Department of Political Science

Reputation and Organizational Politics: Inside the EU Commission

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This paper uses reputation theory to address a century-old puzzle: what guides the
choice of coordination efforts in large politico-administrative systems? Max Weber,
founder of the modern study of bureaucracy, famously considered a hierarchy superior
to other organizational models. However, modern governments are not organized as
one big hierarchy, but as a set of parallel hierarchies, typically 15-20 ministries. This
raises a coordination challenge, which in practice has proven surprisingly difficult to
meet. Based on reputation theory we argue that concerns of audience management
are important when deciding on the level of coordination. We investigate this argument in the European Union’s central executive institution, the EU Commission. Based on more than 7,000 cases from the EU Commission’s internal digital coordination system we analyze the impact of audience sensitivity and audience involvement on coordination efforts. Our findings suggest that audience concerns are important drivers of agencies’ interdepartmental coordination.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Politics
Pages (from-to)135-149
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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