TED1: Tallinn

Towards the Neo-Weberian State? Europe and Beyond

30-31 January 2008
Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia

Dear Colleagues,

For the first time, the two key professional associations of Public Administration in Europe, the European Group on Public Administration
(EGPA) an the Network of Institutes and Schools of Public Administration in Central and Eastern Europe (NISPAcee), will hold a common conference to start a Trans-European Dialogue (TED), following the very successful Trans-Atlantic Dialogue that EGPA has organized with ASPA, the American Society of Public Administration.

The format of the Trans-European Dialogue, however, will be somewhat
different: It will be that of a high-level, focused conference on a timely topic in Public Administration that will profit from bringing together senior experts from the different regions, thereby facilitating interchange and discussion across Europe and even including Central Asia and the Caucasus, which also belongs to NISPAcee’s area.

For the inauguration of TED, EGPA and NISPAcee have decided to choose as topic what is perhaps the most important and interesting issue in Public Administration theory right now, the one concerning the overall current paradigm, and possible paradigm shift, in Europe and beyond. In recent years, a vigorous academic debate has commenced concerning how to characterize what is happening after the decline of the New Public Management as the central model to explain changes and goal of public management reform. Various concepts have emerged, including the Neo-Weberian State (NWS), post-NPM, post-post-NPM, and post-bureaucratic systems. Writers on e-government have also begun to try to relate the developments they are seeing to these models.  Meanwhile, others maintain that in certain continental countries, not much has actually changed – that the key characteristics are still those of a Napoleonic system, or a Rechtsstaat.  Parallel with this model-building, there has been a vigorous discussion about the influence of the European Union and whether we are seeing the development of a ‘European Administrative Space’.  Each of these concepts has three crucial dimensions – theoretical, empirical and normative.

The Dialogue, which will include leading experts in this literature, will aim to clarify and elaborate these trends and concepts for the first time in a comprehensive manner, along all three dimensions.  What is happening in Europe (and beyond) – NWS or something else?

The conference is a by-invitation meeting of experts.  As the organizers, and in the name of NISPAcee and EGPA, we would like to cordially invite you to participate in this event.

Before the conference, all participants will be asked to send the organizers a very short set of propositions about the topic.  Each person should offer between one and three propositions (e.g. ‘Proposition 1:
Despite surface change, the Napoleonic system largely survives in Spain and Italy’; ‘Proposition 2:  the Nordic group of countries has moved towards an NWS model with a particular emphasis on decentralization and citizen participation’). These propositions will be collected and circulated at the beginning of the conference. A limited number of participants will also be asked to prepare presentations, backed by short (not more than 5 pp.) papers.  Theses presentations will launch most of the sessions, but the main purpose of the TED is to stimulate discussion, so session organizers will ensure that maximal time is given to debate. We plan to publish the proceedings of the conference in an appropriate format, but the focus is really on discussion.

TED 1 is sponsored and organized, for and jointly with EGPA and NISPAcee, by Tallinn University of Technology’s (TUT) Public Administration department – the only institution which has faculty members on both Steering Committees – and co-sponsored by the State Chancellery of Estonia. While there is no participation fee and all meals, receptions, and transport during the conference are funded by TUT, participants will be expected to find their own travel and accommodation costs.  A block of rooms has been pre-reserved, at a reduced rate, at the Radisson SAS Hotel in downtown Tallinn, but they have to be booked individually. The hotel is a 15-minute cab ride from Tallinn airport, which is easy to reach from all across the world.  Tallinn in January is cold, but usually very bright and crisp, presenting an ideal working environment for a conference.

The conference will begin with a dinner hosted by TUT on the evening of Wednesday, 30 January 2008.  On Thursday, 31 January, we will have an all-day conference in the Great Council Room of TUT.  In the evening, there will be a reception by the Secretary of State in the Stenbock House, the seat of the Government of the Republic of Estonia on Cathedral Hill.

As you know, on the day following the conference, Friday, 1 February 2008, there will be a regular meeting of the EGPA Steering Committee, followed in the afternoon by a joint session with the NISPAcee Steering Committee.
The TED1 conference is part of this venue, and EGPA will fund your travel as well as accommodation from 30 January to 2 February, which will be booked directly.

We very much hope that you will able to join us for this exciting event.
However, if you cannot or do not wish to attend, please notify us quickly, but not later than by the end of July, so that your place can be offered to someone else – due to the nature of the event and to facilitate genuine discussion, spaces are very limited.  Please send your reply as soon as possible to the conference manager, Mrs. Külli Sarapuu, at kylli.sarapuu@staff.ttu.ee, who will also be able to answer any question you might have regarding the conference logistics.  For questions of contents, please turn to the organizers.

Hoping to see you in Tallinn,

Geert Bouckaert
Catholic University of Leuven
EGPA President

Wolfgang Drechsler
Tallinn University of Technology
NISPAcee Steering Committee

Christopher Pollitt
Catholic University of Leuven