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Managing Empires. Cooperation, Competition, Conflict

5th Annual Conference of the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context"

October 9-11, 2013, Karl Jaspers Centre

In the history of maintaining empires, the role of administration can hardly be overestimated. Organisational practices provided the backbone of supranational ruling authorities, enabling them to consolidate, exercise and expand their political and economic power. Inevitably, the effectiveness and legitimacy of administrative systems shaped to a great extent the trajectories of these large entities through space and time, being not less decisive than charismatic leadership and military preparedness. The conference seeks to shed new light on the nexus between logistics and power by exploring the administrative/managerial foundations of different types of ‘empires’, ranging from traditional forms of centralized and supraregional ruling authorities to modern global companies. Setting a very wide temporal and spatial frame and including societies from ancient to modern times and from East to West, the conference will touch upon several manifestations of administrative organization such as competitive civil services examination, cameralistic budgeting and modern institutional management. In an attempt to better grasp the dynamic processes at the juncture of governance and administration, a special emphasis will be given to transcultural phenomena of cooperation, competition and conflict, shifting the focus from the study of hierarchy to that of networking.
The conference panels will attempt to provide a holistic view of ‘imperial’ management studying not only visions, rules and institutions but also highlighting the role of individuals and their careers which shaped the characteristics and operating dynamics of administrative systems. This attempt to expand previous investigation by stressing the significance of agency will employ two fields of analysis (an inside vs. outside view) relating to:

a) the strategies of recruiting, educating, promoting and controlling administrative personnel by their rulers/employers and also the impact of the officials’ energy, skills, knowledge and aspirations on the political or economic system which they served (inside view)

b) the complex relationships of social groups outside the orbit of administrative systems with the official institutions and their personnel (outside view).

Despite this clear focus on aspects of agency, it will be necessary to embed the individuals’ careers within specific context of managerial action and to broaden our perspective by exploring how departments, institutions and administrative systems interacted with each other in different regional and supraregional arenas of cooperation, competition and conflict.