Kissack, Robert (2009) Assessing EU Performance in the ILO: Preliminary sketches of a feasible methodology. In: UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)
The paper is a preliminary sketch of a larger research project assessing the performance of the European Union (EU) in the International Labour Organization (ILO), submitted to the European Social Foundation in March 2009. The focus is primarily on identifying the relevant actors, policy domains, the interaction effects between them, and a variety of research questions, rather than on presenting a comprehensive theoretical argument. Nevertheless, through the elaboration of the research design two hypotheses emerge, one concerning the nature of the EU as an actor, the other concerning the impact of the EU in the ILO. The first hypothesis is that the performance of the EU cannot be understood without understanding the roles played by diplomats and practitioners upstream (Brussels) and downstream (Geneva) in the coordination process. Predictive (positivist) theories based on rational choice modelling or power and influence do not provide adequate explanatory frameworks, and instead historical and sociological institutional theories that focus on individual actors within institutional settings yield insightful results. The second hypothesis is that EU performance – broadly understood to be its ability to translate a set of EU policy objectives into policy outputs by the ILO – is potentially detrimental to the overall objectives of the ILO in many policy domains. Rather than confirming widely shared assertions that the EU and ILO are highly compatible social partners, the opposite is proposed. In the event that this hypothesis is shown to be valid, the assessment of EU performance becomes considerably harder because of the need to assess the net performance of the EU against its detrimental effects on the ILO.
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