IGPA Research Seminar Series

From bureaucracy to potentialisation: Danish public administration in transition

Thu 2 February 2017Professor Niels Akerstrom Andersen / 12.00 pm - 1.00pmSeminar Room 1, Building 24, University of Canberra

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The paper look at the development of public administration in Denmark over the past 150 years from a formal bureaucracy towards what I call a potentiality-seeking administration. Where formal bureaucracy was relating to its present as present past, the potentiality-seeking administration celebrates the future in at suppressing way. It is not about answering challenges. It is about seeking new possibilities. With buzz word such as “think out of the box”, “radical innovation” and “expect the unexpected” it is no longer about realising possibilities within the existing horizon, but about producing new possibilities crossing the horizon towards a new horizon. Danish public managers see the future as already formed by the present (and therefor not to trust). Instead they look for the future of the future. This challenges the basic constitutional premises of the public sector and its nature of an organization.


Niels Åkerstrøm Andersen is professor in public and political management at Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School. His field is public administration and welfare management in a very broad sense, which he approaches through systems theory, conceptual history, discourse theory and deconstruction. His latest books includes:  Public management in transition. The Orchestration of potentiality, (2016, with Justine Grønbæk Pors),  Managing intensity and play at work, Transient Relationships, (2013),  Hybrid forms of governance. Self-suspension of power, (2012 edited with Inger-Johanne Sand), Power at play. (2009), Partnerships: Machines of possibilities (2008).





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