EGPA Coming Back to Speyer in 2014

EGPA coming back to Speyer in 2014, or:
EGPA’s Origins in three “Speyer Conferences” before 1975

Stefan FISCH

Stefan FischFounded in 1975, EGPA / GEAP (European Group for Public Administration / Groupe Européen d’Administration Publique) has become a vivid network of both researchers and practitioners in the field of public administration. EGPA acts as a regional structure within the Brussels based IIAS / IISA (International Institute of Administrative Sciences / Institut International des Sciences Administratives).[1]

In the 50s and 60s of the 20th century the focus of IIAS – the only international institution in the field – began to change: New, decolonialized states came into the Institute, and they began to influence its agenda by their issues which were different from those discussed up to then. At the same time, the perception of the United States and their administrative science tradition changed in wide parts of Europe. No longer a nationally orientation of exchange and discussion seemed sufficient. Instead, an explicitly European common base for contact and exchange seemed necessary.

Fritz Morstein Marx, then professor of comparative administrative science at Speyer (formally still a Hochschule then, and not yet a University) was one of the drivers in this process. In fact, his chair had a denomination which was unique, at least in Europe. Born in 1900, he had begun to serve as a law-trained higher official in German administrations in the late 1920s. A thorough critic of Hitler, he left his country after Hitler’s access to power in 1933. In the United States he started a brilliant second career in public administration and its scholarly reflection, from where he got his newly erected Speyer chair in 1962. This was an early and deliberate step to internationalize the Speyer Hochschule. The governing body of the Hochschule, representing the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the public administration ministry in Germany, and the (then) eleven states of the Federal Republic, felt that the new Germany was not well connected to international research in Public Administration. In order to strengthen German competitivity in the field of administrative sciences, some kind of a German research ‘think tank’ was needed. Eventually, it was established in 1962 at Speyer as “Institut für Forschung und Information”, the nucleus of today’s Research Institute.[2]

The vocation of Morstein Marx to the new comparative chair at Speyer in the same year, and his systematic approach together with his international activities perfectly fitted into that new direction. In 1968 he prepared and chaired a first comparative conference on state and tendencies of administrative sciences in European countries here at Speyer. In his preface to the conference proceedings he noted as one of the important results, that although in almost all European countries there was a considerable lack of knowledge about administrative sciences in the other countries of the continent, many participants had expressed to him their wish to have regularly conferences of this European type at different places.[3] In the following year, Morstein Marx published the key results of what he called his “Speyer conference”. Since it was based on German as language of international exchange he wrote in “a more generally accessible tongue” an English article for the IIAS review.[4]

The next international conference at Speyer took place in 1971, after the sudden death of Morstein Marx in 1969 under the chair of his successor Roman Schnur.[5] The next Speyer international conference was chaired in 1974 by Morstein Marx’s second successor, Heinrich Siedentopf, who was to become later on an important contributor to EGPA activities. The conference proceedings include a welcome speech by the first EGPA president, Professor Arne F. Leemans from the Gemeentelijke Universiteit Amsterdam (now: Universiteit van Amsterdam)[6] — but as we all know, EGPA was founded one year later only. This contribution by Leemans had been added to the volume, published in 1976, in a form taking the perspective of 1975 when he was no longer only designated president, but holding his office.[7] In fact, this Speyer conference in 1974 was an informal gathering of many of the key academics involved in the foundation of EGPA. Besides Leemans, its coming first president, there were many more founders present as professor Sabino Cassese, University of Ancona (Italy), professor Nevil Johnson, Nuffield College Oxford (United Kingdom), professor Frederick F. Ridley, University of Liverpool (United Kingdom), professor Kauko Sipponen, University of Tampere (Finland), professor Jerzy Starosciak, Polish Academy of Sciences at Warsaw, and from Speyer Heinrich Siedentopf and Klaus König. In his short text Leemans again referred to the wishes expressed by his colleagues from all over Europe towards Morstein Marx at the first “Speyer Conference” in 1968. For him the the 1974 Speyer conference was strongly connected to EGPA (which was at that time being founded). Expressis verbis he thanked the Speyer Hochschule for bringing together European administrative scientists. For Leemans the aim of EGPA was to transfer an U.S.-American pattern of cooperation to a European scale. Indeed, this was the really new and important idea born in the years before by Morstein Marx and his European guests. Seen from Europe, a consolidated and integrated community of researchers in administrative sciences were in constant active interaction across the Atlantic. Their colleagues in Europe still had to treat a field, which they conceived as a mixture of juridical approaches with management elements; therefore it was far less established in the European academic world. They felt to have to work rather as isolated fighters, and they felt further hindered by the variety of their languages.

