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Understanding Organizational Reforms in the Modern State: Specialization and Integration in Norway and France

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Abstract

This article examines the challenge Norway and France face in coordinating specialized government activities after 10 years of comprehensive reforms. The focus is on the tension between territorial and sectoral specialization and between vertical and horizontal specialization. We describe both sector-specific administrative reforms and more overarching general reforms, looking at similarities and differences in the reorganization choices made by the two countries and also at what drives change. We argue that a combination of factors is required to explain outcomes. These factors include not only home-grown reforms but also sectoral challenges, diffusion and learning from abroad, adaptation to the financial crisis and budget deficit, and choices made by powerful political executives. Sometimes these factors work together and reinforce each other, producing radical reforms; at other times they have a mutually constraining influence, resulting in only minor changes.

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