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A4 Bureaucracies (project completed)

The Fascination of Efficiency: Migrating Ideas and Emerging Bureaucracies in Europe and Asia since the Early Modern Era

Koordination: Susan Richter


The European idea of an efficient administration in the 18th century owed much of its inspiration to contemporary records of China that described China as an ideal type of a well-organized and carefully constructed state. Various European thinkers and their theories of state – e.g. Wolff and Justi in Germany, Voltaire and Quesnay in France or Budgell in England – were influenced by the Chinese education, examination and government system. Some of these ideas like the principle of civil servants examinations became reality in Europe in the late 18th and 19th century. Otherwise administrative reforms in Asia had repercussions on the European concept of bureaucracy especially in the 19th century. The project explores these transcultural migrations of notions of order, bureaucratic efficiency and bureaucratic ethos and their realisation by the transfer of institutions between Europe and Asia from the age of Enlightenment to the early 20th century.

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