On the History of the Form of Administrative Decisions: How Decisions Begin to Desire Uncertainty

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In management and organization history, the concept of the decision has often been understood as an ahistorical phenomenon. The changing contexts, technologies, and subjects of decision-making have been thoroughly studied, but decision itself is rarely made an object of historical investigation. Addressing the question of how the very form of the decision changes in the course of history, this article studies the Danish public administration from the late nineteenth century to today. We argue that, over time, public administration reacts to self-produced complexity by developing higher and higher orders of decision-making resulting in a form of decision-making that deconstructs the very difference between decision premises and decision. We conclude that public administration has undergone a development where decision-making is increasingly used not to absorb uncertainty, but to create uncertainty in order to create new possibilities for public administration itself.
In management and organization history, the concept of the decision has often been understood as an ahistorical phenomenon. The changing contexts, technologies, and subjects of decision-making have been thoroughly studied, but decision itself is rarely made an object of historical investigation. Addressing the question of how the very form of the decision changes in the course of history, this article studies the Danish public administration from the late nineteenth century to today. We argue that, over time, public administration reacts to self-produced complexity by developing higher and higher orders of decision-making resulting in a form of decision-making that deconstructs the very difference between decision premises and decision. We conclude that public administration has undergone a development where decision-making is increasingly used not to absorb uncertainty, but to create uncertainty in order to create new possibilities for public administration itself.
LanguageEnglish
JournalManagement & Organizational History
Volume12
Issue number2
Pages119-141
ISSN1744-9359
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Published online: 16. May 2017

Keywords

  • Public administration
  • decision-making
  • Luhmann
  • Denmark
  • Temporality
  • Potentialization
  • Conceptual history

Cite this

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title = "On the History of the Form of Administrative Decisions: How Decisions Begin to Desire Uncertainty",
abstract = "In management and organization history, the concept of the decision has often been understood as an ahistorical phenomenon. The changing contexts, technologies, and subjects of decision-making have been thoroughly studied, but decision itself is rarely made an object of historical investigation. Addressing the question of how the very form of the decision changes in the course of history, this article studies the Danish public administration from the late nineteenth century to today. We argue that, over time, public administration reacts to self-produced complexity by developing higher and higher orders of decision-making resulting in a form of decision-making that deconstructs the very difference between decision premises and decision. We conclude that public administration has undergone a development where decision-making is increasingly used not to absorb uncertainty, but to create uncertainty in order to create new possibilities for public administration itself.",
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language = "English",
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pages = "119--141",
journal = "Management & Organizational History",
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On the History of the Form of Administrative Decisions : How Decisions Begin to Desire Uncertainty. / Åkerstrøm Andersen, Niels; Pors, Justine Grønbæk.

In: Management & Organizational History, Vol. 12, No. 2, 2017, p. 119-141.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

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PY - 2017

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AB - In management and organization history, the concept of the decision has often been understood as an ahistorical phenomenon. The changing contexts, technologies, and subjects of decision-making have been thoroughly studied, but decision itself is rarely made an object of historical investigation. Addressing the question of how the very form of the decision changes in the course of history, this article studies the Danish public administration from the late nineteenth century to today. We argue that, over time, public administration reacts to self-produced complexity by developing higher and higher orders of decision-making resulting in a form of decision-making that deconstructs the very difference between decision premises and decision. We conclude that public administration has undergone a development where decision-making is increasingly used not to absorb uncertainty, but to create uncertainty in order to create new possibilities for public administration itself.

KW - Public administration

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KW - Denmark

KW - Temporality

KW - Potentialization

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