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WIPCAD Opening Conference: Insights and Projects on Wicked Problems and Contested Administrations

On Friday, November 23rd 2012 the first conference of the DFG-research training group WIPCAD opened with over 80 participants at the University of Potsdam. Following an ambitious one-day program guest speakers, international scholars, the WIPCAD research fellows, doctoral fellows and post-doc researcher as well as students and professionals from a diverse body of institutions were concerned with the question how pressing complex policy problems affect issues of knowledge, coordination and strategy of public organizations.

The audience was welcomed on behalf of Prof. Dr. Ria de Bleser, Vice President for International Affairs at the University of Potsdam as well as by Prof. Dr. Theresa Wobbe, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences. Finally the research training group’s speaker Prof. Dr. Klaus H. Goetz introduced WIPCAD to the conference members.

Two inspiring keynote speeches were then delivered by Prof. Dr. Paul t’Hart (Australian University and Utrecht University) who spoke about “Coping with the Most Wicked Problems in all the Land: Challenges of Crisis Governance” and Prof. Dr. Martin Lodge (London School of Economics and Political Science) who dealt with “Problem-Solving Capacity and the State”.

After the lunch break the training group’s nine Post Doctoral and Doctoral Researchers presented themselves and their research projects to an interested audience followed by a fruitful discussion of the individual proposals.  Anne K. Krüger, WIPCAD Post Doctoral Researcher, introduced her research topic “Innovation as Institutional Change. The social production, (e)valuation and integration of new knowledge”. Likewise the eight doctoral fellows briefly introduced their research outlines on “Governing Sustainable Consumption” (Kajsa Borgnäs), “Organization of Wicked Problems” (Thomas Danken), “Innovation through Design: Design Thinking and Practices in Public Sector Reform” (Katrin Dribbisch), “Reforms of Tax Administrations. Reactions of National Tax Administrations to Complex Revenue Challenges in the 21st Century” (Robert Gäde), “International Public Administrations as Orchestrators of Local Sustainability and Climate Protection Standards” (Kai Harbrich), “The Role of Portfolio Allocation in the Green Energy Transition in the German Länder” (Stefanie Korte), “The Administration of Intelligence in International Post-Conflict Management” (Anne Lange) and “Environmental Governance of European Seas: Disruptive Institutions or Effective Problem Solving?” (Bertolt Wenzel).

During the third conference session five internationally renowned panelists discussed “The Study of Administration – New Trends, Emerging Prospects” and were then joined by the committed conference public. On the panel spoke Prof. Dr. Isabella Proeller (University of Potsdam), Prof. Dr. Nils Brunsson (SCORE, Stockholm and Uppsala University), Prof. Dr. Anne Lise Fimreite (University of Bergen, Norway), Prof. Dr. Theo Toonen (Delft University of Technology and Leiden University) as well as Prof. Dr. Werner Jann (University of Potsdam).

Afterwards Prof. Helen Margetts, PhD (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford) gave an insightful talk on Internet and Public Administration Research targeting “Researching Government with Big Data and Experiments”. This fourth and last session was concluded by a promising outlook on behalf of the DFG research training group’s speaker Prof. Dr. Klaus H. Goetz.

Lena Schulze-Gabrechten