Johan P. Olsen

Professor Emeritus
Image of Johan P. Olsen
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Phone +47 22 85 88 66
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Visiting address Gaustadalléen 30A Floor UE 0373 Oslo
Postal address ARENA Centre for European Studies PO Box 1143 Blindern 0318 Oslo

Academic interests

  • Organisational decision-making
  • New institutionalism
  • Democracy, power and the Scandinavian model
  • The changing political organisation of Europe

More on academic interests.

Background

It was not written in the stars that I would have an academic career. I was born (1939) and grew up in Tromsø, beyond the Polar Circle in Norway, in a working class family without academic traditions and I worked as a journalist for five years before I began political science studies at the University of Oslo (1963). The further story involves many good helpers, and in particular three; four universities; and four research themes.
The good helpers

When I graduated from the University of Oslo (1967), professor Knut D. Jacobsen convinced me to change from journalism to academia. For that I am thankful. I also followed him (1969) to the University of Bergen where public administration was established as a separate discipline, combining political theory and organization theory. I was appointed professor in Public Administration and Organization Theory in 1973. In 1993 I returned to Oslo as Director of ARENA (Advanced Research on the Europeanization of the Nation-State) a new, basic research center, where I am now (2010) Professor Emeritus.

The most important event in my academic life, however, was visiting the University of California, Irvine (1968-69). Irvine was then a new university with an innovative school of social science led by Dean James G. March. Jim is a great human being and I am proud of having had him as a friend, colleague and co-author for more than 40 years. When he moved to Stanford University (1970), Stanford became my second academic home, with frequent visits, including a fellowship at The Center of Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences (1991-92).

Nevertheless, among my invaluable helpers, the most important has been Helene - my best friend since we were 16 and my spouse since we were 20. She is and has been the precondition for anything of value I may have done.

Download Johan P. Olsen's CV (updated January 2019)

Honors

Having had the opportunity to work on these themes over the years has been a great reward in itself. In addition I have received honors and awards, such as the John Gauss Award, the Aaron Wildavsky Enduring Contribution Award and the Herbert A. Simon Award from American colleagues, as well as several Norwegian and European honors and prizes. These include honorary doctorates in four countries, membership in three Academies, and being appointed Commander of the Royal Norwegian St. Olav’s Order by the King of Norway. A special pleasure was to get a Festschrift edited by my long-term colleagues Morten Egeberg and Per Lægreid: ‘Organizing Political Institutions’ (1999) with contributions from many outstanding Norwegian and international colleagues - a dear reminder that research can be a collective endeavor of great importance and pleasure.

Tags: Organisation theory, Public administration, Democracy, European integration, Institutions, European Union

Publications

Books only, for a complete list of publications, please download Johan P. Olsen's CV below.

  • Governing through Institution Building. Institutional Theory and Recent European Experiments in Democratic Organization. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2010 (forthcoming, September).
  • European integration and University Dynamics (co-edited with Peter Maassen, and contributing three chapters). Dordrecht: Springer 2007.
  • Europe in search of Political Order. An Institutional perspective on unity/diversity, citizens/their helpers, democratic design/horizontal drift, and the coexistence of orders. Oxford: Oxford University press 2007.
  • Demokrati i EU (Democracy in the EU), with Olof Petersson, Ulrika Mörth and Jonas Tallberg). Stockholm: SNS Förlag 2003.
  • Organizing Organizations (with Nils Brunsson) Oslo: Fagbokforlaget 1998.
  • Organisering av offentlig sektor. Perspektiver - reformer - erfaringer - utfordringer (Organizing the Public Sector. Perspectives - Reforms - Changes - Challenges, with Per Lægreid, eds.). Oslo: Tano, 1993).
  • Democratic Governance. (With James G. March). New York: The Free Press 1995. Reprinted: Governare la democracia. Bologna: il Mulino.
  • Lessons from Experience. Experiential Learning in Administrative Reforms in Eight Democracies. (Co-edited with B. Guy Peters). Oslo: Scandinavian University Press 1996.
  • Europa i Norden. Europeisering av nordisk samarbeid (Europe in the Nordisk Countries. Europeanization of Nordic Cooperation) (Co-edited with B.O. Sverdrup). Oslo: Tano 1998.
  • Svensk demokrati i förändring (The Changing Swedish Democracy) (ed.). Stockholm: Carlssons 1991.
  • Demokrati på svenska (Democracy Swedish Style). Stockholm: Carlssons 1990.
  • Makten att reformera (The Reforming Organization) (co-edited with Nils Brunsson). Stockholm: Carlssons 1990. A revised version has been published in English: The Reforming Organization. London: Routledge 1993. It has also been reprinted: The Reforming Organization. Oslo: Fagbokforlaget.
  • Rediscovering Institutions. The Organizational Basis of Politics (with James G. March). New York: Free Press 1989. Also Italian, Japanese, Polish and Spanish (Mexico) editions.
  • Petroleum og politikk (The Politics of Petroleum). Oslo: Tano, 1989.
  • Statsstyre og institusjonsutforming (State Governance and Institutional Design). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget 1988.
  • Spørsmål i Stortinget: Sikkerhetsventil i petroleumspolitikken (Questions in the Parliament: Safety Valve on the Politics of Oil) (with Lars Blichner). Bergen: Universitetsforlaget, l986.
  • Organized Democracy. Bergen: Universitetsforlaget 1983.
  • Meninger og makt (Opinions and Power). Bergen: Universitetsforlaget 1980.
  • Aksjoner og demokrati (Citizens' Initiatives and Democracy) (with Harald Sætren). Bergen: Universitetsforlaget 1980.
  • Byråkrati og beslutninger (Bureaucracy and Decision Making) (with Per Lægreid). Bergen: Universitetsforlaget 1978.
  • Politisk organisering (Political Organizing). Bergen: Universitetsforlaget 1978.
  • Ambiguity and Choice in Organizations (with James G. March). Bergen: Universitetsforlaget 1976 (reprinted 1979, 1982, also translated to Japanese).

