An Analysis of Legislative Staff in the European Parliament

Defence date:
27 March 2015

Research Question: How does the form of legislative assistance affect the functioning of the European Parliament?

Table of Contents


  • Investigation of legislative staff in the EP as an ensemble of actors (i.e. general secretariat officials, parliamentary group officials and personal staff of the members of EP) in the past and present (1952 to 2013).
  • Development of institutional design theory


The research question is dealt with in two empirical parts:

  • First, the project explains the form of legislative assistance in the EP, how it has emerged and changed between 1952 and 2013 (i.e. organisation of legislative assistance as the dependent variable). Assumptions are formulated on the basis of institutional design theory (i.e. rational, historical and sociological institutionalism).
  • Second, the dissertation investigates how the organisation of legislative assistance affects the behaviour of staff (i.e. legislative organisation as the independent variable). Based on organisation theory, I have tested the hypothesis that formal organisations affect the behaviour of staff.



  • Interviews with EP officials (N=29)
  • Original Survey Data
  • Archive Documents (Cardoc, Council of Europe, etc.)



  • On the example of legislative assistance, the dissertation shows that different logics (e.g. functionalism, isomorphism and path-dependency) can simultaneously affect the design of organisations. Thus, the dissertation argues in favour of complementary approaches in the study of institutions (Jupille et al. 2003)
  • Based on an investigation of 60 years of history, the research shows that some institutional changes are dependent on other institutional changes (i.e. change as an ordered process).
  • The design of legislative assistance in the EP resembles the system of national legislatures.
  • Controlling for demography and institutionalisation variables, the dissertation provides support for the hypothesis that formal organisation is a constraint on the behaviour of staff. Hence, the dissertation provides evidence for the instrumental nature of organisation. In practical terms this means that behaviour in the EP is not left to chance and that organisational reforms are likely to change how staff go about their work.