The Challenges of Linking Pay and Promotion: Repeated Reforms of the European Commission Staff Appraisal Process

Carolyn Ban


In response to the 1999 crisis caused by the mass resignation of the European Commission, the Commission introduced a series of administrative reforms based in large part on New Public Management models.  A centerpiece of those reforms was a new staff appraisal process linking numeric ratings with promotions, which was designed explicitly to change the management culture of the Commission.  Of all parts of the reform, this was by far the most controversial.  This paper traces the long arc of reform, as the original reform was replaced with a second version that was even more rigid and complex, leading to a third reform, in 2012, which returned the Commission in large part to the status quo ante, abandoning numeric ratings and the formal link to promotions.  I analyze the reasons for the reforms and the problems and unintended consequences of each.  In conclusion, I link this saga of repeated reforms to the broader literature on the effectiveness of attempts to change organizational culture through formal structural reforms.


European Commission; administrative reform; pay for performance; organizational culture

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