Johan P. Olsen

Johan P. Olsen
University of Oslo · ARENA Centre for European Studies

Dr. philos (dr. hon (multiple)

About

131
Publications
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25,873
Citations
Citations since 2016
24 Research Items
8529 Citations
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201620172018201920202021202202004006008001,0001,200
201620172018201920202021202202004006008001,0001,200

Publications

Publications (131)
Article
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Utgangspunktet for artikkelen er de utfordringer europeiske representative demokratier, og spesielt sentraladministrasjonen, står overfor. Diskusjoner om forvaltningens demokratiske kvalitet kan foregå innenfor en stabil politisk orden, hvor hver institusjon har et klart avgrenset samfunnsoppdrag og ansvarsområde, entydige suksesskriterier, veldefi...
Article
This article is about democratic accountability and a Europe struggling to find viable answers to the questions of who and what shall constitute “Europe” and how to develop legitimate political institutions for governing it. The article is, nevertheless, first and foremost about political order and change, rules for living together, the role of dem...
Article
This paper explores the shifting significance of accountability processes and why they sometimes attract considerable public attention and citizens’ involvement, whereas at other times they escape public notice. Accountability processes are conceived of as order-maintaining or order-transforming processes and I interpret the recent obsession with d...
Article
Accountability is a principle for organizing relations between rulers and ruled, and making public officials accountable is a democratic achievement. There are, however, competing claims about what is involved in demanding, rendering, assessing, and responding to accounts; what are effective accountability institutions; and how accountability regim...
Article
This article offers an institutional approach to accountability in representative democracies. Theorising accountability comprises both settled polities with well-entrenched institutions and unsettled polities with weak or contested institutions, and it is argued that agency theory and formal principal–agent models giving priority to compliance and...
Article
The main task of scholars is to help good ideas forged by their predecessors find a new life in the imaginations of their successors. In this essay, we consider some aspects of this process from our experience with garbage can ideas of organizational decision making. We record our memories of initial encounters with them, impressions of their curre...
Article
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ARENA, Universitetet i Oslo Mange faktorer peker i retning av at statsvitenskapen fortsatt vil gå ulike steder gjennom mange og ikke nødvendigvis koordinerte prosesser. Faget vil i morgen neppe vaere vesensforskjellig fra i dag. Endringer i studieobjektet inviterer likevel til forskning som kan skape bedre helhetsforståelse og ha faglig integrerend...
Article
We examine the political history of twelve twentieth-century efforts at comprehensive administrative reorganization in the United States. These efforts account for only a small fraction of administrative changes and do not seem to have had a major impact on administrative costs, efficiency, or control. They have been a source of frustration for pre...
Chapter
The main task of scholars is to help good ideas forged by their predecessors find a new life in the imaginations of their successors. In this essay, we consider some aspects of this process from our experience with garbage can ideas of organizational decision making. We record our memories of initial encounters with them, impressions of their curre...
Chapter
The main task of scholars is to help good ideas forged by their predecessors find a new life in the imaginations of their successors. In this essay, we consider some aspects of this process from our experience with garbage can ideas of organizational decision making. We record our memories of initial encounters with them, impressions of their curre...
Article
This book is about political organization and organizing. It is about the role of formally organized political institutions in contemporary democracies and the democratic-instrumental vision that citizens and their representatives might and ought to decide how they shall be organized and governed. The main argument is that to the extent that the fu...
Article
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Against the backdrop of decades of public sector reforms in Europe, this essay aims to make sense of the processes through which institutions, democratic government included, achieve and lose autonomy or primacy and why it is difficult to find a state of equilibrium between democratic government and institutional autonomy. The analytical value of ‘...
Article
Full-text available
As teorias políticas contemporâneas tendem a retratar a política como um reflexo da sociedade; os fenômenos políticos como as conseqüências agregadas do comportamento individual; a ação como o resultado de escolhas baseadas no interesse pessoal calculado; a história como sendo eficiente no alcance de desfechos singulares e adequados e a tomada de d...
Article
Contemporary theories of politics tend to portray politics as a reflection of society, political phenomena as the aggregate consequences of individual behavior, action as the result of choices based on calculated self-interest, history as efficient in reaching unique and appropriate outcomes, and decision making and the allocation of resources as t...
Article
How can students of the European Union get from describing recent advances, to speculating about what are possible new directions and research agendas? How promising are terms such as “governance” and “the new governance” for improving the understanding how the Union is overned and whether, and to what degree, there is a transformation in its syste...
Article
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While it is commonplace to argue that political institutions are a source of inertia and resistance to change and that the New Institutionalism is unable to explain change, this paper takes the opposite view. First, the problem of change is reformulated and it is observed that institutions have a role in generating both order and change and in bala...
Article
