Francesco Merloni

Cognitive Activities and Techniques of Public Administrations: Organizational Aspects

  • Abstract

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The work deals with the organizational aspects of cognitive activities and techniques for attending to the public interest. In contemporary societies the cognitive activities carried on and the techniques applied by the public administrations assume a central role, not only because public legislative and administrative decisions rest more and more upon knowledge of an increasingly complex reality, on the one hand, owing to the very difficulty in comprehending the manifold phenomena to be investigated and verified, and, on the other hand, due to the broader spectrum of cognitive tools and methods available. From this standpoint the author examines "activities with high technical content", which activities entail to a considerable degree the adoption of such 'techniques' as the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, whether involving the direct application of technical rules or activities aimed at acquiring knowledge of reality. The reflections are carried out within the framework of a general interpretation concerning the importance of organization understood as the arrangement and distribution of activities pertaining to the exercise of functions. The legal relevance of organizational decisions is no longer just instrumental to the activity, but is the predefinition of the conditions of future performance of activities such as: i) choice of the 'right' offices (best suited to the performance of the activities); ii) permanent assignment of activities to the offices in order to guarantee the citizen. The analysis of the evolution of the models of organization of cognitive and technical activities brings to light the tension arisen between cognitive needs instrumental to administrative decision and those tied to the more general cognitive function, per se important. The reflection concludes with a search for organizational solutions able to reconcile different instrumental needs hitherto object of fragmentary and inhomogeneous normative measures.

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