European administrative centre formation. Lessons from international bureaucracies

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Series Details Vol.10, No.1, February 2012 p86-110
Publication Date February 2012
ISSN 1472-4790
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The strengthening of administrative powers is comprehensively documented within national governments. This article asks to what extent centre formation also happens within international bureaucracies. Based on a large body of data (N=121) within three international bureaucracies, this study adds two new observations:

First, administrative centre formation is primarily observed inside the European Commission and only marginally within other international bureaucracies – such as the OECD and WTO Secretariats. Moreover, within the Commission, centre formation is primarily observed at the administrative centre (the General Secretariat) and only marginally within bureaucratic sub-units. Concomitantly, administrative centre formation, when observed, does not seem to profoundly penetrate and transform international bureaucracies writ large.

Second, variation in centre formation both across and within international bureaucracies is associated with two often neglected variables in comparative government literature: (i) first, the accumulation of relevant organisational capacities at the executive centre, and second, the vertical and horizontal specialisation of international bureaucracies.

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