Unpacking international organisations

The dynamics of compound bureaucracies

This book introduces international bureaucracy as a key field of study for public administration and also rediscovers international bureaucracy as an essential ingredient in the study of international organizations. Firstly, the book systematically compares behavioural dynamics within a carefully selected number of international bureaucracies. The focus is on studying these dynamics within international bureaucracies at the actor level - that is, by studying the behaviour and roles as perceived by the officials themselves. The book outlines a conceptual map of four generic behavioural dynamics that are likely to be evoked by these officials: intergovernmental, supranational, departmental and epistemic dynamics. Essentially, the Westphalian international order dominated by the intergovernmental dynamic is challenged to the extent that international bureaucracies embed supranational, departmental and epistemic dynamics in everyday decision-making processes. Admittedly, there are no guarantees that these dynamics always materialise in the actors' behaviour and ultimately in the decisions reached by international organisations. However, they serve as cognitive and normative frames for action, rendering it more likely than not that particular decision-making dynamics are associated with certain behavioural patterns. Secondly, the book illuminates some causal factors that may help to explore the conditions under which different behavioural dynamics are manifested in the behavioural and role perceptions of the incumbents of international bureaucracies. Essentially, the authors do not propose to 'test' the four dynamics outlined above in a rigorous manner. They serve more as 'searchlights for illuminating empirical patterns in our data'.

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