexen. Het is een probleem dat behoorlijk tot de verbeelding spreekt. De landelijke pers vindt er regelmatig stof in voor aangrijpende verhalen. Het woord betonrot is uitgevonden en gemeengoed geworden. Gemor tegen de 'moderne revolutiebouw', aversie tegen hoogbouw, ergernis over vandalisme en criminaliteit zijn sentimenten die door deze verhalen beroerd worden. De gedwongen verhuizing van bepaalde groepen bewoners en de sloop of 'aftopping' van naoorlogse complexen zouden een culminatie vormen voor de publieke belangstelling. In deze studie, uitgevoerd door het RIW-instituut voor volkshuisvestingsonderzoek in bpdracht van het Ministerie van Volkshuisvesting Ruimtelijke Ordening en Milieubeheer, is het onderzoek en de literatuur ...
Within public administration and policy sciences the concept of policy networks nowadays is well accepted. Not much attention has been paid so far to strategies aimed at institutional design. Therefore, in this article, we develop a conceptual framework to study institutional design more thoroughly. We do this by specifying the nature and variety of institutional rules that guide the behaviour of actors within networks. Given this categorization of rules, we identify possible strategies to change network rules. Next, we focus on the strategic context of attempts to influence the nature of institutional rules: the process of institutional design. We conclude with suggestions to apply the conceptual framework to empirical research into the forms, impacts and implications of attempts to change the institutional features of policy networks.
Initiatives to encourage and stimulate the involvement of citizens but also various societal organisations in decision-making can be seen in a wide variety of European countries. Citizens panels, citizens charters, new forms of participation and other forms are being used to increase the influence of citizens on decision making and to improve the relation between citizens and elected politicians. In the Netherlands a lot of local governments have experimented with interactive decision-making that is enhancing the influence of citizens and interest groups on public policy making. Main motives to involve stakeholders in interactive decision making are diminishing the veto power of various societal actors by involving them in decision making, improving the quality of decision making by using information and solutions of various actors and...
It has become popular to advocate partnership arrangements. Such partnerships may be seen as new forms of governance, which fit in with the imminent network society. However, the idea of partnership is often introduced without much reflection on the need to reorganize policy-making processes and to adjust existing institutional structures. In this contribution, we discuss the ambiguity of partnerships. An empirical basis is provided by means of an analysis of the policy making on the expansion of the Rotterdam harbor. This case indicates that although new governance schemes are being proposed and explored, they still have to comply with the existing procedures in which they are imbedded. Governments especially are not prepared to adjust to governance arrangements. Policy making continues to be based on selfreferential organizational de...
It has become popular to advocate partnership arrangements. Such partnerships may be seen as new forms of governance, which fit in with the imminent network society. However, the idea of partnership is often introduced without much reflection on the need to reorganize policy-making processes and to adjust existing institutional structures. In this contribution, we discuss the ambiguity of partnerships. An empirical basis is provided by means of an analysis of the policy making on the expansion of the Rotterdam harbor. This case indicates that although new governance schemes are being proposed and explored, they still have to comply with the existing procedures in which they are imbedded. Governments especially are not prepared to adjust to governance arrangements. Policy making continues to be based on self-referential organizational d...
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