Is the Commission all that different? Reflections on comparative international bureaucracies

Jarle Trondal

in An Emergent European Executive Order

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199579426
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722714 | DOI:
Is the Commission all that different? Reflections on comparative international bureaucracies

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Chapter 6 poses the question: Is the Commission all that different compared to other international bureaucracies? This chapter unpacks the executive arms—the bureaucratic interior—of international organizations, and does so comparatively. By comparing the Commission with other international bureaucracies, the often‐claimed sui generis picture of the Commission is modified. The Commission is unique by its size, formal powers, political representation at top of the hierarchy, and by its profound impacts on domestic politics and policies. However, the Commission also shares important characteristics with other international bureaucracies—both with respect to organizational structures and actual decision‐making dynamics. This chapter argues that international bureaucracies are compound systems that blend departmental, epistemic, and supranational decision‐making dynamics. Even international bureaucracies embedded in intergovernmental organizations—like the WTO and OECD—seem to transcend intergovernmentalism in everyday decision‐making processes. The decision‐making dynamics within international bureaucracies seems to occur rather independently of the larger international organization in which they are embedded. This chapter advocates that international bureaucracies seem to share important decision‐making dynamics due to organizational characteristics of the international bureaucracies themselves.

Keywords: Compound; European Commission; international bureaucracy; OECD Secretariat; organizational characteristics; WTO Secretariat

Chapter.  5982 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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