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Neo-Systemic Theories and Public Administration: Observational and Regulatory Possibilities

Josep Pont Vidal

The use of neo-systemic theories and the theory of self-referential systems in the observation and analysis of public administration is still scarce. With few exceptions, the empirical use of the self-referential systems theory is rejected for various reasons, including its high degree of abstraction, its theoretical-conceptual ignorance, and its complex and diffuse empirical applicability. Within the framework of the complexity and polycentric presentation of modern societies, this study presents a reflection on the possibilities of applying this theory in the observation and analysis of public administration. This paper is structured in three sections. First, it describes the meaning of complexity and how it impacts on the structure of public administration. Secondly, the basic epistemological and conceptual premises of the self-referential systems theory for public administration (self-referentiality and self-organization) and recent contributions (contextual orientation) are presented. It is emphasized that the capacity of self-organization of the public administration is not only a spontaneous process, but can also be structured and sequentially managed from the outside of the system, that is, in autonomous internal and external combination. In this thesis two distinctive aspects stand out. On one hand, a weak or unfinished point of the systems theory is found when establishing a link between self-organization and leadership, which is considered as necessary based on the "sequential" idea, and that in the systemic optics in the public administration applies to its ability to be autonomous and in turn dependent on the outside (political system). On the other hand, the analysis of the link between self-organization (endogenous) and leadership (exogenous) is exposed. Next, the concept of “triple differentiation” is explained from the perspective of public administration as a specialized functional system. Finally, some lines and hypotheses are presented for future research.

 

Key words: Public Administration Theory; System Analysis; Autonomy; Regulation Process 

 
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