Category: Research Grant

  • Organizational Structure and Agency Slack

    Organizational Structure and Agency Slack

    German Research Foundation (DFG) Funds Multi-Method Research Project on Organizational Structure and Agency Slack

    New DFG Project “International Bureaucracies as ‘Runaway Agents’? How Organizational Structure Affects Agency Slack”, Principal Investigator: Eugénia da Conceição-Heldt (TU Munich), 2018-2021

    Project Summary: “Over the past decades states have delegated extensive decision-making authority to the administrative bodies of international organizations. These international bureaucracies are setting agendas, participate in decision-making processes, implement policy programs, represent states in international organizations, create new regulatory agencies, and even settle disputes among states. Their gradual process of empowerment has been accompanied by an increase in oversight mechanisms, as member states, in some cases, considered that international bureaucracies had undertaken actions contrary to their intentions and overstepped their mandates (agency slack). Accordingly, international bureaucracies are sometimes portrayed as “runaway agents” that escaped the control of their principals (member states). This prompts a key question for research on international bureaucracies in global governance: under what conditions do secretariats of international organizations engage in agency slack – deviating from their mandate and acting in a way unintended by their principals?

    To address this question, this project takes a Multi-Method Research approach that is suited to test and further develop principal-agent theory. We employ fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis and fuzzy-set ideal type analysis for a systematic cross-case comparison and, subsequently, process-tracing for an in-depth study of selected international bureaucracies, each of which are analyzed for specific policies. We test our theoretical expectations on 27 international bureaucracies, where we gather data on four organizational characteristics: fragmentation, staffing rules, buffering, and permeability. The chosen approach will allow us to investigate necessary and sufficient conditions for the occurrence of agency slack, to identify underlying causal mechanisms, and to assess the plausibility of alternative explanations. The insights gained from the project will enable us to map different patterns of agency slack and explain under which organizational structures international bureaucracies act against their principals’ preferences. Showing how organizational structure matters by comparing different international bureaucracies will enrich principal-agent theory and help us bridge the gap between theoretical considerations and empirical work in the field.” [More Information] [DFG Gepris]

  • Parliaments in Security Policy

    Parliaments in Security Policy

    German Foundation for Peace Research (DSF) Supports Project on “Parliaments in Security Policy”

    Project Summary: The influence of parliaments on the formulation of security policy has found increasing interest in recent research. Importantly, comparative studies showed that consolidated democracies are characterized by substantial variance in the formal-institutional oversight powers of parliaments. While countries like the UK and France grant extensive powers to the executive, other countries, like Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, place military deployments under mandatory parliamentary approval. At the same time, however, research also shows that foreign policy outcomes cannot be attributed to the formal-institutional position of parliament alone. Instead, in order to explain specific policy decisions, additional factors such as party politics and ideology, parliamentary majorities, and public opinion need to be taken into account.

    Moreover, whether parliamentary control actually has the intended consequences is contested, not least from the perspective of democratic theory. In practice, even in countries which require parliamentary approval parliament rarely vetoes government decisions. Consensual cross-party decisions, however, make it difficult for voters to attribute decisions to specific political actors. This undermines the “election mechanism” prominent in democratic theory and arguments on the democratic peace. Another strand in the literature focuses on the effects of parliamentary oversight on the conduct of multilateral military operations. These studies show an increased incidence of national caveats through parliamentary oversight, i.e. there tend to be more operational restrictions, which can lead to substantial problems for the effectiveness of multilateral operations.

    Parallel to the academic debate, several western democracies witnessed an evaluation and reassessment of the relationship between the executive and parliament in terms of security policy. For instance, in Germany the current Bundestag introduced a commission to reassess parliamentary oversight procedures. In its policy recommendations, the commission suggested several options for reform, some of which would reduce existing oversight powers. In contrast, in Britain a cross-party consensus emerged in support of involving parliament in decisions on war, after the Iraq War was regarded as a failure by wide parts of the political elite and the public at large. Likewise, Spain introduced a parliamentary deployment law as a consequence of the decision to participate in Iraq. Finally, the United States saw several attempts at reforming the War Powers Resolution, which has remained contested among political actors since its introduction in 1973. During the present Congress alone, several reform initiatives were submitted but none of these passed into law.

    An authors’ workshop will take place on 22-23 September 2016 at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung), co-organized by Dirk Peters (PRIF) and Patrick A. Mello (HfP). The organizers gratefully acknowledge project funding of 11,000 EUR from the German Foundation for Peace Research (Deutsche Stiftung Friedensforschung) and financial and logistial support from the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt and the Bavarian School of Public Policy at TU Munich. The workshop is organized under the auspices of and in cooperation with the DVPW-Themengruppe Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik.

    Project summary, German Foundation for Peace Research (German and English).

    Program (PDF), Introduction (PDF)