Bureaucratic structure, geographical location and the autonomy of administrative systems. Evidence from the European External Action Service

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Henökl, Thomas ; Trondal, Jarle (2013)
  • Publisher: Department of Political Science and Management, University of Agder
  • Journal: (issn: 1893-2347)
  • Subject: political science

Presentation on department page: http://www.uia.no/no/portaler/om_universitetet/oekonomi_og_samfunnsvitenskap/statsvitenskap_og_ledelsesfag/ forskning_isl/isl_working_papers_series Formulating and implementing public policy in Europe has historically been a prerogative of national administrations. This paper explores how these prerogatives may have become challenged with the ‘autonomization’ of the European Union’s (EU’s) foreign affairs administration (The European External Action Service (EEAS)). The ambition of this paper is two-fold: First, to assess how independent EEAS personnel are when making decisions, thus measuring actor-level autonomy. Secondly, to account for actor-level autonomy by applying two key variables in administrative sciences: bureaucratic structure and geographical location of administrative systems. Benefiting from two new data sets, a survey and elite interviews of EEAS officials, two empirical observations are highlighted. First, EEAS officials demonstrate considerable behavioural independence even against attempts from member-state governments to restrain this. Secondly, the behavioural autonomy of EEAS staff is explained primarily with reference to the supply of organizational capacities inside the EEAS and less by the geographical location of staff. Thus, the bureaucratic structure of the EEAS serves to safeguard bureaucratic autonomy in EU’s new foreign affairs administration. By comparison, the geographical location of EEAS staff is a relatively weak, albeit not absent, signifier of behavioural autonomy.
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