Taking the EU’s hybrid foreign policy administration, the European External Action Service (EEAS) as a laboratory for study, this article examines the changing structures and processes of communication and coordination as well as various patterns of cooperation and conflict within the organization. Whereas research frequently focuses on foreign policy making at the national level and actors at the political level, I here want to zoom in on emerging practices and the role understanding of administrators within the EEAS in order to identify the dynamics and the consequences of organizational reform. In short, the article explores the emerging European diplomatic practices.
The argument starts from the assumption that new forms of transnational administrations provide the opportunity to re-combine diverse cultures stemming from different institutional origins, professional backgrounds, traditions, cognitive dispositions and behavioural logics, routines and ‘ways of doing things’. The emphasis is put on how such processes unfold, and why the adaptation of and the emergence of new patterns of behaviour contribute, at the same time, to institutional innovation and ambivalence. 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 behavioural innovation as a result of the need to deal with ambiguities and to replace practices that have ‘gone out of use’.European Foreign Affairs Review