From Expert Administration to Accountability Network: A New Paradigm for Comparative Administrative Law

Notwithstanding recent scholarly interest in comparative administrative law, the categories and concepts that structure comparisons and that facilitate communication among different legal systems have not changed much since the late 1800s. They are rooted in confidence in expert bureaucracy to accomplish public purposes and are twofold-administrative organization and judicial review. This outdated view of administrative law has limited the ability of the field to engage with contemporary debates on administrative governance, which instead are deeply skeptical of public administration and are premised on achieving the public good through a plural accountability network of public and private actors. This paper seeks to correct the anachronism by reframing administrative law as a set of rules designed to embed public administration and civil servants in their democratic societies: accountability to elected officials, organized interests, the courts, and the general public. Based on this new paradigm, the paper compares American and European administrative law, with reference to other parts of the world too. It concludes with a number of suggestions for how comparative law can speak to current debates on reforming administrative governance.