The Autopoiesis of Administrative Systems: Niklas Luhmann on Public Administration and Public Policy
Title: The Autopoiesis of Administrative Systems: Niklas Luhmann on Public Administration and Public Policy
Citation: Public Administration, 1997, 75, 3, 417-439
This article offers an introduction to Niklas Luhmann's theory of social systems as it pertains to public administration and policy, as a first step towards both a critique and its empirical application to empirical reality. It reconstructs Luhmann's early writings on bureaucracy and policy-making and shows how this early, more empirical work grounded his abtract theory of social systems in general and the political system in particular. The article also introduces some central concepts of Luhmann's more recent work on the autopoietic nature of social systems and considers the latter's consequences for bureaucratic adaptiveness and governmental steering in the welfare state. One of the main benefits of applying Luhmann's theory to public administration, the article concludes, is that it conceptualizes the central concerns of public administration within a complex picture of society as a whole, in which both the agency that issues decisions and the realm affected by these decisions are included.
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