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Beyond Bureaucracy

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Part of the Public Administration and Information Technology book series (PAIT,volume 25)


This chapter describes Beyond Bureaucracy as an emerging research field concerned with radical innovation for governance of juropolitical systems. The grand objective of Beyond Bureaucracy is to act as an incubator for the development of new forms of organisation and new technological artefacts, which would enable transformation of public governance. In this role, Beyond Bureaucracy does not prescribe a concrete outcome, but rather calls for creative ideas, radical visions, and rigorous discussions on how twenty-century technology can serve as a basis for further transformation and radical development. This chapter explains how Beyond Bureaucracy differs from related fields like e-Government or e-Democracy, provides an overview over the state of research in Beyond Bureaucracy, provides links to follow-up literature, and aims to provide a seed vision on the transformation potentials that could be researched-towards in scope of Beyond Bureaucracy.


  • Radical Innovation
  • Incremental Innovation
  • Unprecedented Scale
  • Democratic Control
  • Common Wealth

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  1. 1.

    The use of system here does not prescribe/refer to a concrete instance of one single technical system.

  2. 2.

    This vision is not to be mistaken though for similar-sounding endeavours of the past, as e.g. the Soviet All State Automated System of Management OGAS, a failed undertaking whose goal was to network all parts of the Soviet command economy in order to control and steer them centrally (Peters 2016); neither should it be mistaken for the objectives of Leibniz’ mysterious Characteristica Universalis, which partly aimed at mathematically capturing societal relations (cf. Gerhardt 1890).

  3. 3.

    The collective of these systems and their agents is the bureaucracy in the context of BB-research; for an overview over the differing semantics of the term bureaucracy as such, see (Albrow 1970). For similar uses of the term “bureaucracy” as in the context of BB, see (Downs 1967; Graeber 2015).

  4. 4.

    Mind you: even though the political idea of this Eighteenth century slogan was representation through parliaments, one must bear in mind that institutional representation was the peak of democratic engagement possible at that time. New possibilities brought by the twentieth century electronic technologies invite to think of better and more inclusive ways, which might well render parliamentary institutions obsolete. Again, it is a matter of radical innovation [e.g. liquid democratic decision-making (Paulin 2014)] versus incremental innovation [e.g. participatory budgeting (Boukhris et al. 2015), or liquid-democratic policy shaping (Blum and Zuber 2016)].

  5. 5.

    This includes, but is not limited to the beneficiaries of the system of public administration, the political system, the judicial system, the public healthcare system, system of public education, military, etc.

  6. 6.

    I owe this quote to my father, Prof. A. Paulin, who frequently used it to emphasize the paradigm-changing impact twentieth century technologies had on human civilisation.

  7. 7.

    The reactions to which are reflected in diverse data privacy legislation, the institution of information officers, data retention laws, national firewalls, etc.


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Paulin, A. (2017). Beyond Bureaucracy. In: Paulin, A., Anthopoulos, L., Reddick, C. (eds) Beyond Bureaucracy. Public Administration and Information Technology, vol 25. Springer, Cham.

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