International Public Administration on the Tip of the Tongue: Language as a Feature of Representative Bureaucracy in the Economic Community of West African States

Zuzana Murdoch*, Magali Gravier, Stefan Gänzle

*Corresponding author for this work

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Recent scholarship shows increasing interest in gender, ethnic or national representation within regional and international organizations. In contrast, language as a criterion of representation has rarely been scrutinized. We argue that this constitutes an important oversight for two reasons: (1) language is an important identity marker; and (2) language regimes in international public administrations can uniquely address representativeness relative to both member states and groups of citizens. Our article explores language representation in the Economic Community of West African States, and pursues a twofold objective: first, it extends the applicability of representative bureaucracy theory to the issue of language; and, second, it broadens the scope of representative bureaucracy studies by providing the first study on a prominent West African regional organization. As such, we develop avenues for future research on other regional and international organizations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Administrative Sciences
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1086-1104
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: January 27, 2021.


  • Economic Community of West African States
  • Language
  • Regional organizations
  • Representative bureaucracy

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