Department of Political Science

Daniel Finke

Turf wars in government administration: Interdepartmental cooperation in the European Commission

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One challenge for government administration is to reap the benefits of specialization while minimizing its negative side effects. In this article, I study the factors that motivate departments to contribute to the joint formulation of public policies. I derive testable hypotheses that discriminate between two competing motivations for interdepartmental cooperation. If department managers are concerned for the quality of public policy, I expect cooperation to be efficient. If, by contrast, departments compete for administrative turf, I expect cooperation to be inefficient and resources to be wasted. I test those hypotheses by studying all policy proposals adopted and published by the European Commission between 2015 and 2017—a total of approximately 4,000 cases. For politically salient proposals, I find that departments are more likely to contribute if they expect competing departments to become active, too. By contrast, the preparation of technical, non‐salient proposals is left to the most specialized departments. Overall, my findings suggest that interdepartmental cooperation in the European Commission is significantly motivated by DGs' competition for administrative turf.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Administration
Pages (from-to)498-514
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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