Resource or danger? On the Ambivalence of Internal Critique in International Organizations

Ben Christian's dissertation project investigates the question of how international organizations (IOs) deal with the internal critique of their employees. The starting point of the project is the observation that IOs face a dilemma with regard to "critique from within": On the one hand, internal criticism is an important resource for organizational learning processes, enabling IOs to learn from mistakes and thus develop further. On the other hand, internal criticism is also a danger for IOs, since it reveals the often existing discrepancy between formulated goals and concrete practice and thus threatens the existence of the organization. How are IOs dealing with this ambivalence of internal critique? In which situations is internal criticism promoted, when is it suppressed? And: How could a constructive dealing with "critique from within" in IOs look like? An explorative case study including field research in the Secretariat of the United Nations serves as an empirical basis for an intensive engagement with these and other questions. Organizational sociology, practice theory and work on the "sociology of critique" provide the theoretical framework for the analysis.