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date: 20 September 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the tension between the traditional role of public institutions, geared to uphold values of equal treatment and the rule of law on the one hand, and the more recent role, emphasizing contextualization and flexibility on the other. It discusses the strategies of governments in reconciling the tension between institutional stability and flexibility, including deregulation, the introduction of ‘soft steering’ instruments, and institutional innovation. The article argues that ‘flexible government’ and a new government role in governance have not been attained by making government itself flexible, but rather by making governance and management more flexible and contextually defined. It also discusses the main tenets of administrative reform in the advanced democracies.

Keywords: public institutions, contextualization, institutional instability, institutional flexibility, deregulation, institutional innovation, governance, administrative reform, advanced democracies

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