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German Research Institute for Public Administration

The administrative styles of international organizations

Based on the increasing importance of international organizations for the political steering on national and international level, this project explores the scope of various administrative styles of international organizations and their effects on the configuration of international policies. The EU administration represents a significant part of the involved international organizations. The comparative policy analysis has emphized the administrations' crucial meaning for the political content and the configuration of political processes. The specific styles are substantial elements of administrative bodies, which involve both the political and administrative actors. The research analizes the significance of these administrative styles. Thereby, administrative styles are referred to policy initiative example (anticipatory versus reactive), modi of policy expression (incremental versus synoptical) and implementation methods (interventionist versus voluntarist). Their analysis is fundamental for the comparative analysis of policy processes, because they have a filter function and make viable some policy options in comparison to others. Administrative styles contribute also to explaining empirically the existing policy variations.

The previous research focused only on the styles of international administrations. Although, considering the particularities of international administrative styles, interesting theoretical and empirical questions are raising : in opposition to their national analogue, the international administrations show a short lifespan and a multitude of national effects. Thus, an important question is to know if the national styles shape the international administrations, if more or less functional combinations exist, or if it comes to the formation of autonomous international administrative style. Through the comparative analysis of organizational  characteristics and comparative case studies in three problem fields (water governance, finance crises management, migration), this project aims to : (1) constitute a global theoretical framework in order to explore the administrative styles ; (2) develop a theoretically leaded empirical approach in order to analyse the multitude of administrative styles employed within the international organizations ; (3) explain the variety of identified administrative styles, and, finally, (4) complete the case studies through selected issues.
This project belongs to the DFG-research group « International administration. Emergence and development of administrative patterns and their effects on international policy-making».

Senior Fellow

Prof. Dr. Stephan Grohs



DFG Research Unit "International Public Administration"