Explaining International Organizations’ Mission Creep: How international Bureaucrats Shape Bioethics


  • Project leads: Annabelle Littoz-Monnet
  • Timeline: September 2017 – August 2020
  • Research Assistants: Ceren Bulduk, Xinyu Yuan



How do international bureaucrats expand their missions in new policy areas? This project tests the hypothesis that international mission creep is best explained by the role of bureaucratic entrepreneurs who can steer bureaucratic action. To this effect, they use specific strategies: mobilization of internal or external expertise and mobilization of interests.

The theoretical framework is applied to the case of bioethics, in which the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and to a lesser extent the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), have expended their missions and their ability to enact independent policies to various degrees.

The project contributes to our understanding of the mechanisms of international bureaucratic expansion, the role of bureaucrats as policy-makers and entrepreneurs, and their ability to steer policy action in given directions.


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