This course will provide an overview of the phenomena of coordination and centralization in public administration and government.

While coordination and centralization are classical public administration issues, their presence and significance appear to have increased in contemporary transnational policy trends. This seems to contrast with the lately influential New Public Management (NPM) reform movement which often advocated decentralization and managerial autonomy as the definitive means for efficient government. While many NPM-affiliated ideas are still prevalent, more and more political and administrative issues, such as social impact, innovativeness, knowledge-based policy, bureaucratization and political impasses, are being reframed as questions of coordination and centralization.

Utilizing chiefly but not exclusively a policy ideas perspective to coordination and centralization, the course will discuss among others the following questions:

- What kinds of coordination and centralization policy ideas are there?
- How are coordination and centralization similar or different?
- How have these ideas developed over time from classical to contemporary public administration – what kinds of change and continuity are there?
- What kinds of contextual factors (political, social, economic, cultural, scientific, technological, intellectual) have influenced these developments?
- How could and should coordination and centralization be approached as research and practical issues?

Through completing the course, students will

- be familiar with a broad and relevant range of coordination and centralization ideas, both in research theory and in policy practice
- be able to critically compare, contextualize and evaluate these ideas
- be able to relate and discuss them with a variety of other political and administrative issues, both classical and contemporary, including those of their own interest and choice
- be able to independently utilize and apply these ideas in their further studies, research and practice

The principal course learning methods and requirements are

- a course reader of literature
- classes which combine lecturing, discussion and interaction
- exam OR essay as the final assignment

Please note this is a contact teaching version of the course PVK-P210 Special Topics in Public Administration held in Spring 2019. The study materials information of the standard literature exam version of this course (see below in Description and in WebOodi) does not apply to this version. The prerequisites and timing apply only to degree students. See elsewhere on this course page than in said Description and WebOodi for version-specific information and updates.

The course is suitable for exchange students. An advanced level in bachelor’s studies is recommended.

The language of instruction is English.

Teacher: Joonatan Virtanen

14.2.2019 at 09:00 - 11.3.2019 at 23:59


Here is the course’s teaching schedule. Check the description for possible other schedules.

Mon 11.3.2019
14:15 - 16:45
Thu 14.3.2019
09:15 - 11:45
Tue 19.3.2019
12:15 - 14:45
Thu 21.3.2019
09:15 - 11:45
Tue 26.3.2019
12:15 - 14:45
Thu 28.3.2019
09:15 - 11:45
Tue 2.4.2019
12:15 - 14:45


The course is one of the optional intermediate courses under the Study Track in Politics and Organisations.

Introduction to Politics and Organisations; Decision-making in Finland and the European Union; Theoretical Approaches to Politics and Organisations; Organisation Research

After completing the course, students will be familiar with the central content of a chosen topic in public administration and the most important related research approaches. In addition, they will be able to analyse the significance of questions related to the topic from the perspective of institutions of public authority and civic society, as well as apply their learning to social activity and professional expert positions.

Third year of studies

The course will deepen students’ understanding of research in public organisations in a separately chosen field. Specific course content may vary from term to term. Potential subject matters include the international organisation of administrative activities, collective activity in organisations, the effects of administrative reforms on the operations of public organisations, and challenges in controlling public organisations.

Three from the following:

- Michael W. Bauer, Christoph Knill, Steffen Eckhard (eds.): International Bureaucracy: Challenges and Lessons for Public Administration Research. Palgrave Macmillan 2017. 210 pp

- Bruce Bimber: Collective Action in Organizations: Interaction and Engagement in an Era of Technological Change. Cambridge University Press 2012. 240 pp

- Christopher Hood & Ruth Dixon: A Government that Worked Better and Cost Less?: Evaluating Three Decades of Reform and Change in UK Central Government. Oxford University Press 2015. 256 pp

- Jonathan G S Koppel: The Politics of Quasi-Government: Hybrid Organizations and the Dynamics of Bureaucratic Control. Cambridge University Press 2008. 256 pp

Graded on a scale of 0 to 5 (0=fail, 1=pass, 2=satisfactory, 3=good, 4=very good, 5=excellent)

Language of instruction: Finnish/Swedish or English

Contact teaching is not necessarily offered on an annual basis. If the course is not on offer, major subject students in the study line for administration and organisations who began their studies on 1 August 2016 or earlier can complete the course by taking an online book examination in the Examinarium facility. The book examination covers all required literature and substitutes for the entire course. The book examination can be taken throughout the academic year.