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Bureaucratic influence and administrative styles in international organizations

Abstract

While a consensus seems to be emerging that bureaucracies of international organizations are of growing relevance for policy-making beyond the nation-state, we still do not systematically understand if and how exactly international bureaucracies seek to influence policy. Most importantly, there is a lack of concepts for a comparative assessment of bureaucratic influence across different International Organizations. This article addresses this shortcoming by offering a conceptualization of administrative styles. Depending on dominant strategic orientations shaping administrative routines, we identify four ideal types: a servant style, an advocacy style, a consolidator style, and an entrepreneurial style. We argue that the variation in administrative styles across different organizations can be explained by two factors, namely the internal and external challenges they face. The concept and theoretical explanation are illustrated in four case studies on the bureaucracies of the International Monetary Fund, the Bank for International Settlements, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Labor Organization.

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Notes

  1. A servant-style does not imply suboptimal performance or the complete absence of strategy (Boyne and Walker 2004: 240). Rather, IPAs do not strive to exert influence of their own in IO policy-making as they do not attempt to realize own objectives.

  2. Previous studies on the IMF have often put a heavy focus on the program work (i.e., lending), which is the only area of work were member state play a significantly more dominant role since it is their money that is being lent (Stone 2012). In contrast, our interviews focus on policy work of the IMF in order to be able to compare its activities with the other three international organizations in this paper.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the German Research Foundation under grant number KN 891/7-1. The authors would like to thank Dionys Zink for his research assistance and Yves Steinbach as well as two anonymous referees for their helpful comments.

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Correspondence to Christoph Knill.

Appendix

Appendix

Table 4 List of Interviewees

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Knill, C., Bayerlein, L., Enkler, J. et al. Bureaucratic influence and administrative styles in international organizations. Rev Int Organ 14, 83–106 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11558-018-9303-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11558-018-9303-x

Keywords

  • International public administrations
  • Bureaucratic influence
  • International organizations