EU Administration and Multi Level Governance – Activity Report 2010-2013


Prof. Edoardo Ongaro (Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK)


Prof. Dr. Michael W. Bauer (Humboldt University, Berlin)


Prof. Dr. Andrew Massey (University of Exeter)

Activities & Achievements 2010-13 – a brief account (with the benefit of the hindsight)

In the years 2009 and 2010 Edoardo Ongaro, Andrew Massey and Michael W. Bauer developed a programme for a new PSG that was to focus on key features of the European Union (EU), namely the administration of its institutions, and the Multi-Level Governance (MLG) frameworks through which it operates in the various sectors of European public policy. The rationale behind the choice of focus was that the investigation of the administration of EU institutions had become an important component for the advancement of the study of public administration but did not yet receive appropriate attention in the frame of EGPA, and little systematic attention in other scholarly networks as well. The major topics to be studied were the European Administrative Space, the new multilevel networks in the European Union, and the Administration of European Union organisations. From the theoretical standpoint, theories from public management and approaches from political science, organization science and law were supposed to provide the necessary guidance.

In the strategic plan formulated in 2010, the Study Group co-chairs wrote:

“Understanding management change and policy-making dynamics in systems of multilevel governance is a daunting challenge. That is especially true for the public administration community as key goals encompass both the production of basic knowledge and also – and rightly so – the aim to clarify the implications for practitioners with regard to the means to optimise structures and procedures of national and international public services.”

The study group aimed to contribute to the theoretical debate – bridging debates in law, political science, management science and classical public administration – and likewise to facilitate the transfer of research results to the practice. The study group spotted two major areas of debate: administrative and management change in supranational administrations, and horizontal as well as vertical administrative interaction in the emerging European Administrative Space.


Key topics addressed in the works of the Study group during 2010-13 have been:

  • Administrative and management Change in Supranational Administrations
  • Horizontal and Vertical Administrative Interaction in the European Union
  • Management reforms in European and international Organizations
  • Heterogeneity and Similarities in Multilevel Administrative Interaction
  • Administrative Integration and Disintegration in the European Union
  • Supranational Law as Encouragement and Constraint

This agenda was followed by developing topical Calls for Paper in the subsequent Annual Conferences of EGPA

  • In the Toulouse conference in 2010 the study group invited papers about the Emerging Multilevel Administrative System in Europe: Patterns, Problems and Perspectives.
  • In Bucharest 2011 the study group focused multilevel administrative system in Europe. This system takes place within the context of an increasingly differentiated polity, one with profound implications at global, European/regional, national and local levels. A “Max Weber forum” also provided specific inputs to the study of the EU administration between “old” and “new” public administration
  • In Bergen 2012 the focus was “Creating and Keeping Working Routines in Turbulent Times” but also recent developments in “Parliamentary Administrations” were jointly investigated.
  • Administrative Coordination and the impact of the fiscal crisis was the topic in Edinburgh 2013

Alongside the annual meeting during the EGPA conference, the Study Group also organised two workshops:  a seminar in Berlin at the Humboldt University (European Multilevel Administration) in 2011, and a High Level Seminar “Multi-Level Governance: The Missing Linkages” at the Northumbria University in Newcastle in 2013.

Between 2010 and 2013 the Study Group thus organised six high level events and around 100 papers were presented at these opportunities. Moreover, a core group of participants to these events provided for continuous and challenging scholarly dialogue and exchange. A number of book projects are on their way. Edoardo Ongaro is currently editing a book provisionally titled “Multi-Level Governance: The Missing Linkages” to be published by Emerald in 2015, and Michael Bauer is editing a Palgrave Handbook on the “European Administrative System” with around 25 contributors, most of them regular participants at the Study Group meetings. A symposium on the administrative reforms of the European Commission was also edited by Edoardo Ongaro in the International Review of Administrative Sciences in 2012.

As the founding co-chairs take on other important tasks in the EGPA community and elsewhere (Edoardo became president of EGPA, Andrew editor of IRAS and Michael organises EGPA 2014 at the German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer) it became appropriate and necessary to put the responsibility for the PSG XIV in new and younger hands. With Ellen Mastenbroek, Gijs Jan Brandsma and Ellen Heidbreder that new team formed naturally. All the new leaders have been active contributors to the works of the study groups almost since its inception. They have been extremely active and full of new ideas and vibrant for new strategic developments and activities to push the PSG XIV to the next level.

The outgoing co-chairs are thankful for the opportunity EGPA gave them to develop the Study Group. The multilevel and European dimension of public Administration has proved to be an important and salient issue to tackle, and a productive perspective from which to investigate and theorise about administrative and management change. The further development of research in this field will be tremendously valuable for the science and practice of public administration and public policy, in Europe and beyond – we are looking forward to the contribution that the Permanent Study Group on EU Administration and Multi-Level Governance will provide to the scholarly and practitioners community alike over the next years.


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