This project is part of the Research Unit „International Public Administration“ coordinated by Prof. Christoph Knill.
With the growing importance of international institutions for global governance, global politics becomes more and more global public policy-making. As we know from Comparative Public Policy, administrations contribute to a considerable degree to the contents and the modes of policy-making. Important drivers are the specific “styles” or “cultures” of policy-making, in which both political and administrative actors are involved. Our sub-project explores the relevance of various administrative styles in International Public Administrations (IPAs) and their relationship to certain international administrative patterns. Administrative styles refer to specific systems of policy initiation (anticipatory vs. reactive), policy formulation (incremental vs. synoptic), and modes of policy implementation (intervening vs. mediating). The study of administrative styles is important for comparative research on policy-making, as it can explain unanticipated variance in policy-making and implementation, the increased likelihood of selection for certain policy options, and the avoidance of other options.
There have only been a few contributions in international research on IPAs that have addressed these fundamental questions. Yet, the peculiarities of IPAs create several interesting puzzles for research: Contrary to their national counterparts, the lifespan of international organisations is rather short and is influenced by actors socialised in a variety of national traditions. Whether certain national styles can permeate the IPAs, whether more or less functional mixtures develop, and whether a new “global” administrative style is evolving all remain open questions. With a comparative approach to organisational characteristics and comparative case studies in three fields of action (climate change, management of fiscal crises, and regulation of child labour), this project aims to develop (1) a comprehensive theoretical framework for the study of administrative styles, (2) a theoretically guided empirical yardstick for the analysis of variations in administrative culture and styles of international bureaucracies, (3) an explanation for any observed patterns in administrative cultures and administrative styles across international bureaucracies, and (4) an in-depth study of a small number of carefully selected cases as a complement to this analysis.