ARENA Tuesday Seminar: Johan Christensen

Johan Christensen from Stanford University presented the paper 'Recruitment and expertise in the European Commission' at the ARENA Tuesday Seminar on 25 November 2014.


The paper examines the changes in the European Commission’s recruitment practices from its creation in the 1950s until today. Based on the insight that recruitment shapes the role of professional experts in public bureaucracies, the paper traces the emphasis on specialist skills and qualifications in the Commission’s recruitment competitions (the concours) over time. It finds that the selection of policy staff to the Commission has become more generalist since the 1960s, a surprising finding given that the organization is often regarded as a ‘technocracy’ dominated by experts. The paper attributes this development to the multinational character of the administration, as the need to integrate citizens from new member states has prompted the Commission to rely on one-size-fits-all recruitment tests. It also discusses whether the declining emphasis on specialist knowledge in staff selection can be seen as part of a broader trend towards a more generalist Commission, where officials are required to change jobs frequently and where expert functions are outsourced to other bodies.

Download the paper (restricted access)

Please note that this paper is work in progress and thus has limited distribution, please contact us if you would like access. Do not cite without permission from the author.

Published Oct. 1, 2014 3:15 PM - Last modified Apr. 11, 2019 10:37 AM