Administrations encounter people as offices, institutions or corporations, i.e. as organisations with certain responsibilities, which are exercised by employees. They also ensure the operation of municipalities, regions, states and international organisations. Fulfilling their functions usually requires the cooperation of different administrations because tasks they performed in their jurisdiction overlap. Although administrations, just like politics, often act across borders, they are still seen as organisations of a jurisdiction or instruments of a government.

As bureaucracies, administrations exert powers of a state or its subunits, which are organized on a territorial basis. Within the nation state, local, regional and central administrations are interlinked through division of labour, exchange of information, cooperation and control. Administrations of International Organizations lack the authority to implement decisions and thus depend on the support of national administrations. In the EU, we observe new patterns of multi-level governance in public administration. The functions, procedures and coordination services of these „entangled bureaucracies“ vary, as do the power relations and legitimation problems they create.

Unlike multi-level systems in politics, administrative governance between levels are rarely studied, and if so, research covers only certain cases. In theory, they multilevel administration is usually described as informal structures or networks. However, in practice different linkages and coordination processes emerged, which vary according to institutional conditions and tasks.

The conference should integrate the dispersed research on multi-level administration in order to comparison of the different patterns and their consequences. It aims at paving the way for differentiated and practice-relevant analyses.

The individual contributions should address following guiding questions:

  • Why do administrative relations develop between municipalities, countries/regions, central government, EU or International Organisations?
  • How are such multi-level relationships organised (informal or institutionalized, and if so, how), and according to which procedures do administrations coordinate their decisions?
  • Which forms of interaction and which mechanisms coordination are applied in multilevel administration (unilateral or mutual adaptation, negotiation, different forms of „soft governance“ such as information, transfer and diffusion)?
  • How effective is the coordination? Are there structural causes for coordinate failure?
  • How do power structures affect in multilevel administrations (power based on competencies, resources, autonomy) and how can power be legitimized?

In order to obtain a basis for comparisons, the contributions and discussions should be structured according to two aspects: On the one hand, we want to compare multi-level administrations in the nation state with multi-level administrations in the European and international context. We assume that structures and operation of multi-level administrations within the institutional framework of the state (also in a federal state) differ from those characterizing administrative relations beyond the state.

On the other hand, a distinction between administrations dealing with regulatory functions and administrations fulfilling service functions seems to be relevant. The former require resolving conflicts of interest and overcoming resistance to regulation, the latter call for cooperation between service providers and recipients.

To stimulate a focused comparison between these administrative areas, we would particularly like to see contributions dealing with administration in the areas of environment, climate protection or energy transformation. Administrations contributing to the sustainable development of society are particularly dependent on interaction and coordination between local, regional, national and international levels.


Papers can be presented in German and English. The conference is to be held in both languages.
Please send your proposal with a short abstract by 26 August 2018 to Arthur Benz (

Thursday, 21. – Friday, 22. Februar 2019 / Schader-Forum, Goethestraße 2, 64285 Darmstadt



Prof. Dr. Arthur Benz
Technische Universität Darmstadt, Institut für Politikwissenschaft

Dr. Tobias Robischon

Organised by

Technische Universität Darmstadt,  Institut für Politikwissenschaft
International Public Administration DFG Research Unit