The Transformations of Comparative Administrative Law

By Giulio Napolitano

Notwithstanding the recent success of cognate disciplines, such as European Administrative Law and Global Administrative Law, the room for Comparative Administrative Law remains ample. A deep-reaching methodo- logical renewal, however, is currently taking place and should be further advanced. A mere description of the differences between domestic jurisdic- tions is no longer sufficient, and the perspective based on legal families is often misleading. A transnational or «beyond the borders» approach is also requi- red, to attain a deeper understanding of the reasons why administrative law systems increasingly converge (to the point of even legitimizing the idea of a cosmopolitan administrative law). At the same time, however, administrative law systems still partially differ, both in design and in their implementation. The walls erected by legal nationalism have fallen. However, the context matters, especially in public law. As a consequence, specific interdisciplinary investments are needed. Finally, the toolbox of the comparative administra- tive lawyer must be honed, in order to take into account the growing role played by statutes and codes, the different ways in which bureaucracies work and perform, following their internal protocol and complying with legal constraints, and the «hard cases» (in political, economic, and social terms), that courts increasingly address using transnational and comparative law arguments.