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Reorganizing the Modern State in Comparative Perspective: Specialization and Integration in Norway and France

Abstract : Administrative systems have historically always been confronted with issues of integration and coordination on the one hand and autonomy and fragmentation on the other hand. The main topic of this paper is the challenge Norway and France face in coordinating specialized government activities after ten years of comprehensive reforms. We will consider the transformation of the French and Norwegian administrative architecture brought about by the reforms since the early 2000s and the choices the two countries have made with respect to multi-level governance. The focus is on the tension between territorial and sectoral specialization and between vertical and horizontal specialization as well as on how coordination has been reintroduced by hierarchy and other means. We describe both sector-specific administrative reforms and more overarching general administrative reforms, looking at similarities and differences in the reorganization choices made by the two countries and also at what drives change. We argue that a combination of factors are required to explain outcomes rather than eitheror explanations These factors include not only home-grown reforms, but also sectoral challenges, diffusion and learning from abroad, adaptation to the financial crisis and budget deficit and the free choices made by powerful political executives. Sometimes these factors work together and reinforce each other, producing radical reforms; at other times they have a mutually constraining influence, resulting in only minor changes. Empirical reality in various countries thus offers a marked contrast to all-encompassing ideas like "generic" public management, "global recipes" and simple models of administrative reforms.
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Philippe Bezes, Anne Lise Fimreite, Per Laegreid, Patrick Le Lidec. Reorganizing the Modern State in Comparative Perspective: Specialization and Integration in Norway and France. 2010. ⟨hal-02180065⟩

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