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The Bielefeld Project (1985)

Description: The Centre for Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Bielefeld hosted in 1981/82 a research group from eight countries and a range of disciplines, called "Guidance, Control, and Performance Evaluation in the Public Sector". The purpose was to "develop conceptual frameworks which help to understand the structured complexity of relationships within the public sector as a device to redefine situations for the actors concerned" (Kaufmann, 1986:3). Even if there was a strong German component, the ambition was to be interdisciplinary and international. A key message from the conclusions is that complexity needs to be taken into account, and that growing complexity needs growingly complex theories and solutions. After looking at trends and issues, but also shortcomings of current approaches, some of the problems, such as e.g. the 'state vs. society', or 'performance' and 'quango's' were redefined, and there was a special focus on 'co-ordination'. The conclusions were at the same time to specialise, to create a new division of labour but also to coordinate efforts.



Kaufmann, F. X. 1986. "Introduction History of the Project and Background of the Problem". pp. 3-24 in F. X. Kaufmann, G. Majone, V. Ostrom, ed., 1986. Guidance, Control and Evaluation in the Public Sector. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.