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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Gender mainstreaming strategies in the international development context : why practice has not made perfect. Lukatela, Ana Stephanie


The literature surrounding international organizations and policy cycles has overwhelmingly focused on the dynamics of why policies are adopted to the detriment of asking why they are or are not translated into implementation. This study asks first, what factors explain the differences in adoption and implementation of gender mainstreaming policies in international development organizations, and second, what these dynamics tell us about the reasons for the persistence of such policies in the face of recognized failure. Research was conducted on case studies of UN agencies in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. The findings argue that policy is better studied as a non-linear process where each stage is influenced by different mechanisms emerging from the policy context. Policy adoption depends on the overarching influence of world culture on the attitudes and behaviors of relevant senior management actors who are part of the world polity. However it is also contingent on the dynamics of bureaucratic politics, which can be either personality or policy driven, and can either block policymaking or be used as a tool to overcome differences. The dynamics of implementation on the other hand rely much more on the norms and values of middle management than research up to now has recognized. However for implementation to happen norms are a necessary but not always sufficient factor; they must be paired with organizational behavior protocols that can support implementation among those who are passive towards the relevant norm and there must be ways to sanction programme managers who oppose it. So the support of senior management may be a necessary condition for policy implementation but it is far from sufficient. This study represents a break from the typical IR approach of using one theoretical argument to explain an entire phenomenon and reasserts the importance of opening up the black box of organizations to examine actors at different levels and their interactions. Improving the success of mainstreaming policies, such as gender, HIV/AIDS or the environment ultimately depends on recognizing these mechanisms and addressing the previously underestimated role of middle management.

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