Journal of
Public Administration and Policy Research

  • Abbreviation: J. Public Adm. Policy Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2480
  • DOI: 10.5897/JPAPR
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 149


The digitally induced increase of wicked problems as a challenge for politics and public management

Olaf Winkel
  • Olaf Winkel
  • Berlin School of Economics and Law, CL – FB 3: Public Administration Alt-Friedrichsfelde 60, 10315 Berlin, Germany.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 03 May 2020
  •  Accepted: 18 January 2021
  •  Published: 31 January 2021


This paper aims to shed light on the connection between two developments that are increasingly shaping countries all over the world, especially in the western hemisphere: The boost in wicked problems and the rapidly advancing digitization. It also deals with the challenges this poses to politics and public administration. Some fields of action, which are closely related to the current socio-technical changes, are exemplarily highlighted. These are the main results of the study: Digitization leads to an increase in social complexity, diversity and uncertainty and can push conflicts of goals to the extreme. Therefore, in the transition to the digital information society, the emergence of new and the aggravation of already existing wicked problems must be expected. This raises new challenges for politics, administration, and other players involved in fulfilling public tasks. Cultural and institutional innovations become necessary in order to improve the societal abilities for problem resolution.


Key words: Wicked problems, digitization, complexity, diversity, uncertainty, conflicts of interest, public management, public policy, governance.