1. Outline

The Public Sector in many OECD states has been undergoing reorganisation since the 80’s. Specific reform initiations have been triggered off in the various states by partially neoconservative parties (GB, USA) but to some extent also by left wing labour parties (New Zealand, Australia). Modernisation efforts however, all orientate around the concept of New Public Management (NPM). Structure and size of the public sector is a central point of criticism. The special appeal of NPM evolves from a combination of the old question of the function of the state, with new demands and problem situations for state intervention in a greatly changed international context. A revaluation of the state’s duties and a new organisation of the execution of duties is intended by means of state and local institutions.

  • On the one hand it concerns the manner of administrative organisational implementation of state-duties and in particular the introduction of a market-driven, customer orientated public service production, which is known under the keyword Binnenmodernisierung (internal modernisation). The dominating question is therefore: How can efficiency in the public sector be improved?
  • On the other hand the scope of state politics, a reassignment of public duties and therefore particularly the assignment of an optimum level of performance is a focus of interest. The question here is, whether and in what form state intervention should take place.

Since the beginning of the 90’s, modernisation efforts have intensified in Germany as well, above all initially in the area of internal modernisation (New Steering Models), but later also regarding the scope of state politics (lean state, activating state, "good governance"). Towards the end of the 90’s, economisation of administration in terms of an increase in the importance of economic rationality in former “non-economic“ areas and the increasing adjustment of performance towards economic categories and values and principles, continued to increase. This increase in importance along with the increasing “managerialism of administration” manifests itself in the marketing of public services through privatisation, the reinforced emergence of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and the attempt to create competitive structures.

2. Research Fields

The empirical analysis of processes of administrative modernisation has been one of Prof. Dr. Jörg Bogumil’s research focuses since the beginning of the 90’s. Since 1992 he has worked on two research projects, one dealing with the implementation of a concept for an administrative office for citizens (Bürgerladen) in Hagen (1992-1994) and the other with the implementation of a New Steering Model in local administration (1994-1996) (cp. Kißler/Bogumil/Wiechmann 1994; Kißler/Bogumil/Greifenstein/Wiechmann 1997 under publications). From 1998 he was a research advisor as part of the “communities of the future” network, a community initiative of the Hans-Böckler-Foundation, the Bertelsmann-Foundation and the KGSt, particularly responsible for the network “citizens’ community” (cp. Bogumil/Vogel 1999). In the year 2000 in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Dr. Leo Kißler, an evaluation of the modernisation process of the city council of Detmold was compiled. A part of these research results was introduced into the teachings at the FernUniversität Hagen (open university of Hagen) by way of a mutually compiled recent issue of the open university course 3915 (Modernisation of the state, 1997, completely revised new edition 2000, as volume: Naschold/Bogumil 2000) with Prof. Dr. Frieder Naschold, which provides a comprehensive overview of the international and national modernisation discussion.

The results of the empirical analysis of modernisation processes brought about an expansion of the research field in two directions.

  • Firstly the efforts towards questions of organisation were intensified, particularly through the inclusion of micro-political approaches. The open university course 3904, compiled together with Prof. Dr. Josef Schmid is a product of this research. (Politik in Organisationen, 2000, cp. As volume Bogumil/Schmid 2001).
  • Secondly, Jörg Bogumil’s postdoctoral lecture qualification thesis (Habilitation), completed in August 2000 and awarded the Carl-Goerdeler Prize, deals with the processes of administrative modernisation (cp. Bogumil 2001). This studies which effects the various modernisation trends of the 90’s (Public Management, Council Constitution Reforms, Development of Cooperative Forms of Democracy) had on political governing abilities and democratic legitimacy of local decision-making processes and which changes (power shifts) arise for the local decision-making system.

This assignment also includes theoretical reference to the third party funded project "citizens’ community" carried out in the years 2001 – 2003. Here it is questioned, how the expansion of various and above all cooperative forms of citizen participation fit in with the structures of representative and direct-democracy at local level. (cp. Bogumil/Holtkamp/Schwarz 2003). Furthermore the most recent increasingly emerging privatisation and liberalisation efforts e.g. in the area of public utilities (electricity, water, refuse), and their effects on the political governing abilities and democratic legitimacy of administration are being increasingly considered (Bogumil/Holtkamp 2002c; 2003f; Bogumil/Holtkamp/Wollmann 2003). In April 2004 in the form of a new third party funded project, a comprehensive evaluation of local administrative modernisation measures began, 10 years after the launch of the new governing-model in Germany (duration of 2 years). Likewise since the year 2004, increasing efforts towards administrative structure reforms in the German ‘Bundesländer’ have been a focus of interest. Firstly in regard to this, a report was submitted concerning reform suggestions in NRW (Bogumil/Reichard/Siebart 2004) and later concerning the administrative structure reforms in Baden-Württemberg (Bogumil/Ebinger 2005). Likewise in the year 2005 the new third party funded project begins for the modernization of the environmental administration, which is concerning with the effect of changed administrative structures and methods on the quality of environmental protection.

In summary, research efforts in regard to modernisation processes consolidate in administration, particularly local administration, in the tertiary sector and with regard to citizen engagement and citizen participation. In particular this entails the cooperation and the effects of the extremely diverse modernisation tendencies in politics and administration: processes of economisation on the one hand and processes of democratisation on the other.