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Gerhard Hammerschmid and Thurid Hustedt: Digital ministry may not be solution to modernise German bureaucracy

In SZ and Tagesspiegel, the professors at the Centre for Digital Governance point to effective measures.

Digitalisation and a modern state are at the top of the agenda in current coalition talks between Germany’s Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats. One idea is a Ministry for Digital Affairs. Gerhard Hammerschmid, Hertie School Professor of Public and Financial Management and Director at the Centre for Digital Governance, and Thurid Hustedt, Professor of Public Administration and Management, argue otherwise in three articles that appeared in the German dailies Süddeutsche Zeitung and Tagesspiegel in the past week.

Hammerschmid says in the Süddeutsche Zeitung that a recent comparative study did not find any evidence “that a Ministry for Digital Affairs provides a positive impact on the digital progress of a country.” Assigning the subject to a strong ministry, such as the Federal Ministry of Finance, would make more sense, he says.

On the same note, Hustedt advocates for a “broader understanding of digitalisation” in Tagesspiegel. According to the researcher, Germany’s digitalisation process needs to include organisational change, too. Germany needs to establish a culture of learning by doing – also by making mistakes, she says. The private sector should function as a role model for creating "innovation units in which people work and think differently,” Hustedt says.   

Read the full articles in the Süddeutsche ZeitungTagesspiegel (Ministry for Digital Affairs), and Tagesspiegel (Humble Governance). (in German) 

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