The Tower of Babylon in the Civil Service: Foresight as a Method of Coordination

Publikation: Beitrag in Buch oder TagungsbandVortrag mit Beitrag in TagungsbandBegutachtung


With numbers of governmental but also non-governmental organisations taking part in the governance of society increasing, the coordination of diverse sets of organisations becomes ever more important. A large number of measures has been tried for enhancing government coordination (Peters 1998; Verhoest et al 2007; Lindner 2012; Biegelbauer 2013) for both the policy and administrative levels. Problems, however, are persistent in many cases. Indeed the coordination of organisations featuring differing functions and goals is complicated to begin with, since organisations draw their legitimation from serving these respective goals which may or may not be congruent with the goals of other involved organisations. Complications furthermore stem from the fact that organisations are varying with respect to norms, values, cultures, clientele and practices developed to navigate the daily tasks specific to each organisation. The uniqueness of this set of variables characteristic for an organisation is an important reason for the failure of inter-organisational communication, cooperation and coordination. In the face of all the complications arising from coordination measures and the frequent failings of "quick fixes" and "one size fits all" solutions, we want to put on display an interesting case of government coordination. In this case a complex set of preconditions in a crosscutting policy field made the development of an advanced set of tools sensible in order to create preconditions necessary for an intergovernmental group to go ahead with its difficult coordination tasks. We want to show that there is hope for coordination efforts even under adverse circumstances, when certain conditions are met. We want to discuss what in our understanding these conditions are and how most of these were met in the case study. The case we are analysing is part of the RTI-Strategy of the Austrian Federal Government, which after the production of the actual document in 2011 has resulted in a number of working groups, one of which has focused on the issues of quality of life and demographic change (BKA, BMF, et al. 2011). The two topics the interministerial working group has to tackle are part of the grand challenges formulated by the European Commission and are rather broad areas, which are not located next to each other. The working group had a hard time to formulate a common position on the goal of the group, which was a result of the broadness and general perspective of its goals, the effect that it consisted of five ministries with a diverse set of tasks and was provided with no additional resources for coordination. In order to speed up the process, two years into the life of the working group one of the ministries decided to finance a pilot study on a subset of the issues the working group was to address. The study had specific goals for both the financing ministry and the working group. The authors have been part of the team providing the working group with study and accompanying process. We therefore draw our knowledge of the case from our engagement with the civil servants over the year of 2014, which was the duration of the project. The key objectives were to contribute to the setting up the foundations for a research and Innovation policy roadmap for the future development of mobility research and innovation which a) tackles the Grand societal challenge of demographic change, and b) incorporates an emphasis on quality of life in all its actions. In the following we highlight the critical conditions and respective key success factors that helped to shape the results of the process.
TitelThe Book of Abstracts for The 2015 Annual Conference of the EU-SPRI Forum: Innovation policies for economic and social transitions: Developing strategies for knowledge, practices and organizations.
Redakteure/-innenArho Suominen, Hannes Toivanen, Mika Nieminen
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2015
VeranstaltungEU-SPRI 2015 -
Dauer: 11 Juni 201512 Juni 2015


KonferenzEU-SPRI 2015

Research Field

  • Ehemaliges Research Field - Innovation Systems and Policy


  • innovation policy
  • multi-level governance of innovation
  • co-ordination
  • foresight,


Untersuchen Sie die Forschungsthemen von „The Tower of Babylon in the Civil Service: Foresight as a Method of Coordination“. Zusammen bilden sie einen einzigartigen Fingerprint.

Diese Publikation zitieren