A interesting and charming book recently published by SDU publishers, describing the ‘Kafka-like’ situations people often experience when they have to deal with various bureaucratic government institutions.*
The Kafkabrigade is a group of independent researchers, related to Kennisland and Zenc. During the past four years they have developed a method to investigate and address unneccesary complicated bureaucratic procedures. With this book ‘Kafka in de polder‘, they aim to share their experiences and knowledge with other people, so they too can contribute to the improvement of public services.
The method described in Kafka in the polder consists of 6 steps:
1. Exploratory research – first impressions of the situation and selection of a relevant case to study
2. Case study – interviews with the citizens involved
3. Counter expertise – interviews with civil servants, policy makers and external experts
4. Joint review – discussion with all stakeholders, based on preliminary analysis
5. Definition of action plan – agreement on recommended improvements
6. Follow-up review – evaluation of new procedures after six months
The book describes and reflects on many examples of case studies the Kafkabrigade has worked on. It is sensitive to the perspectives of both the citizens and the civic servants. It addresses the changes on various levels in the internal organisation of bureaucratic organisations needed to improve the quality of their pubic services. Policy as well as execution need to be reviewed to solve Kafka-like situations.
*The name Kafkabrigade is based on the work by Franz Kafka, and specifically his novel The Trial. In this novel the protagonist is caught up in a surreal, but frightingly realistic described, bureaucratic nightmare. Although he tries hard to cooperate and to argue his case with reason, he does not manage find out what the actual charge made against him is, nor what the procedure for his trial will be.