When Bureaucracy Meets the Crowd: Studying “Open Government” in the Vienna City Administration

Open Government is en vogue, yet vague: while practitioners, policy-makers, and others praise its virtues, little is known about how Open Government relates to bureaucratic organization. This paper presents insights from a qualitative investigation into the City of Vienna, Austria. It demonstrates how the encounter between the city administration and “the open” juxtaposes the decentralizing principles of the crowd, such as transparency, participation, and distributed cognition, with the centralizing principles of bureaucracy, such as secrecy, expert knowledge, written files, and rules. The paper explores how this theoretical conundrum is played out and how senior city managers perceive Open Government in relation to the bureaucratic nature of their administration. The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to empirically trace the complexities of the encounter between bureaucracy and Open Government; and second, to critically theorize the ongoing rationalization of public administration in spite of constant challenges to its bureaucratic principles. In so doing, the paper advances our understanding of modern bureaucratic organizations under the condition of increased openness, transparency, and interaction with their environments.

Martin Kornberger, Renate E. Meyer, Christof Brandtner, and Markus Höllerer. 2017. When Bureaucracy Meets the Crowd: Studying “Open Government” in the Vienna City Administration, Organization Studies, 38(2): 179-200: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0170840616655496

2017-10-13T09:40:53+00:00 By |

About the Author:

Martin Kornberger
Martin Kornberger received his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Vienna in 2002. Prior to joining EM Lyon he worked at the University of Technology Sydney as associate professor in design and management, and as research director of the Australian Creative Industry Innovation Centre; and at Copenhagen Business School as professor for strategy and organization. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Edinburgh Business School and a research fellow at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. His research focuses on the ideas that inform strategy practice and new organizational designs, with the aim to stretch the imagination of practitioners and scholars.

The quality and scope of his scholarship has been recognized on an international level. His research has been published in top tier journals including Organization Studies, Organization, Human Relations, Accounting, Organization and Society, Journal of Business Ethics, Strategic Organization, Theory, Culture and Society, Sociological Review, Urban Studies and many others. Besides he has published numerous book chapters and co-authored and edited ten books, including Brand Society (Cambridge University Press), Making Things Valuable (Oxford University Press) and Plan B (Murmann).

In a previous life, he co-founded the Sydney-based branding agency PLAY which has delivered brand strategies and experiences for clients including PricewaterhouseCoopers, ISS, MINI, Adobe, GlaxoSmithKline, Kellog’s, Subaru, Jaguar, The Sydney Opera House and others. Today, he applies his research for organizations such as Tetrapak, Deloitte, Deutsche Bahn and many others.

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