Accounting for Time: Public Bureaucracies in a Changing Environment

Ph.D. -course

Course description

Course content

Issues of time, temporality and temporal dynamics are central to any form of organizational life. In a public sector environment, they are omnipresent when deciding on policy priorities (e.g., when and in what order to engage in certain actions), during policy development and implementation (e.g., budget cycles, setting up time horizons) as well as turbulent environments due to major economic, health or terror-related events (e.g., response speed, sequence, and length).

This course has three main goals. It aims to

i) deepen students' theoretical and conceptual knowledge of time and temporal dynamics in public sector settings,

ii) develop their understanding of the role of temporal dynamics and environmental turbulence for public management and governance (including 'robust' governance),

iii) strengthen their methodological toolbox to study temporal dynamics at the individual and organizational levels

To achieve these three aims, an important and unique feature of the course lies in its combination of both substantive and methodological modules, which will offer students thorough and comprehensive insights into the issues that arise form - and during - the study of public bureaucracies in a changing environment.

Learning outcomes

After successfully completing this course, doctoral students should be able to:
  • critically reflect on the concept of time and its various forms and roles within public organizations in a changing environment
  • identify, discuss and value the role(s) of time for public sector governance, including environmental turbulence and robust governance.
  • outline, develop and implement methodological strategies and research designs aimed at capturing temporal dynamics.

Study period

15.06.2023 - 21.06.2023

Credits (ECTS)


Course location

Department of Government, University of Bergen
Language of instruction
Course registration and deadlines

The application deadline is 30 April 2023.

Within 15 May 2023: Decisions to all applicants about course admittance

Within 31 May 2023: Deadline to confirm attendance for accepted participants

Please register here

Compulsory Requirements
  • Class participation and discussion (participation in at least 80 % of seminars)
  • Submit draft of research essay
  • Discussion on a peer's presentation
  • Form of assessment
  • Presentation and discussion of a research paper during on the seminar presentations.
  • Hand-in of an individual research paper submitted three weeks after the end of the course (5000 words +/- 10%).
  • Who may participate

    Students who register for this course must be enrolled in a PhD-programme. Exceptions for students enrolled in relevant master's degree programmes and Faculty/staff will be considered if capacity allows, though PhD students will be given priority.

    Applicants for the course must submit their CV along with a brief statement (250-400 word) that describes how temporality and temporal dynamics are relevant to - and will be addressed within - their own doctoral research. Course admittance is based in part on this brief.

    Maximum 15 participants. Support for travel and accommodation can be provided for at most five students, if necessary.


    Day 1:

    • Module I: "Multiple Times and Synchronisation in Public Administration"
    • Lecturer: Prof. Klaus Goetz (LMU Munich)
    • Paper presentations by PhD students

    Day 2:

    • Module II: "Public Organizations in Time: Evolution, Revolution and Resilience"
    • Lecturer: Prof. Muiris MacCarthaigh (Queens University, Belfast)
    • Paper presentations by PhD students

    Day 3:

    • Module III: "Robust Governance in Turbulent Times"
    • Lecturer: Prof. Christopher Ansell, University of California, Berkeley
    • Paper presentations by PhD students

    Day 4:

    • Module IV: "Tools to Study Temporal Dynamics in Public Administration Research"
    • Lecturers: Profs. Benny Geys, BI, and Jan Wynen, University of Antwerp
    • Paper presentations by PhD students

    Day 5:

    • Paper presentations by PhD students

    Complete course description with programme in Mitt UiB

    Academic responsible
    Professor Zuzana Murdoch

    Prof. Christopher Ansell, University of California, Berkeley

    Prof. Benny Geys, BI Norwegian Business School

    Prof. Klaus Goetz, LMU Munich

    Prof. Muiris MacCarthaigh, Queens University, Belfast

    Prof. Zuzana Murdoch, University of Bergen

    Prof. Jan Wynen University of Antwerp

    Reading list