Bureaucratic Change in the European Administrative Space: The Case of the European Commission
West European Politics, 2008
Posted: 7 Jan 2019
Date Written: June 19, 2008
In this article, we compare bureaucratic change in the European Commission with developments in the public administrations of the member states of the European Union using two standard features of the study of comparative public administration: the degree of politicisation of the higher management and the degree of openness of the career system. The empirical data shows that the Commission started as a public administration in the Continental tradition and over time partially moved towards the Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian models. At the same time, the majority of the member states remained rather stable with regard to their position along the two administrative dimensions under study. We argue that none of the mechanisms commonly invoked to explain organisational change — functional adaptation, path dependency, isomorphism or policy windows — can convincingly account for the complete pattern and the magnitude of change that we observe in the case of the European Commission. While we find no convincing support for the relevance of functional adaptation or path dependency, the concepts of isomorphism and policy windows provide a more promising basis for understanding at least some aspects of the empirical development.
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