Tag: research grant

  • Open Access Article Published in Global Studies Quarterly

    The July 2022 edition of ISA’s new open access journal Global Studies Quarterly features our article “When Do International Organizations Engage in Agency Slack? A Qualitative Comparative Analysis of United Nations Institutions” (with Eugénia Heldt, Anna Novoselova, and Omar Ramon Serrano Oswald). The article is based on research from our German Research Foundation project on “International Bureaucracies and Agency Slack” under DFG project number 370183851. Our study examines 16 UN organizations and the organizational characteristics under which agency slack occurs at these IOs, based on a qualitative coding of primary documents from the UN Joint Inspection Unit.

    Abstract: The extensive delegation of power to international organizations (IOs) has been accompanied by occasional agency slack. While prior studies suggest that IOs’ propensity for agency slack may be rooted in their organizational characteristics, this has rarely been explored empirically. To address this lacuna, in this article we propose a conceptualization and measurement of agency slack and develop a framework of organizational characteristics. Our empirical analysis applies qualitative comparative analysis to assess the conditions under which agency slack occurs across sixteen United Nations institutions. We complement the cross-case analysis with two case illustrations. Our results document the empirical existence of two paths to agency slack, providing confirmatory evidence for our theoretical expectations. Path 1 combines staffing rules that are favorable for the agent with wide access to third parties. Path 2 entails the combination of favorable staffing rules with extensive delegation of authority and a vague organizational mandate.

  • Open Access Article Published in Global Policy

    Persistence Against the Odds: How Entrepreneurial Agents Helped the UN Joint Inspection Unit to Prevail

    Global Policy published an open access article that draws on research from our DFG project on “International Bureaucracies and Agency Slack” (with Eugénia da Conceição-Heldt, Anna Novoselova, and Omar Ramon Serrano Oswald). The article “Persistence Against the Odds: How Entrepreneurial Agents Helped the UN Joint Inspection Unit to Prevail” draws on delegation theory and historical institutionalism to examine how and why the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) persisted despite witnessing several existential challenges to its survival.

    We thank current and former inspectors and officials of the United Nations System who were exceedingly generous with their time and resources. The interviews conducted were essential to the research for this article. We also acknowledge the generous support of the German Research Foundation under DFG project number 370183851. Open access funding was enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.

    Abstract: Since its inception in 1966, the United Nations Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) has prevailed in the face of significant existential challenges. Against this backdrop, we investigate how and why the JIU persisted over time. Combining delegation and historical institutionalist approaches, we posit that entrepreneurial agents and layering processes together help us better understand persistence of inter-national organizations. Based on semi-structured interviews with UN staff and JIU inspectors, we examine three critical junctures in the history of the JIU. Our results show that entrepreneurial agents and stakeholders in the JIU managed to avoid the closure or demotion of the JIU by engaging in a strategy of institutional layering. Our analysis, however, also demonstrates that the JIU survived at the price of losing its privilege as the central UN oversight body. These findings have implications for the study of international organizations and for the reform of the UN system at large.

  • DVPW-Tagung zu Methoden der Außenpolitikanalyse

    Photo: Universität Erfurt

    Methoden der Außenpolitikanalyse: Ansätze, Daten und Perspektiven

    Am 26. und 27. September 2019 findet im Internationalen Begegnungszentrum der Universität Erfurt die Tagung „Methoden der Außenpolitikanalyse: Ansätze, Daten und Perspektiven“ statt.

    Die Tagung wird von Dr. Patrick A. Mello, Gastwissenschaftler an der Willy Brandt School of Public Policy der Universität Erfurt und Dr. Falk Ostermann von der Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen gemeinsam organisiert und ausgerichtet im Rahmen der Themengruppe Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik der Deutschen Vereinigung für Politikwissenschaft (DVPW).

    Die theoriegeleitete Außenpolitikforschung (Foreign Policy Analysis) hat sich als eigenständiges Feld innerhalb der politikwissenschaftlichen Disziplin Internationale Beziehungen etabliert. Aus methodologischer Sicht fehlt bislang jedoch eine eingehendere Auseinandersetzung mit vorhandenen Ansätzen, zugrundeliegenden Daten und Entwicklungsperspektiven zur Erforschung von Außenpolitik. Für welche Forschungszwecke sind welche methodischen Ansätze geeignet und was sind die Voraussetzungen für deren Anwendung? Mit welchen qualitativen und quantitativen Daten arbeitet die Außenpolitikanalyse und wie wirkt sich die technologische Entwicklung auf die Datengewinnung aus? Und welche Perspektiven bestehen für die weitere Entwicklung des vorhandenen Methodenspektrums?

    Im Rahmen der Tagung (Programm) soll diesen Fragen über fünf Panels und 16 Beiträge nachgegangen werden. Abgedeckt werden dabei so unterschiedliche Themen wie Narrativanalyse, Big Data und Social Media, Normen und Diskurs, quantitative und vergleichende Ansätze als auch historische und pragmatische Ansätze.

    Die Tagung wird durch die Willy Brandt School of Public Policy und die Forschungsförderung der Universität Erfurt unterstützt.

    Die Veranstaltung steht allen Interessierten offen. Aufgrund der begrenzten Plätze wird um vorherige Anmeldung unter aussenpolitik2019@mailbox.org gebeten.

  • ECPR Joint Sessions, Mons 2019

    ECPR Joint Sessions, Mons 2019

    47th ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops at UCL Mons, Belgium

    From 8-12 April 2019, UCL Mons hosted the 47th ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops. I took part in the workshop “Formal and Informal Intergovernmental Organisations in Time: Explaining Transformations in Global Governance”, chaired by Eugénia Heldt (TU Munich) and Duncan Snidal (University of Oxford). The three-day workshop featured 22 research papers from 27 contributors from the USA, Australia, and all across Europe.

    Our research team presented first empirical results from the ongoing DFG project “International Bureaucracies as ‘Runaway Agents’? How Organizational Structure Affects Agency Slack” (2018-2021, grant volume 488.000 €), based on a paper co-authored with Eugénia Heldt, Omar Ramon Serrano Oswald, and Anna Novoselova (all from the Bavarian School of Public Policy, TU Munich).

    Details on the DFG research project can be found here. For Information on the ECPR Joint Sessions in Mons see this link.

  • 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)