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1st Obergurgl Governance Symposium
Governance: Multi-Level or Post-Democratic


Academic Programme: Prof. Paul du Gay (CRESC) and Prof. Alan Scott (University of Innsbruck)

Dates: 18th-20th October 2007 - Programme    

Place: Obergurgl Centre, University of Innsbruck

Partners: University of Innsbruck (WuV, GCSRectorate for Research), CRESC and NODE Research Austria


Over the last quarter of a century or so we have witnessed systematic attempts - influenced by public choice theory, and fuelled by popular resentment against bureaucratic power - to dismantle bureaucracies and replace them with organizational forms that are more 'flexible', more 'accountable', more 'responsive', more 'entrepreneurial', less 'hierarchical', and 'flatter'. However, in the meantime we also have a growing literature demonstrating that the measures designed to counter the dysfunctions of bureaucracy in general, and of the state in particular, themselves have problematic side-effects. The tightening of mechanisms of control designed to deliver accountability are said:

  • to corrode trust and solidarity within - and beyond - organizations;
  • to lead to a decline of the spirit of public service and the growing subordination of procedural to political concerns;
  • to encourage new and increasingly centralized and unconstrained governance styles;
  • are paradoxically themselves not immune to those very tendencies that they sought to counter - i.e. uncontrolled growth and high (espacially time) costs

Where the influence of these organizational forms spills over into political governance, these implications are likewise viewed with concern. Applied to states, these changes have been said to have fundamentally altered state capacities and created 'new state spaces'. New forms of 'network governance' have also been criticised for lacking democratic accountability and for their exclusivity; for encouraging the manipulation of public opinion and populism; and for facilitating graft by weakening the state-market boundary. Thus, the search is on for forms of both organizational and political governance that are neither nostalgic and backwards-looking nor take the market and the firm as the only models for state action and good governance.

At the end of A Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (1754), Rousseau describes a mix of individualized self-interest, inequality and strong, but only weakly legitimized, leadership, and poses the question: what form of politics can be 'built on the ruins of the Republic'? The workshop poses Rousseau's question anew. We seek to bring together both the main themes and certain key voices in an attempt to re-think governance beyond markets and network fetishism.



Supported by:

CRESC   ESCR  Unilogo  Logo_Obergurgl   Italien-Zentrum  BMWF 



Obergurgl Governance Symposien