Download CV here (pdf)

  • Gioia, Denny; March, James G.; Olsen, Johan P; Levinthal, Daniel; Argote, Linda & Walsh, James [Show all 11 contributors for this article] (2020). A Special “Provocations and Provocateurs” Section Honoring Jim March. Journal of Management Inquiry. ISSN 1056-4926. 29(2), p. 119–127. doi: 10.1177/1056492619899032.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2019). Sentraladministrasjonen i en utfordrende æra: Tid for ettertanke : . Norsk Statsvitenskapelig Tidsskrift. ISSN 0801-1745. 35(1), p. 4–27. doi: 10.18261/issn.1504-2936-2019-01-01. Full text in Research Archive
  • Olsen, Johan P (2018). The Bergen approach to public administration and political organization. Norsk Statsvitenskapelig Tidsskrift. ISSN 0801-1745. 34(4). doi: 10.18261/issn.1504-2936-2018-04-03. Full text in Research Archive
  • Olsen, Johan P (2018). Europa igjen på leting etter det gode styresett. Demokrati og demokrater, byråkrati og byråkrater i det 21. århundre. . Nordisk Administrativt Tidsskrift. ISSN 0029-1285. 95(3), p. 45–63. Full text in Research Archive
  • Olsen, Johan P (2018). Democratic accountability and the changing European political order. European Law Journal. ISSN 1351-5993. 24(1), p. 77–98. doi: 10.1111/eulj.12261. Full text in Research Archive
  • Olsen, Johan P (2017). Democratic accountability and the terms of political order. European Political Science Review. ISSN 1755-7739. 9(4), p. 519–537. doi: 10.1017/S1755773916000084. Full text in Research Archive
  • Olsen, Johan P (2017). Accountability democrática e a mudança da ordem política europeia Democratic accountability and the changing European political order. Revisto do Servico Publico. ISSN 0034-9240. 68(4), p. 745–784. doi: 10.21874/rsp.v68i4.3186.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2016). Democratic order, autonomy and accountability. In Christensen, Tom & Lægreid, Per (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook to Accountability and Welfare State Reforms in Europe. Routledge. ISSN 978-1-472-47059-1. doi: 10.1111/gove.12158.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2016). An Institutional Perspective. In Van de Walle, Steven & Groeneveld, Sandra (Ed.), Theory and Practice of Public Sector Reform. Routledge. ISSN 9781138887411. p. 9–26.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2015). Democratic Order, Autonomy, and Accountability. Governance. An International Journal of Policy, Administration and Institutions. ISSN 0952-1895. 28(4), p. 425–440. doi: 10.1111/gove.12158.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2015). Lorenzettis utfordring og demokratiets århundre. Statsvetenskaplig Tidsskrift. ISSN 0039-0747. 117(1), p. 5–29.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2015). Utfordringer for skandinavisk demokrati og statsvitenskap. Statsvetenskaplig Tidsskrift. ISSN 0039-0747. 117(2), p. 281–299.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2014). Desenho institucional em contextos democráticos. In Cunha, Eleonora Schettini M. & Theodoro, Hildelano Delanusse (Ed.), Desenho Institucional, Democracia e Participação: conexões teóricas e possibilidades analíticas. D'Plácido Editoria. ISSN 978-85-67020-91-4. p. 41–72.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2014). Accountability and Ambiguity. In Bovens, Mark; Goodin, Robert E. & Schillemans, Thomas (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Public Accountability. Oxford University Press. ISSN 978-0-19-964125-3. p. 106–124. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199641253.013.0013.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2013). The Institutional Basis of Democratic Accountability. Western European Politics. ISSN 0140-2382. 36(3), p. 447–473. doi: 10.1080/01402382.2012.753704.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2012). Hvor går statsvitenskapen? Norsk Statsvitenskapelig Tidsskrift. ISSN 0801-1745. 28(3), p. 125–151.
