How street-level dilemmas and politics shape divergence : The accountability regimes framework
2023-05-04, Thomann, Eva, Maxia, James, Ege, Jörn
Hierarchical accountability often proves insufficient to control street-level implementation, where complex, informal accountability relations prevail and tasks must be prioritized. However, scholars lack a theoretical model of how accountability relations affect implementation behaviors that are inconsistent with policy. By extending the Accountability Regimes Framework (ARF), this paper explains how multiple competing subjective street-level accountabilities translate into policy divergence. The anti-terrorism “Prevent Duty” policy in the United Kingdom requires university lecturers to report any student they suspect may be undergoing a process of radicalization. We ask: what perceived street-level accountabilities and dilemmas does this politically contested policy imply for lecturers, and how do they affect divergence? An online survey of British lecturers (N = 809), combined with 35 qualitative follow-up interviews, reveals that accountability dilemmas trigger policy divergence. The ARF models how street-level bureaucrats become informal policymakers in the political system when rules clash with their roles as professionals, citizen-agents, or “political animals.”
Improving Generalizability in Transnational Bureaucratic Influence Research : A (Modest) Proposal
2020-09-01, Ege, Jörn, Bauer, Michael W., Wagner, Nora
An impressive amount of evidence has been collected underpinning the importance of international public administrations (i.e., the secretariats of international governmental organizations) in a variety of policy areas, actor configurations, and multilevel political contexts. However, the problem of how to systematically observe and explain bureaucratic influence still lies at the core of the research puzzles that scholars presently attempt to solve. While acknowledging the achievements of recent research efforts, we argue that it is no coincidence that the results remain rather scattered and disconnected—as no consensus has been reached about how bureaucratic influence beyond nation states might be reasonably defined or reliably observed and how the individual insights gained could feed into the construction of a more general theory of bureaucratic influence in transnational governance. Based on a review of the literature, the essay describes what we see as the characteristic pitfalls of current research and presents two modest proposals on how the underlying challenges can be addressed. We first suggest defining the target of influence in terms of a particular policy and second advocate the inclusion of bureaucratic policy preferences into the influence concept. In order to help researchers to observe and compare policy influence across IPAs, we present a simple heuristic measurement scheme, which, if systematically applied, may help overcome the central ailment of recent influence studies. We demonstrate the applicability of the scheme by means of two empirical illustrations. The argument is that in the absence of a comprehensive descriptive, let alone analytical, theory of bureaucratic influence in transnational policymaking, our proposal may help to boost the accumulative potential of current research in the area.
Learning from the Commission case : The comparative study of management change in international public administrations
2019, Ege, Jörn
Despite the growing importance attributed to organizational performance in global governance, management change in international public administrations (IPAs) is still poorly understood. In particular, the lack of comparative analyses that cover a broader range of management areas limits our descriptive knowledge about the direction and intensity of management change in IPAs. Without such knowledge, however, refining existing theories about the causes and consequences of change is difficult. Based on the reforms of the European Commission, the article reviews available studies about managerial change in IPAs to identify pertinent topics, available knowledge and gaps in the literature. Aiming to narrow these gaps, empirical data on three IPAs are presented to show in which areas and to what degree the management changed over time in these cases and to illustrate how multi-dimensional managerial change can be studied comparatively in future research more generally.
How Financial Resources Affect the Autonomy of International Public Administrations
2017, Ege, Jörn, Bauer, Michael W.
Voluntary contributions – often earmarked for specific purposes – have become an indispensable source of revenue for international organizations (IOs) and the UN organizations in particular. While the reasons for this trend are regularly studied, its effects on the internal functioning of the organization (especially on the ‘international public administration’ (IPA) as the organization's secretariat) remain unclear. Given this gap, we study the consequences of increasing financial dependence for the autonomy of IPA staff. Using financial and personnel data of 15 UN agencies over time, our results are in line with the intuitive expectation that more financial resources in the form of voluntary contributions increase the number of staff. We also find evidence, however, that the more an organization depends on voluntary resources (within its broader financial portfolio), the more it reduces the ratio of permanent staff among its total workforce in the subsequent years. The underlying adaption of IPAs’ recruitment and career structures to growing financial insecurities has important implications for the autonomy of international bureaucrats and needs to be considered also in terms of its long-term impact on administrative professionalism and organizational performance.
How do international bureaucrats affect policy outputs? : Studying administrative influence strategies in international organizations
2021, Ege, Jörn, Bauer, Michael W., Wagner, Nora
The article investigates how international public administrations, as corporate actors, influence policymaking within international organizations. Starting from a conception of international organizations as political-administrative systems, we theorize the strategies international bureaucrats may use to affect international organizations’ policies and the conditions under which these strategies vary. Building on a most-likely case design, we use process tracing to study two cases of bureaucratic influence: the influence of the secretariat of the World Health Organization on the “Global action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases”; and the influence of the International Labour Office on the “Resolution concerning decent work in global supply chains”. We use interview material gathered from international public administration staff and stakeholders to illustrate varying influence strategies and the conditions under which these strategies are used. The study shows how and when international public administrations exert policy influence, and offers new opportunities to extend the generalizability of public administration theories.
Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) in Public Administration
2019, Thomann, Eva, Ege, Jörn
Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is increasingly establishing itself as a method in social research. QCA is a set-theoretic, truth-table-based method that identifies complex combinations of conditions (configurations) that are necessary and/or sufficient for an outcome. An advantage of QCA is that it models the complexity of social phenomena by accounting for conjunctural, asymmetric, and equifinal patterns. Accordingly, the method does not assume isolated net effects of single variables but recognizes that the effect of a single condition (that is, an explanatory factor) often unfolds only in combination with other conditions. Moreover, QCA acknowledges that the occurrence of a phenomenon can have a different explanation from its non-occurrence. Finally, QCA allows for different, mutually non-exclusive explanations of the same phenomenon. QCA is not only a technique; there is a diversity of approaches to how it can be implemented before, during and after the “technical moment,” depending on the analytic goals related to contributing to theory, engaging with cases, and the approach to explanation. Particularly since 2012, an increasing number of scholars have turned to using QCA to investigate public administrations. Even though the boundaries of Public Administration (PA) as an academic discipline are difficult to determine, it can be defined as an intellectual forum for those who want to understand both public administrations as organizations and their relationships to political, economic, and societal actors—especially in the adoption and implementation of public policies. Owing to its fragmented nature, there has been a long-lasting debate about the methodological sophistication and appropriateness of different comparative methods. In particular, the high complexity and strong context dependencies of causal patterns challenge theory-building and empirical analysis in Public Administration. Moreover, administrative settings are often characterized by relatively low numbers of cases for comparison, as well as strongly multilevel empirical settings. QCA as a technique allows for context-sensitive analyses that take into account this complexity. Against this background, it is not surprising that applications of QCA have become more widespread among scholars of Public Administration. A systematic review of articles using QCA published in the major Public Administration journals shows that the use of QCA started in mid-2000s and then grew exponentially. The review shows that, especially in two thematic areas, QCA has high analytical value and may (alongside traditional methodological approaches) help improve theories and methods of PA. The first area is the study of organizational decision-making and the role of bureaucrats during the adoption and implementation of public policies and service delivery. The second area where QCA has great merits is in explaining different features of public organizations. Especially in evaluation research where the aim is to investigate performance of various kinds (especially effectiveness in terms of both policy and management), QCA is a useful analytical tool to model these highly context-dependent relationships. The QCA method is constantly evolving. The development of good practices for different QCA approaches as well as several methodological innovations and software improvements increases its potential benefits for the future of Public Administration research.
What International Bureaucrats (Really) Want : Administrative Preferences in International Organization Research
2020-11-23, Ege, Jörn
The secretariats of international organizations (international public administrations [IPA s]) constitute the institutional grid of global governance. While recent research has provided valuable insights into the independent capacities of international organizations (IO s) and the influence of IPA s, we lack systematic knowledge of how scholars conceptualize the preferences of IO staff. This is lamentable because understanding the (unifying) motivations of “international civil servants” helps us to make sense of their behavior and influence during the adoption and application of IO policies. To review how IPA studies conceptualize the preferences of international bureaucrats, this article suggests a fourfold typology of ideal-typical bureaucratic behavior. It distinguishes between the underlying behavioral logic and dominant bureaucratic goal orientation. Applying the typology to thirty-nine journal articles allows us to map IPA preferences and behavior, and shows that the literature predominantly views IPA s as behaving responsibly and less self-centeredly than could be expected from economic accounts of bureaucracy.
The Challenge of Administrative Internationalization : Taking Stock and Looking Ahead
2019, Bauer, Michael W., Ege, Jörn, Schomaker, Rahel
The study of the processes and effects of internationalization has become a major field of inquiry in the social sciences. This article takes stock of corresponding research efforts in the field of public administration (PA) to understand the internationalization phenomenon by analyzing studies that were systematically sampled from major PA journals over recent decades. After delineating, sampling, categorizing, and subsequently examining the scholarly production of PA regarding what can be understood as the internationalization of domestic PA, three major themes of PA-related debates are identified: diffusion, resistance, and the transformation of bureaucratic power. The article concludes that PA has developed neither genuine research questions nor a coherent theoretical framework able to come to grips with the internationalization challenge. It ends with an appeal for PA to become aware of this deficit and recommends PA scholars liaise more intensively with other social sciences to overcome the current state of affairs.
The European Commission in Turbulent Times : Assessing Organizational Change and Policy Impact
2018, Ege, Jörn, Bauer, Michael W., Becker, Stefan, Bauer, Michael W., Ege, Jörn, Becker, Stefan
The European Union is going through turbulent times. The aftermath of the eurozone crisis, the challenges posed by increasing migration and the Brexit negotiations are just some of the recent challenges that have threatened the future of the Union. It is against this background that this volume brings together contributions by a variety of scholars from different academic disciplines. Focusing on the role of the Commission within the institutional system of the EU, its internal structures and processes as well as its policymaking and implementation activities, this book addresses some of the most pressing empirical and theoretical questions that have surrounded the Commission in recent years. While the last decade has intensified the challenges faced by this institution, this book’s main contention is that the Commission’s central position has partly endured as a result of deliberate decisions made by the EU’s member states, and partly through the Commission’s own activism.