ADMINISTORY Journal, Issue 6

Today, innovation seems to have taken on the status that Niklas Luhmann ascribed to the concept of “reform” in 1971: it carries “in itself an impeccable standard and a critique of what exists as the bad world” (Luhmann 1971, 203). Since the 1990s, the concept of innovation has experienced a boom and has become a leading category of policy. In the context of administrations, it is often associated with deficits: In bureaucratic organisations, innovation is (almost) impossible; conversely, the goal of innovation is often called “de-bureaucratisation”. Despite these critical assessments, administrations have repeatedly adapted to new requirements and have been, or are, the subject of numerous attempts at reform. 

The historical investigation of innovation processes in administrations opens up interesting perspectives on innovation: On the one hand, it offers the opportunity to expand the concept of innovation beyond its restriction to scientific and technical novelties. On the other hand, it also challenges the distinction between “technical” and “social” innovations (Zapf 1989; Gillwald 2000). In turn, the question of innovations directs attention to changes in (cultural) technologies and media used by administrations and their relationship to changes in administrative practices.

We welcome contributions that deal with one of the following or other innovation-related questions:

  1. Changes in the design of administrations as interfaces with the population (counters, service areas) 
  2. Technical infrastructure and administrative media (desks, typewriters, IT)
  3. Changes in the forms of management of administrative practices (human resources management, new public management) 
  4. Administrative reforms (objectives, implementation)