  • Olsen, Johan P; March, James G. & Cohen, Michael D. (2012). “A Garbage Can Model” At Forty: A Solution that Still Attracts Problems. In Harrison, Richard & Alessandro, Lomi (Ed.), The Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice: Looking Forward at Forty. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. ISSN 9781780527123. p. 19–30. doi: 10.1108/s0733-558x%282012%290000036005.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2010). Change and continuity. An institutional approach to institutions of democratic government. In Pierre, Jon & Ingraham, Patricia W. (Ed.), Comparative Administrative Change and Reform. Lessons Learned. McGill-Queen's University Press. ISSN 9780773536609. p. 15–47.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2009). Change and continuity. An institutional approach to institutions of democratic government. European Political Science Review. ISSN 1755-7739. 1(1), p. 3–32.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2009). European governance: Where do we go from here? In Kohler-Koch, Beate & Larat, Fabrice (Ed.), European Multi-level Governance: Contrasting Images in National Research. Edward Elgar Publishing. ISSN 9781847202222. p. 191–209.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2009). Institutional autonomy and democratic government. In Roness, Paul G. & Sætren, Harald (Ed.), Change and Continuity in Public Sector Organizations:Essays in Honour of Per Lægreid. Fagbokforlaget. ISSN 978-82-450-0754-1. p. 299–320.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2009). Democratic Government, Institutional Autonomy and the Dynamics of Change. Western European Politics. ISSN 0140-2382. 32(3), p. 439–465. doi: 10.1080/01402380902779048.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2008). Understanding institutions and logics of appropriateness: Introductory essay. In March, James G. (Eds.), Explorations in Organizations. Stanford University Press. ISSN 978-0804758970. p. 189–199.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2008). "What University and Academics for what Society?". In Sverdrup, Ulf & Trondal, Jarle (Ed.), The Organizational Dimension of Politics - Essays in Honour of Morten Egeberg. Fagbokforlaget. ISSN 978-82-450-0709-1. p. 123–144.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2008). The ups and downs of bureaucratic organization. Annual review of political science (Palo Alto, Calif. Print). ISSN 1094-2939. 11, p. 13–37. doi: 10.1146/annurev.polisci.11.060106.101806.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2007). Organization theory, public administration, democratic governance. Nordiske organisasjonsstudier. ISSN 1501-8237. 9(1), p. 93–110.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2007). Mellom økonomi og kultur det europeiske universitetet i endring. Norsk Statsvitenskapelig Tidsskrift. ISSN 0801-1745. 23(3), p. 267–287.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2007). The institutional dynamics of the European university. In Olsen, Johan P & Maassen, Peter (Ed.), University dynamics and European integration. Springer. ISSN 9781402059704. p. 25–54.
  • Olsen, Johan P; Maassen, Peter; Gornitzka, Åse & Stensaker, Bjørn (2007). 'Europe of knowledge': search for a new pact. In Olsen, Johan P & Maassen, Peter (Ed.), University dynamics and European integration. Springer. ISSN 9781402059704. p. 181–214.
  • Olsen, Johan P & Maassen, Peter (2007). European debates on the knowledge institution: the modernization of the university at the European level. In Olsen, Johan P & Maassen, Peter (Ed.), University dynamics and European integration. Springer. ISSN 9781402059704. p. 3–22.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2006). Maybe It Is Time to Rediscover Bureaucracy. Journal of public administration research and theory. ISSN 1053-1858. 16(1), p. 1–24.
  • Gornitzka, Åse & Olsen, Johan P (2006). Europeiske endringsprosesser og høyere utdanningsinstitusjoner. Tidsskrift for samfunnsforskning. ISSN 0040-716X. 47(2), p. 259–274.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2006). Unity and Diversity - European Style. In Mydske, Per Kristen & Peters, Ingo (Ed.), The Transformation of the European Nation State. Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag. ISSN 3-8305-1222-8. p. 11–43.
  • Olsen, Johan P & March, James G. (2006). Elaborating the 'New Institutionalism'. In Rhodes, R.A.W.; Binder, Sarah A. & Rockman, Bert A. (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Institutions. Oxford University Press. ISSN 0-19-927569-6. p. 3–20.
