UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Wolfgang Drechsler

Wolfgang Drechsler is an Honorary Professor at the UCL Institute for Innovation for Public Purpose (IIPP).


Wolfgang is Professor of Governance at the Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance at Tallinn University of Technology, as well as an Associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center.

His academic focus areas include Technology, Innovation & Governance; Non-Western paradigms of governance, especially Buddhist, Confucian, and Islamic (Southeast and East Asia); and Public Management Reform generally. He also has a strong background both in heterodox economic theory and in classical political philosophy.

He has a PhD from the Uni­ver­sity of Marburg and a SocScD (honorary doc­torate) from Cor­vi­nus Uni­versity of Bu­dapest. He has been André Molitor Chair at the Univer­sité catholique de Louvain and was previously a Visit­ing Professor at the Uni­versities of Lund and of Erfurt, at the Cen­tral University of Finance and Eco­nomics Bei­jing, at the Uni­versity of Malaya, at Zhejiang and at Gadjah Mada Univer­sities, at the Na­tional Institute for Development Admin­istration (NIDA) Bangkok, and at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Na­tional Uni­versity of Singapore (full-time). In 2019, he was an ANZSOG Visiting Scholar.

Within civil service, Wolfgang has been Ad­visor to the President of Estonia, Executive Secretary with the German Wissenschaftsrat during German Reunification, an APSA Congressional Fellow as well as a Senior Legislative Analyst in the United States Congress. Additionally, he has been a consultant to international institutions such as the OECD, the Council of Europe, SIGMA, the World Bank, the European Union (especially Commission and Parliament), the Inter-American De­velopment Bank, the UNDP, to national govern­ments, and to private sector organisations.

Wolfgang has received the Estonian National Science Award, the Alena Brunovskà Award for Teaching Excellence, the Maar­jamaa Rist (Estonia’s Order of Merit), the German Federal Merit Cross and the Senator Boorsma Award from SECoPA. He is author or editor of more than 20 books and journal issues and well over 100 scholarly articles.

Selected publications

Academic working papers
  • Kattel, R., Drechsler, W. and Karo, E. (2019). Innovation bureaucracies: How agile stability creates the entrepreneurial state. UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Working Paper Series (IIPP WP 2019-12). Available at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/public-purpose/wp2019-12
  • “Max Weber and the Mandate of Heaven”, Max Weber Studies, vol. 20, no. 1 (January 2020).
    “The Politics of Bureaucracy: The Central and Eastern European Perspective” (with Tiina Randma-Liiv), The British Journal of Politics & International Relations, vol. 21 (2019)
  • “The Guthis: Buddhist Societal Organization for the 21st Century” (with Shobhit Shakya), in Thich Nhat Tu, ed., Buddhism around the World. United Nations Day of Vesak 2019, Hanoi: Religion Publisher, 2019, pp. 501-527.
  • “After Public Administration Scholarship”, in Andrew Massey, ed., A Research Agenda for Public Administration, Cheltenham – Northamp­ton, Mass.: Edward El­gar, 2019, pp. 220-234.
  • “The Reality and Diversity of Buddhist Economics”, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, vol. 78 (2019), no. 2, pp. 523-560.
  • “Public Administration as a scholarly discipline today – and how ICT will affect it”, Philippine Journal of Public Administration, vol. 61 (2017, recte 2019), no. 1-2, pp. 127-141.
  • “Wang Anshi’s Economic Reforms: Proto-Keynesian Economic Policy in Song Dynasty China” (with Xuan Zhao), Cambridge Journal of Economics, vol. 42 (2018), no. 5, pp. 1239-1254.
  • “Agile local governments: Experimentation before implementation” (with Ralf-Martin Soe), Government Information Quarterly, vol. 35 (2018), no. 2, pp. 323-335.
  • “Three Decades, Four Phases: Public Administration Development in Central and Eastern Europe, 1989-2017” (with Tiina Randma-Liiv), International Journal of Public Sector Management, 30th anniversary edn., vol. 30 (2017), no. 6-7, pp. 595-605.
  • “Making (in) the smart city:  The emergence of makerspaces” (with Vasilis Niaros and Vasilis Kostakis), Telematics and Informatics, no. 34 (2017), pp. 1143-1152.
  • “Der Kaiser kommt – Kontext und Politik im weißen Rößl” (with Ingbert Edenhofer), in “Im weißen Rößl” – Kulturgeschichtliche Perspektiven, Populäre Kultur und Musik, vol. 19, Nils Grosch, und Carolin Stahrenberg, eds., Münster: Waxmann, 2016, pp. 219-233.
  • “In Some Central and Eastern Countries, Some NPM tools sometimes Work: A reply to Dan and Pollitt’s ‘NPM can work’” (with Tiina Randma-Liiv), Public Management Review, vol. 18, no. 10 (2016), pp. 1559-1565.
  • “Kings and Indicators: Options for Governing without Numbers”, in Markus J. Prutsch, ed., Science, Numbers and Politics, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, pp. 227-261
  • “Beyond the Western Paradigm: Confucian Public Administration”, in Sara Bice, Avery Poole and Helen Sullivan, eds., Public Policy in the ‘Asian Century’ – Concepts, Cases, and Futures, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, pp. 19-40.
  • “Islamic Public Administration in Europe”, in Edoardo Ongaro and Sandra van Thiel, eds., The Palgrave Handbook of Public Administration and Management in Europe, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, pp. 1031-1047.
  • “The German Historical School and Kathedersozialismus”, in Handbook of Alternative Theories of Economic Development, Erik S. Reinert et al., eds., Cheltenham – Northamp­ton, Mass.: Edward El­gar, 2016, 109-123. Paperback edn. (reprint), 2018.