Under the direction of Gerhard Hammerschmid, the Centre conducts broad-spectrum research on digitalisation and artificial intelligence in government, while also looking at the effects of digitalisation in authoritarian regimes and the regulation of platform economies and digital capacities. It combines:
- A public policy/governance perspective with a focus on government-business relations, regulation and ethical implications of digitalisation
- A public management/administration perspective with a focus on transforming government (policy, service delivery) through digitalisation.
The Centre explores perspectives of a European governance approach to digitalisation as an alternative to China's authoritarian and the US-American business-driven governance models, contributing to the development of "good statesmanship" in the digital age. In order to achieve this, the Centre combines evidence-based analyses of digitalisation phenomena with insights from good governance and normative standards to assess the impact of policies. It takes an interdisciplinary, intersectoral and collaborative approach from a global perspective that aspires to bridge informational gaps between policy areas and geographies.
The Centre's work addresses four sets of interrelated questions:
- What is the relationship between government, business and society in digital governance? Who is setting the rules of the game in the digital world?
- How can digitalisation be steered in a direction that improves public well-being? What is the best mix between government, business and society in the governance of digitalisation? Does this mix differ with respect to different aspects of digitalisation?
- How can digitalisation foster innovations in policymaking and public service delivery and drive government transformation? What is the best way to develop public management reform and state capacities (e.g. delivery, coordination, regulatory and analytical capacities) to overcome the challenges of digitalisation?
- Which ethical standards and framework(s) are helpful to assess policy initiatives in the area of digital governance? Do the principles of good governance need to be adopted? How do we operationalise them? Are there any new normative principles that are relevant?
- We aim to educate both a new generation of digital natives and professionals in the public sector facing digital transformations on how best to navigate this challenging space.
- The courses we offer present students with a broad range of tools that are necessary for successfully navigating the challenges that digitalisation poses for governance, as well as for understanding the interplay between government, business and the wider society in governing digitalisation.
- Our teaching is interdisciplinary, applied and innovative, and our faculty are internationally renowned.
- Some of our past and current courses for MIA and MPP students include:
Digital governance in China: How to pitch high-quality data to non-governmental actors.
Today over half of the world’s population has access to the Internet. As the front runner in digital innovation, China has experienced rapid digital development in the past ten years. Nowadays it has the largest Internet population, reaching about 802 million, more than twice the size of the population of the United States. Despite the size and importance of the Chinese Internet, however, until now we have had very little information about Internet users and the trends in digital development in China over the past ten years. What changes has China experienced over the past ten years on digital development? What is our best estimate for who uses the Internet in China and where Internet users are located? How popular are the various types of Chinese social media? What do Chinese Internet users normally use these social media for? Does the Internet empower them to discuss or even participate in politics? In this course, you will have access to data on Internet use in China. You will find your own answers to the questions above and draw your own conclusions on digital governance in China.
Professor Daniela Stockmann teaches this 1st year MPP course.
This course focuses on a comprehensive study of technological and organisational innovations for public administrations. Public administrations are increasingly engaging with a growing number of disruptive innovations, most of them originating in the private sector, such as: Human-centred design techniques to align public sector activity more closely with citizens’ needs; innovative approaches to the design of organisational structures and work processes, e.g. agile or non-hierarchical organisation forms, with the aim of working smarter; data analytics and machine learning to deal with the ever-growing amount of unstructured data available to public administrations; automation technologies to increase process efficiency, distributed ledger technologies such as blockchain providing new possibilities for decentralised governance models.
Professors Gerhard Hammerschmid and Thurid Hustedt teach this course for 1st year MPP students conjointly.
Digital Governance is changing the rules of the game regarding the capacities that governments are expected to build and deploy. In many aspects, these capacities can no longer be labelled as innovations but rather as necessary adaptations geared towards fulfilling core state functions against the backdrop of fast-changing communities of expertise and new emerging social phenomena.
This course delves into a number of topics related to the concept of state capacity and explores how state capacities evolve in the Digital Age. Within this framework, it explores the challenges, the empirical evidence and the unknowns of four core state areas: a) Law enforcement, digital identities, and the reach of the state; b) information-assisted regulation and algorithm governance; c) crowdsourcing, co-production and open collaborative technologies, and d) the use of blockchain technology by governments. Critical questions addressed are, for example, what are the conditions that allow better adaptability responses in terms of digital capacity building in the above areas? What are the known intended and unintended consequences of newly-adopted digital instruments? Why do countries fall into ‘capability traps’? What are the strongest opportunities and the biggest threats that lie ahead in the field of digital governance?
Discussions and debate points are drawn from the points of view of academics and practitioners alike and students are given an active role in investigating the most current problems and sources of information, which feed into an overall framework which addresses the course’s core questions. The major aim of this course is to provide students with theoretical and applied tools to dig deeper into new capacity challenges facing governments today.
Professor Luciana Cingolani teaches this course for 2nd year MIA and MPP students.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the economy, society and politics. This course explores this transformation and the corresponding political challenges. As a policy school, the Hertie School has a special responsibility to address these critical topics. By integrating perspectives from computer science and social science, the course provides learning experiences that examine the impact of AI on humans and societies.
We explore the following issues: The proliferation of algorithmic decision-making and autonomous systems; the issues of ethics, fairness, transparency and accountability in machine learning; the balance between regulation and innovation; the effects of AI on human rights and economic well-being; the global AI arms race; and increasing oppressive capabilities of state- and non-state actors.
Professors Slava Jankin and Joanna Bryson teach this course.