Research Group on Public Administration, Public Policy

Research in this working group analyzes different aspects of administration in multi-level systems. In particular we focus on three overlapping topics:

With research topic 1 "Intergovernmental Relations", we analyze processes of information, coordination and negotiation between governments and administrations of federal units, e.g. between the federal government and the 'Länder' in Germany or between the Commission and Member States in the EU. Research is driven by the question how – in spite of differing interests of negotiation partners – consensual solutions can be found. The Senior Civil Service plays an important role in this process, as it coordinates negotiations and mediates conflicts. Conflict lines go along party ideologies or economic cleavages; in multinational states, ethnic, linguistic or religious conflicts overlap those complex negotiations. The empirical investigation how coordination is achieved within administrations, between departments or between federal units forms the core of this research topic.

With research topic 2 "Federal Finances", we analyze the distribution of fiscal competences and fiscal flows between levels of government. The research interest is focused on questions how tasks, revenues and expenses are distributed among federal units and how this impacts on the public procurement of goods and services. On the one hand, we investigate the relationship between the federal level and the 'Länder', on the other hand between the 'Länder' and their municipalities. Increasingly, fiscal entanglement with the EU level gains relevance. Based on those analyses, proposals are developed how to improve tax systems, fiscal constitutions and public service provision.

With research topic 3 "Public Service Personnel", we investigate how the legal, structural or political situation influences the working of the public sector. For the persons working in the public service are crucial for quality and direction of public goods and services. In smaller and former projects, we investigated among others attitudes of public service personnel – Public Service Motivation, ethical behavior or politicization. In a current project, we focus on biographies and career patterns of senior civil servants. Who are the men and women doing politics from the 'second row'? Can we discern typical career paths? And if so, how does this impact on their action orientation?

All three research topics are linked to each other by specific questions and issues. For example, personal networks of Senior Civil Servants (topic 3) are a relevant explanatory factor for coordination relations between federal units (topic 1). Or the question how compromises are elaborated in federal negotiations (topic 1) impacts on reform options for federal fiscal relations (topic 2).


Öffentliche Verwaltung, Public Policy
Institut für Politikwissenschaft
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Landwehrstraße 48a-50a
64293 Darmstadt


Prof. Dr. Nathalie Behnke
Tel: +49 (0)6151/16-57352
Raum: S4|23/204


Petra Fuhrmann
Tel: +49 (0)6151/16-57343
Raum: S4|22/208

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