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A Transatlantic History of Public Administration

Analyzing the USA, Germany and France

Fritz Sager, Christian Rosser, Céline Mavrot and Pascal Y. Hurni

Intellectual traditions are commonly regarded as cultural variations, historical legacies, or path dependencies. By analysing road junctions between different traditions of Public Administration this book contests the dominant perspective of path-dependent national silos, and highlights the ways in which they are hybrid and open to exogenous ideas.
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Chapter 8: Lessons learned: making administrative theory more realistic and administrative practice more successful

Fritz Sager, Christian Rosser, Céline Mavrot and Pascal Y. Hurni

Extract

The book has shown how ideas travel and under what conditions recipient traditions adapt and change. However, change is not a dichotomous concept and adaptation is best understood as incremental learning, eventually leading to gradual change rather than a full turnaround. The implications of these findings are threefold. First, our study strongly indicates a prudent treatment of administrative traditions as an explanatory variable in comparative Public Administration. Second, the core conditions for adoption of transferred ideas in administrative practice are threefold: demand for novel ideas, supportive actor networks and the institutionalization of the new idea. Finally, relevant Public Administration must thus keep in touch with public administrative practice. New concepts may fail in administrative practice. The inductive study of new theories has the important potential of preventing frustration when this happens. We therefore claim a concrete practical relevance of the historical study of administrative theory.

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