Resource or Threat? On the Ambivalence of Internal Criticism in International Organizations
Ben Christian's dissertation project investigates the question of how international organizations (IOs) deal with the internal criticism of their employees. With regard to “criticism from within”, IOs face a dilemma: On one hand, internal criticism is an important resource for organizational learning processes, enabling IOs to prevent failures and deliver better results. On the other hand, internal criticism can also pose a serious threat to the external reputation as well as to the internal stability of IOs, uncovering the inevitable discrepancies between organizational talk and action. How are IOs dealing with this ambivalence of internal criticism? In which situations is internal criticism promoted, when is it suppressed? And: How could a constructive dealing with “criticism from within” in IOs look like? An explorative case study on “organizational learning” in the UN Secretariat serves as an empirical basis for addressing these and other questions. Organizational sociology, practice theory and the "sociology of critique" provide the theoretical framework for the analysis.