The State in the Great Transformation

Conference in Tutzing from 4th to 6th March 2020


In the political rhetoric of recent decades, the state has often been declared to be greedy and cumbersome, a model that cannot keep up with the efficiency and dynamism of the private sector. The state is the problem, not the solution. Private sector mechanisms and frameworks gained in importance in the face of a widely perceived policy weakness even in those areas where privatisation was not an issue. Forward-looking problem solutions outside the private sector were most likely to be found in civil society.

For some time now, however, a growing interest in the core functions and core prerequisites of statehood, but also in considerations of an entrepreneurial state, has been observed. At the same time, political populism brought a new kind of state capacity to act onto the political agenda. Against the horizon of global problems, however, the potential of populist prioritizations of national interest seems to be of little use. On the whole, the co-evolution of public and private spheres can develop in different directions – also in the direction of a pathological interpenetration of both areas. The ability of the state to act and to act in a problem-adequate manner in the sense of public interests are dependent on preconditions whose creation lies neither in the area of legal nor political mechanisms. State scepticism is also understandable in the light of state failures and the dangers of the usurpation of state means of power by particular interests. However: The development of an agency capable of acting for genuine public goods and interests is of decisive importance in social transformation processes. Where these processes have already begun, this becomes all too obvious (keywords: climate change and digitalisation). Its problem horizon can be compared with the challenges that led to a fundamental reorientation of public institutions and organisations during the industrial revolution in the 19th century. It was then that the welfare state was born.

Can a transformational statehood develop today as well? What contribution could economic sciences make? How important is the difficult area of tension between supranational regulatory needs, political weakness, and national interest as the gravitational center of new capacity to act? And what about the further development of the entire institutional architecture such as infrastructures in the fields of digital economy and ecological mobility?

Dr. Martin Held, Protestant Academy Tutzing
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Klüh, University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt
Prof. Dr. Richard Sturn, University of Graz