  • Olsen, Johan P & March, James G. (2006). The Logic of Appropriateness. In Moran, Michael; Rein, Martin & Goodin, Robert E. (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy. Oxford University Press. ISSN 978-0-19-926928-0. p. 689–708.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2004). Unity, diversity and democratic institutions: Lessons from the European Union. Journal of Political Philosophy. ISSN 0963-8016. 12(4), p. 461–495.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2004). Citizens, public administration and the search for theoretical foundations. PS: Political Science and Politics. ISSN 1049-0965. p. 69–79.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2003). Towards a European Administrative Space. Journal of European Public Policy. ISSN 1350-1763. 10(4), p. 506–531.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2003). Coping with Conflict at Constitutional Moments. Industrial and Corporate Change. ISSN 0960-6491. 12(4), p. 815–842.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2003). What is a Legitimate Role for Euro-Citizens? Comparative European Politics. ISSN 1472-4790. p. 91–110.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2003). Makt og demokrati i Europa: Størrelse teller, men... Horisont : næringspolitisk skriftserie. ISSN 1502-3699. p. 56–68.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2003). Europeanization. In Cini, Michelle (Eds.), European Union Politics. Oxford University Press. p. 333–348.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2002). Konstitusjonsdebatt og reformer: Europeiske eksperimenter og norsk nøling. Norsk Statsvitenskapelig Tidsskrift. ISSN 0801-1745. 18, p. 91–116.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2001). Omfordeling av makt i Europa. Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift. ISSN 0800-336X. 18(1), p. 23–38.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2001). Garbage cans, new institutionalism and the study of politics. American Political Science Review. ISSN 0003-0554. 95(1), p. 191–198.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2001). Omfordelingen av makt i Europa. Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift. ISSN 0800-336X. 18(1), p. 23–38.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2001). Organising European Institutions of Governance. A Prelude to an Institutional Account of Political Integration. In Wallace, Helen (Eds.), Interlocking dimensions of European integration. Macmillan Publishers Ltd.. ISSN 0-333-80296-9. p. 323–353.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2000). Europeisering som tredobbel politisk balanseakt. Norsk Statsvitenskapelig Tidsskrift. ISSN 0801-1745. 16(4), p. 435–466.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2000). Organisering og styring av universiteter. Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift. ISSN 0800-336X. 17(3), p. 231–249.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2000). Political engineering in the name of the people? Journal of European Public Policy. ISSN 1350-1763. 7(2), p. 310–316.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2000). Domstoler og demokrati. Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift. ISSN 0800-336X. 17(1), p. 86–90.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2000). How, then, does one get there? An institutionalist comment to Herr Fischer's vision of a European Federation, 2000. In Joerges, Christian; Mény, Yves & Weiler, J.H.H. (Ed.), What kind of constitution for what kind of polity?: Responses to Joschka Fischer. European University Institute. p. 163–179.
  • Olsen, Johan P & March, James G. (2000). Democracy and Schooling: An Institutional Perspective. In McDonnell, Lorraine M.; Timpane, P. Michael & Benjamin, Roger W. (Ed.), Rediscovering the democratic purposes of education. University Press of Kansas. ISSN 0-7006-1026-X. p. 148–173.
  • Olsen, Johan P (1999). Knut Dahl Jacobsen, Commemorative speech. Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.
  • Olsen, Johan P & March, James G. (1999). The institutional dynamics of international political orders. In Katzenstein, P.J.; Keohane, R.O. & Krasner, Stephen D. (Ed.), Exploration and Contestation in the Study of World Politics. the MIT Press, Cambridge Ma.
  • Olsen, Johan P & March, James G. (1999). An Institutional Perspective on Political Institutions. In March, James G. (Eds.), The Pursuit of Intelligence. Blackwell, Oxford. p. 52–71.

