New publication about Information Processing in Public Organizations

Eva Ruffing and I have published an article in a volume titled „The Blind Spots of Public Bureaucracy and the Politics of Non-Coordination“, edited by Tobias Bach and Kai Wegrich. The title of the article is „Why Do Bureaucrats Consider Public Consultation Statements (or Not)? Information Processing in Public Organizations“

Our argument is that public participation in administrative decision-making is becoming increasingly common in democracies. However, we discuss a comprehensive public participation procedure recently introduced in Germany, and demonstrate that public participation has almost no effect on bureaucratic decision-making. Building on exchange theory and reputation theory, we argue that public organisations include only the consultation statements (with the pieces of information) that they need for their organisational survival into their decisions. This attention-directing logic allows public organisations to act on consultation statements. Without internal heuristics that structure the processing of consultation statements, public organisations would be paralysed by the number and ambiguity of statements. On the downside, this attention-directing logic creates blind spots in the information processing of public organisations. Thus, selective perception is simultaneously necessary to ensure that organisations can process information and function at all, and dangerous as it may preclude the processing of new and vital information

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Macron auf der Brücke, ich im Maschinenraum

Das Göttinger Tagblatt hat einen kurzen Artikel zu den „Europäischen Universitäten“ veröffentlicht, wie sie Emmanuel Macron vorgeschlagen hat. Die Universität Göttingen nimmt mit U4 schon an diesem Prozess teil, und weil ich mit Euroculture in einem stark europäisierten Studiengang arbeite, werde ich mit ein paar Kommentaren dazu zitiert. Hätte ich besser an Max Weber gedacht, hätte ich wohl gesagt: „Die Europäisierung der Universitäten ist das langsame Bohren harter Bretter mit Augenmaß und Leidenschaft.“ So sage ich halt wesentlich weniger elegant, es sei ein „sehr langsamer Prozess der Anpassung“.

Drawing maps of Germany with stata spmap – what about Bremen and Berlin?

Recently, I tried to visualize some data on German Bundesländer with the excellent spmap module. I had already done similar stuff with Turkish electoral districts, so I was confident that it would work with Germany. However, something was going wrong: The city-states Bremen and Berlin were drowned in the color of the state they are in (Niedersachsen and Brandenburg).

Simple example:

Germany shapefile from here, convert it to stata format following the instructions here. For the sake of the argument, generate a variable containing the length of the Bundesland name and visualize this variable:

generate test = length(NAME_1)

spmap test using germany_coordinates, id(id) fcolor(Blues)

falsche

Now, Bremen is a shorter name than Niedersachsen, and Berlin is shorter than Brandenburg, so both should be in a lighter color. But the polygon of Brandenburg overwrites the polygon of Berlin. Funny enough (and this puzzled me), this happens only if the color of the larger polygon is darker than the smaller polygon. If Berlin had a higher value than Brandenburg, everything is fine. That is why it took me a while to realize the mistake at all, because at first I generated some nice maps in which Bremen and Berlin have higher values than Niedersachsen and Brandenburg, and everything looked totally fine.

Solution: The coordinates file can contain a variable (that you have to add!) called _EMBEDDED in which you specify that a polygon is embedded in another polygon. So mark Bremen and Berlin as _EMBEDDED, and all is fine.

Stelle an meiner Professur zu vergeben

Ich suche für die Professur für das politische System der BRD ab dem 1.4.2018 eine Mitarbeiterin oder einen Mitarbeiter. Alles Nähere findet sich in der Stellenausschreibung.

Ich freue mich über jede Bewerbung. Mein Forschungs- und Lehrprofil ist auf dieser Website beschrieben. Wenn Sie Fragen zu den Stellen haben, erreichen Sie mich unter simon.fink(at)sowi.uni-goettingen.de

 

If you want me to supervise your thesis

If you want me to be your thesis supervisor, here are some points to take into consideration:

  • I mainly supervise empirical theses. That is, I want you to find out something new by doing empirical work. That does not mean that you have to reinvent the wheel. But I want you to do original research. I do not want you to simply remix the literature.
  • The focal point of a good thesis is a hypothesis (or several hypotheses) that is derived from the theoretical literature. This hypothesis is pivotal for your thesis. The hypothesis should be derived logically from the theory. The research design, in turn, should be guided by the hypothesis and serve to test the hypothesis. And your analysis then uses the proposed research design to test the hypothesis. That´s as easy as it gets.
  • That is, if you approach me with a proposal for a thesis topic, you not only have a research question, but ideally, you also have a hypothesis that you want to test. And even more ideally, you also have an idea for a research design to test your hypothesis.
  • The job of the thesis is not to corroborate the hypothesis. Better disconfirm a hypothesis with a well crafted research design than shoddily corroborate a hypothesis.
  • Topics: My main expertise is to supervise topics that touch upon the political system of Germany, the political system of the EU and/or public policy. Here is a list of theses that I have supervised, and here is a list of my current research topics. I especially like to supervise topics that can be subsumed under these research areas.
  • Methods: I am very fond of projects that use quantitative methods and can give advice on how to approach a quantitative project. But I´m open minded with regard to methods, if you have a proposal for a good case study, I can also supervise your project.

Article about Europeanization of participation regimes

I have co-authored an article together with Eva Ruffing about the German participation rules in electricity grid expansion. Germany has overfulfilled the European requirements by a huge margin, and in our article The Differentiated Implementation of European Participation Rules in Energy Infrastructure Planning. Why Does the German Participation Regime Exceed European Requirements?, we explain this puzzle.

Abstract:

The building of electricity grids is a major challenge of infrastructure planning. According to Directive 2009/72/EU, “ten-year network development plans” outline which grids are to be built. Regulatory agencies have to consult “actual or potential system users” on these plans. However, Germany exceeds these requirements and conducts three rounds of full-fledged public participation. Using rational choice and sociological institutionalism, this article argues that the over-implementation of Directive 2009/72/EU is due to two causes: First, the old German corporatist system of grid planning was dysfunctional. Second, there was a major discourse on public participation following the contentious railway project “Stuttgart 21.” The domestic implementation of Directive 2009/72/EU then opened a window of opportunity for advocates of public participation to implement their preferences. A comparison with France corroborates the argument that both conditions must be fulfilled to cause a major reform.