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Over the last three decades many public sector reforms have aimed at giving administrative agencies and non-majoritarian institutions more autonomy from majority-based institutions and common sets of rules. The detachment-from-politics trend has implications for the public sector’s core principles of organization and governance and for the role of...
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Is the European Research University going to be a historical parenthesis? The question has been raised, yet there is no agreed-upon answer, and this article aims at providing a framework for making sense of the current dynamics of the University. The key issue is: What kind of university and what kind of academics for what kind of society? Using an...
Chapter
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The subject of this paper is the institutional dynamics of the European University. How is this key institution affected by ongoing processes of European integration? What attempts are undertaken at the European level to build up institutional capacity in the areas of higher education and research policy? How do these emerging European capacities r...
Book
The European University is under stress. It has become commonplace to argue that radical reforms are needed. The claim is that while environments are changing rapidly, European universities do not learn, adapt and reform themselves fast enough. Reform plans comprise the purposes of universities, i.e. definitions of what the University is, can be an...
Article
Full-text available
The European University, as a key institution, is under stress. It has become commonplace to argue that urgent and radical reforms are needed. The claim is that while environments are changing rapidly, universities do not learn, adapt and reform themselves fast enough. Reform plans comprise the purposes of universities, i.e. definitions of what the...
Article
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This paper sketches an organization theory-based approach to the study of public administrative behavior, institutions and developments in the context of democratic governance. The approach is here called the ‘Bergen approach’ because it originated as part of developing a department of public administration and organization theory at the University...
Article
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Why do democracies give birth to bureaucracies and bureaucrats? How and why has a seemingly undesirable and unviable organizational form weathered relentless criticism over many years and is possibly experiencing a renaissance? Normative democratic theory, theories of formal organizations, and Weber’s ideas are used for exploring de-bureaucratizati...
Article
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This section (1) presents three landmark articles that are part of a research agenda launched more than twenty years ago. Then, “The New Institutionalism: Organizational Factors in Political Life” invited a reappraisal of how political institutions could be conceptualized, to what degree institutions have independent and endurable implications, the...
Article
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This article has been published in Tidsskrift for samfunnsforning Vol. 47, No.2, pp. 259-274
Article
Classical theories of omniscient rationality in organizational decision-making have largely been replaced by a view of limited rationality, but no similar concern has been reflected in the analysis of organizational learning. There has been a tendency to model a simple complete cycle of learning from unambiguous experience and to ignore cognitive a...
Article
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The University is currently involved in changes that might affect its institutional identity. At stake are the University’s purpose, organization and governance system, financial basis, work processes, and role in society. This paper proposes a perspective for understanding these transformations. The aim is to contribute to an improved comprehensio...
Article
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Abstract This paper argues that contemporary ,European ,developments ,provide ,a window ofopportunity,for learning ,about ,how ,political community ,and ,authority ,is possible in spite ,of enduring ,diversity. The paper explores ,sources ,of political unity and how ,institutions mediate ,between diversity and unity. The theoretical discussion is t...
Article
Contemporary reform programs give students of comparative public administration a new chance to update their theoretical ideas about organization and organizing. Do forms of government and political institution matter? If so, what are the effects of different organizational forms? Why do we have the institutional forms we have? How can we explain t...
Article
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The history of international political orders is written in terms of continuity and change in domestic and international political relations. As a step toward understanding such continuity and change, we explore some ideas drawn from an institutional perspective. An institutional perspective is characterized in terms of two grand issues that divide...
Article
Durante medio siglo, Europa ha estado involucrada en un experimento a gran escala de gobierno y organización política. El experimento aún continúa y el resultado es incierto. En particular, ¿puede este experimento ayudar a entender mejor cuáles factores ejercen su influencia en el aumento y descenso de los esfuerzos voluntarios de cooperación entre...
Article
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This article questions the fashionable ideas that bureaucratic organization is an obsolescent, undesirable, and non-viable form of administration and that there is an inevitable and irreversible paradigmatic shift towards market- or network-organization. In contrast, the paper argues that contemporary democracies are involved in another round in a...
Article
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To sketch an institutional approach, this paper elaborates ideas presented over 20 years ago in The New Institutionalism: Organizational Factors in Political Life (March and Olsen 1984). Institutionalism, as that term is used here, connotes a general approach to the study of political institutions, a set of theoretical ideas and hypotheses concerni...
Article
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The aim of this essay is to contribute to an improved comprehension of the university’s dynamics of change, as part of a larger transformation of the relationships between society’s key institutions. A distinction is made between seeing the University as an institution and as an instrument, and four visions of university organization are outlined....
