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Public Administration Theory

Studying the government and organisation of society

Departing from key concepts such as power, democracy, government and ethics, the members of this research group studies a range of different political processes, mainly in a Swedish context but also with an international outlook.

This group brings together researchers in political science and law, based in Lund, Malmö, Göteborg and Växjö. Past and present research projects deal with overarching themes such as marketisation, depoliticisation, juridification, projectification, Europeanisation and bureaucratisation - focusing on, amongst other things, New Public Management, health care reform, expert rule, climate politics, social investment funds, the European social fund, self-driving cars and artificial intelligence.

Public administration takes place at all political levels - international, national, regional and local, in democracies as well as authoritarian regimes. Also, issues of government and organisation cannot be limited to the public sector but are also relevant in private companies and civil society. Therefore, we are open to new members from a wide range of research fields and disciplines to take part in our activities.

Mats Fred
E-post: mats [dot] fred [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se


Autumn 2022

September 5 at 09.00-11.00

Title: Fools are everywhere: The role of the court jester in the 21st century

This time, Daniel Pargman, an associate professor in media technology at KTH Stockholm, visit us to talk about his research.

Abstract: We all know that in the early 21st century, all professions have been taken hostage by the four horsemen of the administrapocalypse: New Public Management, bureaucracy, internal audits, external evaluations and funny-mirror batshit crazy email requests to fill out surveys from people who have professional functions that shouldn’t even exist in the first place (Graeber 2018, "Bullshit jobs"). But what can we academics do besides writing snide opinion pieces, articles and books (Alvesson, Paulsson, Bornemark etc.), formulating elegant definitions of admin sufficiency (”as much admin as necessary, but as little admin as possible”) or by obliquely speaking truth to power by including clever formulations in our docent applications ("I lean towards believing that KTH and Swedish higher education currently is over-regulated and over-administered […] It sometimes seems like we have perfected our processes at KTH to such a degree that they become nearly unworkable”)? 

Prof. Dr. Pargman’s will take as a starting point that humor ”enables members to deal with the ambiguous, uncertain, and political character of organizations as well as the tensions that arise from their engagement in alienating organizational systems” (McMaster et al. 2005, ”Fooling around") and that a 21st century version of the medieval court jester could be a way to destabilize and ”unfreeze” the status quo of the old institutional order, since the jester uses ”humor, satire and absurdity to perform a systematic challenging of organizational Doxa, the taken-for-granted, unquestioned truths underpinning the functioning of an organization” (Clegg et al. 2021).

Suggested reading: Clegg, S., Cunha, M. P. E., Rego, A., & Berti, M. (2021). Speaking truth to power: The academic as jester stimulating management learning. Management Learning, 13505076211038080.

Location: Large Conference Room, Eden (Ed 367)

Notice of interest: mats [dot] fred [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se

September 30 at 10:00-12:00

Title: Challenges and perspectives of projectification for societal innovation in a fragmented and chaotic world

This time the Public Administration Theory Research Group have a very special guest from the École Polytechnique in Paris – Christophe Midler – visiting us!

Christophe Midler is the person responsible for coining (and initially defining) the term projectification in an article entitled Projectificaiton of the firm: the Renault case, and he is visiting us as part of a continues collaborative endeavor between European scholars interested in temporary and experimental forms of organization and organizing.

Midler will give a brief (30-40 min) lecture followed by an interactive discussion among participants. For short introduction of the talk, see below!

Challenges and perspectives of projectification for societal innovation in a fragmented and chaotic world

Christophe Midler

At the seminar, I  will focus on three characterizations of the current context of contemporary innovation strategies:

  1. corporate innovations are what I will call more and more "societal", inducing the intrusion of political and administrative powers in the management of projects;
  2. one of the consequences is that the globalization of the management of international companies is deeply affected. The world is no longer a "flat" market as some dreamed in the 2000s. It is a deeply fragmented world where innovation must be precisely adapted locally in its processes as it products to have a chance to succeed. How can be associate this localization with the global innovation deployment, a key capability for large companies to assert their competitive advantage?
  3. Finally, the world is chaotic. Because it is no longer driven by a few dominant players who are able to impose their perspectives and plans not only on others, but also - and above all - on nature, which generates crises that thwart the plans of the wisest strategists.

What are the consequences of these characteristics of the contemporary context on projects, and, in return, what roles can projects play in taking them into account?

As I like to base my reasoning on empirical research, I will use here a study that I have just finished on a development of an electric car in China, a development led by the French manufacturer Renault, the same one that I had studied in 1995 in my Scandinavian Management Review article on projectification.

Back to the future…

See calendar event: Challenges and perspectives of projectification for societal innovation in a fragmented and chaotic world | Department of Political Science (

Spring 2022

January 19, at 09.00-11.00 (Zoom)
Innovation Resistance. Moving beyond dominant framings
Helena Fornstedt from Uppsala University
Notice of interest: Mats Fred (mats [dot] fred [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se)

April 26, at 14.00-16.00

Seminar with Eva Edström Fors ’Relationen mellan stat och kommun och riktade statsbidrag’ 

Plats: St Algatan hörsal (auditorium): Stora Algatan 4, Lund

Register participation to: mats [dot] fred [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se

May 5, at 12.15-13.15
Place: We will meet in the Large conference room at Eden (Lund University). There will be a possibility to join-in via zoom.

We have a joint session with the Development studies group related to the theme Projectification (the increasing reliance on projects and other temporary modes of organizing). This will be a seminar based on the readings of two-three articles that thigh issues related to development studies together with issues related to public administration.

May 23, at 14.00-16.00

Kommunalt handlingsutrymme i digitaliserad socialtjänst: Fallet automatiserat beslutsfattande | Svetnet

Detta KEFU-seminarium handlar om hur automatiserat beslutsfattande påverkar kommunala aktörers handlingsutrymme, med avstamp i exemplet socialtjänst och socialt arbete. Seminariet ingår i KEFU:s seminarieserie ”den kommunala demokratin i förändring”.  

Medverkande: Lupita Svensson (Fil. Dr) är forskare i social arbete vid Lunds universitet och har sedan 2015 forskat om socialtjänst och digitalisering i flera forskningsprojekt, ofta i nära samarbete med fältet.

Plats: St Algatan hörsal (auditorium): Stora Algatan 4, Lund

Anmälan till: mats [dot] fred [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se