Conflict and Continuity in European Diplomatic Cultures: Evidence from the European External Action Service

Saturday, April 16, 2016
Aria B (DoubleTree by Hilton Philadelphia Center City)
Thomas E. Henökl , German Development Institute, University of Agder
The paper takes the EU’s new, hybrid foreign policy administration as a laboratory for study and examines the structures and processes of communication and coordination, as well as emerging patterns of cooperation and conflict at work within the organization.

Whereas research frequently focuses on the institutional macro-context and actor constellations at the political level, this study puts the emphasis on interaction patterns and the particular roles of decision makers within public administrations to identify the particular structures, processes, dynamics and the consequences of organizational reform.

The point of departure is the question of whether and how new forms of transnational administrations provide the opportunity to re-combine diverse practices stemming from different institutional provenance, professional backgrounds, traditions, cultures, cognitive dispositions and behavioral logics, routines and ‘ways of doing things’. The research aims to pinpoint how such processes unfold, and why the adaptation of and/or the emergence of new patterns of behaviour contributes to institutional innovation, but also to the introduction of ambivalence as to rules and roles. Beyond that, this line of investigation may benefit our understanding of increasing fluidity and blurring of boundaries between the fields of international relations and public policy.

Empirically, the study draws on interview and survey data from EU foreign policy makers (Total N=232), and finds that despite institutional resilience and continuity, the confluence of and conflicts between diplomatic and organizational cultures leads to behavioral innovation as a result of the need to deal with ambiguities and to replace practices that have ‘gone out of use’.