Destined to Fail? Why Do UN Integrated Missions Under-Perform?

Vallings, Claire (2015). Destined to Fail? Why Do UN Integrated Missions Under-Perform? PhD thesis The Open University.



UN integrated missions are frequently perceived as under-performing. This causes widespread frustration amongst UN staff, potentially wastes resources of UN member states, and arguably means that the international community is failing in its commitments to safeguard international peace and security. Using an analytical framework adapted from inter-organisational relations theory consisting of power dependency, resource dependency, environmental constraints and organisational learning, this thesis answers the question: why do UN integrated missions under-perform? The research examines two integrated mission case studies in depth, in Kosovo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A combination of research methods was used, including literature review, fieldwork, semi-structured interviews, observation, and document analysis. The research finds that there are political and administrative reasons why integrated missions under-perform. It also finds that there is limited organisational learning within the UN system which further prevents the improvement of integrated mission performance. Whilst staff in the integrated missions studied learn operational lessons and are able to make small-scale changes, wider, more fundamental change in how the UN carries out integrated missions does not occur. The obstacles lie in the role of UN member state interests overriding concern for quality of integrated mission performance, as well as in the administrative procedures of UN functioning. The UN is therefore institutionally prevented from implementing the lessons of its integrated mission experience. Integrated missions are not destined to fail but are instead destined only ever to under-perform.

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