Fritz W. Scharpf (born 12 February 1935 in Schwäbisch Hall) is a German professor and Emeritus Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies. His areas of interest include; the organisational problems and decision processes in governments at all levels; the political economy of inflation and unemployment; comparative political economy of the welfare state.
In 2000, Scharpf was awarded the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science.
Scharpf is an author of several books and his articles have appeared in numerous journals.
In a 1988 scholarly article, Scharpf, Fritz W. (1988). The Joint-Decision Trap. Lessons From German Federalism and European Integration. Public Administration, Vol. 66, No. 2. pp. 239–78., he identified a situation labelled joint decision trap, in which there is a tendency for government decisions to be taken at the lowest common denominator in situations where the decision-makers have the ability to veto the proposals. It is common challenge for federal governments, such as Germany, and the European Union.