The Role of International Organizations in Social Policy

The Role of International Organizations in Social Policy

Ideas, Actors and Impact

Edited by Rune Ervik, Nanna Kildal and Even Nilssen

This book considers the role of international organizations and their promotion of ideas and recommendations in social and health policy. It explores a wide range of organizations, scrutinizing their ideas-based content, their role as policy actors and their impact on national policy.

Chapter 8: In Search of a New Approach to Pension Policy: The International Labour Office between Internal Tension and External Pressure

Remi Maier-Rigaud

Subjects: social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


Remi Maier-Rigaud INTRODUCTION For decades, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has been one of the major players in global social policy. Today, facing the increasing openness of markets and transboundary trade, the ILO’s labour standards policy has become even more important to set a social framework for economic globalization. Against this background, the policy field of social security seems at first to have “clearly taken a backseat to labour legislation” (Maydell 1994, p. 507) within the ILO. Yet, ensuring adequate social security is still one of the organization’s long-term goals, notably pursued by its Social Security Department. In this chapter, the search of the International Labour Office’s (ILo)1 Social Security Department for a new approach to pension policy is analysed. The search coincides with a substantial restructuring of the Department in 2005. The goal of this organizational reform was to level the hierarchies. The first hypothesis of this chapter is that this organizational reform also enabled a reconciliation of different, partly rivalling policy traditions. Therefore, it is asked whether the new organizational structure can be interpreted as an attempt to reach a consolidated approach to social security. Such a finding would support the general view that changes in the organizational structure of a bureaucracy reflect a shift in policy orientation. This leads to the second hypothesis, that staff members or branches who have gained relative power due to the restructuring are likely to be more influential regarding the policy direction of the new Department. The third and final hypothesis...

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