Quantification, Administrative Capacity and Democracy (QUAD)

A cooperative research project between the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (UK), École nationale supérieure de mines de Paris (France), Universiteit Leiden (Netherlands), Bielefeld University and the Helmut-Schmidt-University (Germany)

Numbers increasingly govern public services. Both policy-making activities and administrative control are increasingly structured around calculations such as cost-benefit analyses, estimates of social and financial returns, measurements of performance and risk, benchmarking, quantified impact assessments, ratings and rankings, all of which provide information in the form of a numerical representation. Through quantification, public services have experienced a fundamental transformation from “government by rules” to “governance by numbers”, with fundamental implications not just for our understanding of the nature of public service itself, but also for wider debates about the nature of citizenship and democracy.

This project scrutinizes the relationships between quantification, administrative capacity and democracy across three policy sectors (health/hospitals, higher education/universities, criminal justice/prisons) and four countries (France, Germany, Netherlands, UK). It offers a cross-national and cross-sectoral study of how managerialist ideas and instruments of quantification have been adopted and how they mattered. More specifically, it examines

(i) how quantification has travelled across sectors and states;

(ii) relations between quantification and administrative capacity; and

(iii) how quantification has redefined relations between public service and liberal democratic
understandings of public welfare, notions of citizenship, equity, accountability and


Project information

Funding scheme: Open Research Area (ORA) for the Social Sciences

Funder: Each country's leading research institution:

- UK: Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
- France: Agence Nationale de Recherche (ANC)
- Netherlands: Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)
- Germany: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Deutschland

Duration: 3 years, beginning 2nd quarter 2016


Project members


Mines ParisTech
(ENS des mines), Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (CSI)

Prof. Dr. Fabian Muniesa

Dr. Florence Paterson



Leiden University, Institute of Political Science

Prof. Dr. Arjen Boin



London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE)

Department of Government

Prof. Dr. Martin Lodge

Department of Accounting

Prof. Dr. Andrea Mennicken

Prof. Dr. Peter Miller

Prof. Dr. Liisa Kurunmäki



Bielefeld University, Faculty of Sociology

Department for Law and Society

Prof. Dr. Michael Huber

Prof. Dr. Alfons Bora


Helmut-Schmidt-University, Hamburg

Department for Management Accounting and Control

Prof. Dr. Tobias Scheytt

Dr. Christian Huber


last modified Nov 22, 2019 03:51 PM

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