On the whole, the “Speyer Conference” of 1968 (!) and the two following Speyer conferences up to 1974 were important steps to bring together academics and practitioners in their common reflection of public administration – and they all were held in the modern architecture of our University Building of 1961 which had been planned by the famous German architect Sep Ruf in the lines of Bauhaus architecture, as the conference of 2014 will be.

When EGPA comes to Speyer in 2014, it comes back, back to its origins – although never before an EGPA conference had been held here. Be welcome at Speyer!

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Stefan Fisch

Lehrstuhl für Neuere und Neueste Geschichte, insbesondere Verfassungs- und Verwaltungsgeschichte

Deutsche Universität für Verwaltungswissenschaften Speyer


[1]      See my articles „The Speyer Conference“. Some Origins of EGPA / GEAP before 1975. In: Bouckaert, Geert / van de Donk, Wim (ed.): The European Group for Public Administration (1975 – 2010). Perspectives for the Future / Le Groupe Européen pour l‘Administration Publique (1975 – 2010). Perspectives pour le futur. Bruxelles: Bruylant 2010, p. 7-10, and Origins and History of the International Institute of Administrative Sciences from its Beginnings to its Reconstruction After World War II (1910 – 1944/47), in: Duggett, Michael / Rugge, Fabio (eds.): IIAS / IISA. Administration & Service 1930 – 2005 -, Amsterdam 2005, S. 35-60.

[2]      Amos, Heike: Zur Geschichte des Forschungsinstituts für öffentliche Verwaltung bei der (Deutschen) Hochschule für Verwaltungswissenschaften 1956/1962 – 2001, Speyer 2002.

[3]      „Zum ersten stellte sich heraus, dass in fast allen der europäischen Länder ein erhebliches Maß an Unkenntnis über Stand und Tendenzen der Verwaltungswissenschaft in den anderen Ländern besteht… Und schließlich ließ der Verlauf der Tagung den vielfach geäußerten Wunsch laut werden, europäische Arbeitstagungen dieser Art an verschiedenen Orten mehr oder minder regelmäßig abzuhalten.“, Morstein Marx, Fritz: Vorwort des Tagungsleiters, in: Morstein Marx, Fritz (ed.): Verwaltungswissenschaft in europäischen Ländern. Stand und Tendenzen. Vorträge und Diskussionsbeiträge der internationalen verwaltungswissenschaftlichen Arbeitstagung der Hochschule für Verwaltungswissenschaften Speyer 1968 (= Schriftenreihe der Hochschule Speyer. 42), Berlin 1969, p. 15-17, here p. 16-17.

[4]      Morstein Marx, Fritz: A New Look at Administrative Science in Europe: The Speyer Conference, in: International Review of Administrative Sciences 35 (1969), p. 292-301.

[5]      Knöpfle, Franz: Begrüßungsansprache des Rektors, in: Schnur, Roman (ed.): Aktuelle Probleme der Ministerialorganisation. Referate und Diskussionsbeiträge der internationalen verwaltungswissenschaftlichen Arbeitstagung der Hochschule für Verwaltungswissenschaften Speyer 1971 (= Schriftenreihe der Hochschule Speyer. 48), Berlin 1972, p. 13-18, here p. 17, notes 2 and 3.

[6]      „Heute haben wir uns hier zur ersten Tagung zusammengefunden, mit der die European Group of Public Administration verbunden ist.“, Leemans, Arne F.: Grußwort der EGPA, in: Siedentopf, Heinrich (ed.): Regierungspolitik und Koordination. Vorträge und Diskussionsbeiträge der Internationalen Arbeitstagung der Hochschule für Verwaltungswissenschaften Speyer 1976 (= Schriftenreihe der Hochschule Speyer. 57), Berlin 1976, p. 25-26, here p. 25.

[7]      Oral information by my Speyer colleague Prof. Dr. Dr. Klaus König in April 2010.

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