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  • Olsen, Johan P & Brunsson, Nils (2018). The Reforming Organization Making Sense of Administrative Change (Revidert utgave). Routledge. ISBN 9780815369509. 222 p.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2017). Democratic Accountability, Political Order, and Change Exploring Accountability Processes in an Era of European Transformation. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198800606. 224 p.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2010). Governing through Institution Building. Institutional Theory and Recent European Experiments in Democratic Organization. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-959393-4. 249 p.
  • Olsen, Johan P & Maassen, Peter (2007). University dynamics and European integration. Springer. ISBN 9781402059704. 245 p.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2007). Europe in search of political order. An institutional perspective on unity/diversity, citizens/their helpers, democratic design/historical drift, and the co-existence of orders. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199214341. 340 p.
  • Olsen, Johan P; Petersson, Olof; Mörth, Ulrika & Tallberg, Jonas (2003). Demokrati i EU. SNS förlag. ISBN 91-7150-914-3. 131 p.

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  • Olsen, Johan P (2018). Førjulsforedraget 2018: Europa igjen på letting etter det gode styresett - Demokrati og demokrater, byråkrati og byråkrater i det 21. århundre.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2018). Sentraladministrasjonen i en utfordrende æra: Tid for ettertanke.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2018). Organisasjon, makt og det fjerde styringsnivå.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2018). The Bergen Approach to Public Administration and Political Organization.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2017). Democratic accountability and the changing European political order.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2014). Debatten ingen tør ta. [Newspaper]. Klassekampen.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2010). Political responsibility and the European Union – By Myrto Tsakatika. European Law Journal. ISSN 1351-5993. 16(3), p. 365–367. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0386.2010.00512_1.x.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2009). Tafatt statsråd. Aftenposten (morgenutg. : trykt utg.). ISSN 0804-3116. 150(219).
  • Olsen, Johan P (2009). Hvem tar ansvar? Aftenposten (morgenutg. : trykt utg.). ISSN 0804-3116. 150(186).
  • Olsen, Johan P (2008). Børre Nylehn: Organisasjonsfaget I Norge. Analyser av et segmentert fagfelt. Tidsskrift for samfunnsforskning. ISSN 0040-716X. p. 651–655.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2007). The Garbage Can Model 2007. In Bailey, James R. & Clegg, Stewart R. (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Organization Studies. Sage Publications. ISSN 9781412915151. p. 534–537.
  • March, James G. & Olsen, Johan P (2006). James G. March and Johan P. Olsen. 1984. "The new institutionalism: Organizational factors in political life." - American political science review 78 (September): 734-49. American Political Science Review. ISSN 0003-0554. 100, p. 675–675.
  • Gornitzka, Åse & Olsen, Johan P (2006). Making Sense of Change in University Governance. IAU Horizons - World Higher Education News. 12(1).
  • Olsen, Johan P (2005). Snever innovasjonspolitikk. Forskningspolitikk. ISSN 0333-0273. p. 4–5.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2005). Unity and diversity - European style.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2005). The political organization of Europe: Differentiation and unification.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2004). �Maybe it is time to rediscover bureaucracy�?
  • Olsen, Johan P (2002). Omtale av Knut Dahl Jacobsen. In Arntzen, Jon Gunnar (Eds.), Norsk biografisk leksikon: Ihlen-Larsson. Kunnskapsforlaget. ISSN 82-57-31007-7.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2001). The terms of Political Order in the Europe of Tomorrow.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2000). Introductory remarks.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2017). Democratic Accountability and the Changing European Political Order. ARENA Centre for European studies. 2017(8).
  • Olsen, Johan P (2008). Institutional autonomy and democratic government. ARENA - Senter for europaforskning, Universitetet i Oslo. ISSN 0805-5130.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2008). Change and continuity: An institutional approach to institutions of democratic government. ARENA - Senter for europaforskning, Universitetet i Oslo. ISSN 0805-5130.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2008). European governance: Where do we go from here? ARENA- Senter for Europaforskning, Universtetet i Oslo. ISSN 0805-5130.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2005). The institutional dynamics of the (European) university. ARENA. 2005(15).
  • Olsen, Johan P (2005). Unity and diversity - European style. ARENA. 2005(24).
  • Olsen, Johan P & March, James G. (2005). Elaborating the "New Institutionalism". ARENA. 2005(11).
  • Olsen, Johan P (2004). Innovasjon, politikk og institusjonell dynamikk. ARENA.
  • Olsen, Johan P & March, James G. (2004). The logic of appropriateness. ARENA.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2001). Reforming European Institutions of Governance. ARENA. ISSN 0805-5130.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2001). Nettverk, tillit og institusjonelle sammenbrudd. ARENA. ISSN 0805-5130.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2001). The many faces of Europeanization. ARENA. ISSN 0805-5130.
  • Olsen, Johan P (2000). Organising European Institutions of Governance. ARENA. ISSN 0805-5130.

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Published Nov. 5, 2010 3:01 PM - Last modified Oct. 8, 2019 2:08 PM