Article
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B�de i Norge, i mange andre land, i den Europeiske Union og fra internasjonale organisasjoner som OECD, er det gitt uttrykk for et stort behov for mer innovasjon og en helhetlig innovasjonspolitikk. Dette notatet, som slutter seg til forestillingen om at det er behov for en bedre forst�else av betingelsene for endring og fornyelse, er et supplement...
Article
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The logic of appropriateness is a perspective that sees human action as driven by rules of appropriate or exemplary behavior, organized into institutions. Rules are followed because they are seen as natural, rightful, expected, and legitimate. Actors seek to fulfill the obligations encapsulated in a role, an identity, a membership in a political co...
Article
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How to reconcile political unity and diversity is a key issue in both democratic practice and theory. Coping with this dilemma activates some basic questions about how we understand political actors, institutions and change. This paper suggests that the evolving European polity is an exciting site for exploring this issue. In particular, can the Eu...
Article
The theme of this paper is the dynamics through which political order and organized government is constituted and reconstituted in democratic contexts. Key questions are how basic political rules evolve and change and the possible significance of reflection, deliberate design and explicit constitutional policy. In democracies a focus on reflection...
Article
This article presents a way of thinking about the legitimate role of citizens in European governance. It discusses factors that may enable or constrain political participation. The starting point is that the role of Euro-citizens depends on how the Union's future political order is envisioned. The more the Union is moving away from a special purpos...
Article
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Many students of public administration have claimed, as rationale for the field, that the Prince, the President, the Legislator or the Ruling Class needs help. In contrast, John Gaus argued that it is the citizens who need help. From the latter perspective, the questions become, under what conditions is it likely that administration will provide he...
Article
This paper pursues two objectives, one theoretical the other empirical. First, by keeping separate two grand strands in the EU studies literature, one on the design and reform of EU institutions and the other on the EU’s ‘democratic deficit’, EU scholars are foreclosing the opportunity to address a hitherto unanswered question: When and under what...
Article
Im Dezember 2004 hat der Europ�ische Rat einstimmig beschlossen, Beitrittsverhandlungen mit der T�rkei aufzunehmen. Auch wenn erst nach einem erfolgreichen Abschluss �ber eine endg�ltige Mitgliedschaft entschieden wird, d�rfte nach dieser kaum noch zu revidierenden Zusage an die t�rkische Regierung einem EU-Beitritt fr�her oder sp�ter nichts mehr i...
Article
Full-text available
This article presents a way of thinking about the legitimate role of citizens in European governance. It discusses factors that may enable or constrain political participation. The starting point is that the role of Euro-citizens depends on how the Union's future political order is envisioned. The more the Union is moving away from a special purpos...
Article
A development towards a ‘European Administrative Space’ (EAS), understood as convergence on a common European model, can be seen as a normative program, an accomplished fact, or a hypothesis. Here, focus is on the hypothesis and the search for analytical models with explanatory power. The approach raises several questions: What is ‘convergence’ and...
Article
Full-text available
Bendor, Moe, and Shotts want to rescue some of the ideas of the garbage can model and the new institutionalism. Their rescue program, however, is alien to the spirit of not only our work but also some recent developments that may promise a climate of dialogue between different approaches in political science. Bendor, Moe, and Shotts place themselve...
Chapter
For half a century, Europeans have (again) explored the possibility of new forms of political order and unity. This time change in western Europe has been non-violent and there have been comprehensive and possibly lasting changes in the (west) European institutions of governance. Still, students of European political integration face a partial and...
Article
William T. Gormley, Jr. and David L. Weimer, Organizational Report Cards, Harvard University Press, 1999, pp. xi, 272. Price £24.95 (cloth). ISBN: 0–674–64305–X. - - Volume 19 Issue 3 - Johan P. Olsen
Chapter
In the mid-1980s there was a surprising revitalization of Western European cooperation. The Single European Act and the (Maastricht) Treaty on European Union were seen by many as representing a new stage in European integration. In addition, the collapse of Communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe stimulated belief in the possibility of a ma...
Article
This article examines some basic assumptions about the nature of political institutions, the ways in which practices and rules that comprise institutions are established, sustained, and transformed, and the ways in which those practices and rules are converted into political behavior through the mediation of interpretation and capability. We discus...
Article
MarksGary, ScharpfFritz W., SchmitterPhilippe C. and StreeckWolfgang, Governance in the European Union. London, Thousand Oaks, CA. New Dehli: Sage, 1996, x and 182. £12.95 (paperback). - Volume 16 Issue 2 - Johan P. Olsen

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Projects (2)
Project
My current research under the projects EuroDiv (http://www.sv.uio.no/arena/english/research/projects/eurodiv/index.html), GLOBUS (http://www.sv.uio.no/arena/english/research/projects/globus/index.html) and REFLEX (http://www.sv.uio.no/arena/english/research/projects/reflex/) analyses the role of digital news and social media in filtering and shaping public perceptions about the EU but also in facilitating democratic accountability and citizens' mobilization, particularly in times of crisis. In empirical terms my work focuses on the Euro/Greece crisis, the rise of 'digital populism' and the role of social media in the on-going refugee crisis in the EU.
Project
This is a book Project, likely to be published by Oxford University Press