This article analyses the transformation of European commissioners’ private offices (cabinets) from national enclaves to supporting offices. Structural changes were caused by a reform by then-Commission President Prodi in 1999. To analyse this reform, a typology based on management literature is developed. The reform is characterised as ‘big bang’: it was strategically planned by a leader, transformational and affected the entire cabinet system. The most important measures were that at least three nationalities and three Commission officials were required in cabinets. These and other measures anticipated changing demands towards cabinets caused by the 2004/7 enlargement and the Kinnock reforms. This article closes a gap in research on the Commission, in which cabinets are seldom analysed in their own right. It complements earlier evidence on change in cabinets by explaining why and how structural changes evoked a functional transformation. This contributes to the broader research agenda on change in the functioning of the Commission. Content analysis of primary sources (Prodi’s speeches and publications, expert interviews and a biographic database) and recent academic publications contribute to the analysis.
European Commission, Organisational Change, Reform, Cabinets, Kinnock Reforms, Enlargement
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