The bureaucratic arms of modern international organizations increasingly consist of staff with ambiguous organizational affiliations. This article analyses implications of this trend from the perspective of the Representative Bureaucracy – using seconded national experts (SNEs) in the European Commission (Commission) as the empirical laboratory. Using a variety of datasets, we unveil Commission SNEs’ profiles (to assess their passive representativeness) and link these profiles to their role perceptions (to evaluate their potential for active representation). This illustrates that Commission SNEs’ background characteristics do not match those of their constituent population (i.e. the EU27 population) – suggesting a lack of passive representativeness. However, we also find that their role perceptions are correlated with the policy preferences of their home country population: i.e., SNEs from countries favoring stronger national rather than European regulatory and policy-making powers are more likely to see themselves as a representative of their home country government. This suggests a potential for active representation in terms of SNEs’ home country’s policy preferences.

Murdoch, Z., Trondal, J., & Geys, B. (2016). Representative bureaucracy and seconded national government officials in the European Commission. Regulation and Governance, 10(4), 335-349

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