Organizational Learning in International Organizations : the Case of UN Peace Operations

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2005
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Breul, Rainer
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With the United Nations and the Bretton-Woods institutions approaching their 60th anniversary and most other IOs having been established decades ago, there is still little systematic research on how they change over time, whether they can adapt to changes in the international system, or whether and how they can learn about new problems, actors, or altering requirements for effective action. The end of the Cold War and the process of globalization with its various dimensions have fundamentally changed the organizations environment and modified the conditions under which most of our current international organizations were created to function. Some IOs have successfully changed, while others persist and have lost importance, and only very few organizations have ceased to exist. However there is little convincing theory to account for this variance. The mentioned negligence of the internal functioning of IOs, has led to a theoretical blind spot to explain phenomena of organizational persistence and change.

In this study a new model, based on the concept of organizational learning, is proposed to explain the persistance and change of UN peace operations after the Cold War. This study underlines the importance of internal cognitive structures for change in international organizations. They emerge as a decisive factor in the explanation of organizational persistence of UN peace operations during the early 1990s, when the Secretariat refused to revise its traditional concept of peacekeeping. The OL approach brings to light the importance of signals about environmental changes and their ambiguity, as the UN was faced with very vague information, and was lacking the experience and resources to adjust to these new challenges. In this regard the importance of the interplay between decision-making bodies and the Secretariat is highlighted, as effective communication and a consensus between the two were deemed essential for successful change. As was observed, the Brahimi panel did not create new knowledge, but made an effort to communicate and build a consensus around existing recommendations for change. Related to this observation, our OL approach has drawn attention to hidden or implicit knowledge, which can be found in the organization and can be used by the administrative leadership to conduct reform. The OL approach emphasizes the significance of the absorptive capacity of IOs, as it demonstrates that the organizations needs ample resources to process information and that understaffing can also hamper learning and reform. External shock and crisis are identified as viable learning conditions of IOs.

Zusammenfassung in einer weiteren Sprache

Die vorliegende Arbeit untersucht Lern- und Wandel-Prozesse in Internationalen Organisationen. Hierzu wird ein Modell entwickelt, welches, basierend auf den Grundlagen der Theorie des Organisationslernens, die spezifischen Charakteristika von Internationalen Organisationen und ihrer Lernumwelt berücksichtigt. Da Modelle der Organisationstheorie allgemein und speziell Organisationslernen in den gängigen Theorien der internationalen Beziehungen (IB) kaum Berücksichtigung finden, versucht der Autor durch eine explorative Herangehensweise die Plausibilität des Theorietransfers zu erarbeiten. So wird das äußerst rigide und ambivalente Umfeld von Internationalen Organisationen anhand eines Konzepts einer inneren und äußeren Lernumwelt analysiert und somit die große Schwierigkeit von Veränderungen erklärt. Die Analyse streicht insbesondere die Bedeutung interner, kognitiver Strukturen sowie die Rolle von boundary spanning units , organisatorische Einheiten, die Wissen und Signale aus der äußeren Lernumwelt in die Organisation transferieren, heraus. Weiterhin wird die Hypothese aufgestellt, dass externe Schocks, die den Misserfolg der operativen Tätigkeit von Internationale Organisationen verdeutlichen und zu einer Krise führen, Umlernprozesse erleichtern und Möglichkeiten für Veränderung von kognitiven Strukturen schaffen, die Reform und Wandel bewirken.

Das entwickelte Modell wird in einem zweiten Schritt in einer Fallstudie auf die Analyse von Persistenz und Wandel von VN Friedensmissionen im Zeitraum von 1988- 2004 angewandt. In der Periode von 1988- 1995 werden umfassende Umweltveränderungen (z.B.: veränderte Macht- und Interessen-Konstellationen, neue Problemstellungen und Normwandel) identifiziert, die jedoch nicht zu den erforderlichen Lernprozessen im VN-Sekretariat führten. Die Komplexität der Lernumwelt, rigide kognitive Strukturen, Mangel an redundanten Ressourcen, sowie das Fehlen einer dominanten Koalition von reformwilligen Mitgliedsstaaten, werden als Lernhindernisse identifiziert. Erst nach dem dramatischen Scheitern von VN Friedensmissionen in Bosnien (1994) und Ruanda (1995) und einer daraus resultierenden Krise von VN- Missionen (1995- 1999), kam es zu umfangreichen Reformen, die auf den Empfehlungen des sogenannten Brahimi- Berichts (2000) basierten. Die Untersuchung des in diesen Reformen resultierenden Prozesses bestätigt die Plausibilität des vorgestellten Modells, da viele der entwickelten Mechanismen beobachtet werden können. Diese Arbeit veranschaulicht so ebenfalls die allgemeine Eignung von Konzepten des Organisationslernens in der Analyse von Persistenz und Wandel in Internationalen Organisationen und unterstreicht die Bedeutung interner Prozesse, die von den gängigen IB- Theorien ausgeblendet werden.

Fachgebiet (DDC)
320 Politik
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VN-Reform, Organisationslernen, Friedenserhaltende Maßnahmen, Brahimi, United Nations, Reform, Peacekeeping, Organizational Learning, International Organizations
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Zitieren
ISO 690BREUL, Rainer, 2005. Organizational Learning in International Organizations : the Case of UN Peace Operations [Master thesis]
BibTex
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  year={2005},
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  author={Breul, Rainer}
}
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