Towards a European Administrative Space?

This paper debates the concept of administrative convergence in the light of a putative European model of administration. It is found that ideal-type characteristics may be too general to capture the multitude of administrative and organizational practices.

ARENA Working Paper 26/2002 (html)

Johan P. Olsen

A development towards a ‘European Administrative Space’ (EAS), understood as convergence on a common European model, can be seen as a normative program, an accomplished fact, or a hypothesis. Here, focus is on the hypothesis and the search for analytical models with explanatory power. The approach raises several questions: What is ‘convergence’ and what criteria can be used to decide whether an EAS exists? To what extent has there been convergence? Which aspects of administrative systems have converged and towards what? Through what processes have convergence taken place and how can it be explained? The aspiration of the paper is to suggest a way of thinking about administrative convergence, more than to give a firm answer about the extent of European convergence. The hypothesis that a specific European Administrative Space is emerging is held up against two competing, or supplementing, hypotheses: a global convergence hypothesis and an institutional robustness hypothesis.

A later version of this article was published in Journal of European Public Policy 10 (4): 506-531, 2003.

Tags: administrative adaptation, institutions, Europeanization
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM - Last modified Apr. 26, 2011 11:37 AM