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Edoardo Ongaro, Dario Barbieri, Nicola Bellé and Paolo Fedele

The chapter furnishes empirical evidence about the extent and profiles of autonomy of EU agencies, the modalities whereby they are steered and controlled, and the…

Abstract

Purpose

The chapter furnishes empirical evidence about the extent and profiles of autonomy of EU agencies, the modalities whereby they are steered and controlled, and the interactions they have in EU policy networks. It thus provides the bases for a more complete picture of the EU multi-level administration.

Methodology/approach

The research is a survey-based design. A questionnaire was administered between July 2009 and April 2010 to 30 EU agencies included in the study population. The questionnaire was sent to the executive director of all the agencies included in the study. Questions were closed-ended, either in the form of multiple choices – with one answer or with check-all-that-apply and an option for ‘other’ to be filled – or in scale format. The resulting data set included ratio, interval, ordinal, and nominal scales. The reference model employed for the investigation relies on the analytical model developed within the framework of the research project COST Action IS0651 CRIPO (Comparative Research into Current Trends in Public Sector Organization – see also ‘Acknowledgements’) for the study of public agencies in Europe (Verhoest, Van Thiel, Bouckaert, & Lægreid, 2012).

Findings

EU agencies display a rather low level of managerial, especially financial, autonomy; conversely, they enjoy relatively high policy autonomy. As to the way in which multiple ‘parent’ administration steer EU agencies, it emerges a composite picture, in which the crossroads of steering and control by the parent administrations and accountability by the agency lies in the executive director. In terms of interactions within policy networks, EU agencies interact in a significant way with the European Commission, with national-level agencies in the pertinent policy field, and with specific technical bodies where they are part of the configuration of the policy sector, whilst interactions with national ministries as well as with other EU agencies are rare. No single model can capture in full the overall features of EU agencies, although the ‘community level institution’ model seems to capture a number of the profiles of these agencies.

Research implications

Both the literature on EU multi-level administration and research agendas in public management can benefit from inclusion of – and in-depth empirical knowledge about – EU agencies. The chapter provides important empirical evidence to these purposes.

Practical/social implications

EU agencies are actors in European public policy-making, albeit to a varied extent depending on the sector. The extent of autonomy and the way in which they are held to account are crucial aspects for an enhanced understanding of their influence on European public policy-making, as is their location in European policy networks.

Originality/value

Research presented in this chapter is the first systematic empirical investigation of EU agencies encompassing networking, steering and control and autonomy of EU agencies, based on primary data.

Details

Multi-Level Governance: The Missing Linkages
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-874-8

Keywords

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Article

Jarle Trondal

The aim of this article is threefold: the primary aim is conceptual by outlining two ideal-typical ideas about organizational life. These models offer rival ideas about…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this article is threefold: the primary aim is conceptual by outlining two ideal-typical ideas about organizational life. These models offer rival ideas about how organizations balance seemingly conflicting patterns of behaviour and change in everyday life. The second ambition of the article is to outline a theoretical approach of organizational life arguing that even fairly loosely coupled organizations may be profoundly patterned by everyday routines as much as by ambiguity. The third and final ambition is to offer empirical illustrations from organizations that are often considered as archetypes of loose coupling and ambiguities: jazz orchestras and university organizations. The empirical discussion, however, illustrates that behaviour and change in these organizations are coined by routines and rules.

Design/methodology/approach

Two common dynamics often observed in organizations are highlighted: first, organizations viewed as sets of formal structures and routines that systematically bias organizational performance and change, and secondly, organizations as loosely coupled structures that enable improvisation with respect to organizational performance and change. How organizations live with and practice such seemingly contradictory dynamics is empirically illuminated in two types of organizations that are seldom analysed in tandem – university organizations and jazz orchestras. Drawing on contemporary research on these seemingly contradictory laboratories of organizational analysis, some observations are highlighted that indeed are common to both types of organizations. Furthermore, it is argued that lessons may be drawn from organizations where turbulence is common and where seemingly un-organized processes are quite regular. University organizations and jazz orchestras represent such types of organizations.

Findings

First, the degree of ambiguity in organizations is a matter of degree, not an either/or, and that the uncertainty and spontaneity observed in organizational behaviour and change is more patterned than often assumed (see Heimer and Stinchcombe, 1999; Strauss, 1979). As such, organization theory may be a useful extension of the garbage can model, suggesting that streams in decision-making processes may be systematically pre-packed and patterned by the availability of access and attention structures (Cohen et al., 1976). Secondly, scholarship in organizational studies needs to do away with over-simplistic dichotomies when facing complex realities. This challenge is equal for studies of public sector organizations as for scholarship in business and management. Organization studies often face the tyranny of conceptual dichotomies (Olsen, 2007). This article suggests that the distinction between loose and tight coupling in organizations, as between improvisation and pre-planned activities in organizations, face the danger of shoehorning complex data into simple categories. Originality/value – How organizations live with and practice seemingly contradictory dynamics is empirically illuminated in two types of organizations that are seldom analysed in tandem in organizational studies – university organizations and jazz orchestras. These conflicting organizational dynamics pinpoint one classical dilemma in university and jazz life beleaguered on the inherent trade-off between instrumental design and the logic of hierarchy on the one hand, and individual artistic autonomy and professional neutrality on the other. “[T]he purpose of developing the jazz metaphor is to draw out the collaborative, spontaneous and artful aspects of organizing in contradiction to the engineered, planned and controlled models that dominate modern management thoughts” (Hatch, 1999, p. 4). This dilemma highlights competing understandings of organizational life, of institutional change, and of what the pursuit of organizational goals ultimately entails.

Details

International Journal of Organizational Analysis, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1934-8835

Keywords

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Book part

Maximilian Nagel and B. Guy Peters

Much analysis considering the putative political challenges of the European Union (EU) has focussed on the (lack of) participation and identifications of European…

Abstract

Much analysis considering the putative political challenges of the European Union (EU) has focussed on the (lack of) participation and identifications of European citizens. But what about the bureaucrats working on their behalf? This contribution will address the issue of representative bureaucracy and identification in the EU, specifically in the European Commission. While the literature on representativeness of public administration has focussed on issues of social class, ethnicity and gender, it is also important to consider geographical representativeness. This is particularly important when region (in this case of the EU nations) is relevant. As the authors point out, this question is all the more relevant given the assumption that individuals who join the Commission will identify with Europe more than their home country. Yet, at a time of ongoing discussions about a crisis of the EU and in the midst of populist governments, such an assumption is at least questionable. While it is difficult to assess the extent to which decision-making may be influenced by nationality, at least understanding patterns of representation can be important for understanding how passive – if not active – representation functions. The formal emphasis on representative bureaucracy within the EU raises several potential conflicts with other important principles of public management. It also creates a conflict with the fundamental commitment to creating transnational personnel who eschew strong attachments to nation states.

Details

Political Identification in Europe: Community in Crisis?
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-125-7

Keywords

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