Course 2018-2019 a.y.


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
CLMG (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - M (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - IM (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - MM (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - AFC (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - CLEFIN-FINANCE (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - CLELI (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - ACME (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - DES-ESS (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  12 credits SECS-P/07) - EMIT (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - GIO (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  12 credits SECS-P/07)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Class-group lessons delivered  on campus

Mission & Content Summary


International Institutions (IIs) have been traditionally studied under the perspective of International Relations, Political Sciences and International Law. The shift towards a managerial model in IIs has been envisaged since the late 80s’ and progressively put in action by organizations. In many areas - strategy, result-based management, human resources management, financial management- management reforms, systems and tools in international organizations seem to have applied general principles of New Public Management and lessons learned from the corporate environment, not always with a specific attention to adapt tools and systems to IIs’ specificities. International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) are achieving greater importance within the IOs’ environment and within the technical cooperation “industry”. This course takes into consideration the different families of IIs but focuses mainly on UN system, as a unique subject of observation, and on the INGOs. Some insights are also offered about other important non profit actors, such as Global Foundations, and new hybrid actors, such as Global Public-Private Partnerships. Drawing from the peculiarities of the IIs and INGOs in terms of governance, staff profile and operations, this course responds to the need to identify a “tailored” approach for management systems and tools to be adopted by International public and non-profit organizations and shapes the concept of “management” around them.


  1. The first lectures of the course sets the context of the international organizations, clarifying the notion of International Institution and categorizing the main actors of the international cooperation and development industry (IIs and INGOs) in “families”. The focus then shifts on the analysis of the United Nations system, composed of different kind of organizations and with strongly specific governance systems, both at the level of single organizations and of the UN system as a whole. To this extent, the case study of WHO is presented and discussed with the purpose of letting participants understand the complexity of governance that regulate the functioning of a UN system specialized agency.
  2. The following lectures address the challenges of the interactions between the UN system and the corporate sector, focusing also on development cooperation: this part of the course approaches the main strategic frameworks and declarations that ld and lead the IIs’ intervention (Millennium Development Goals, Paris Declaration, Agenda 2030) and offer an overview of the main issues related to interagency coordination and management of field projects. This allows participants to appreciate the specificities of project cycle management in the development industry. Furthermore, a specific lecture is focused on the management of organizations’ profile (stakeholder, communication, resource mobilization and branding).
  3. The focus of the course then expands to include the International Financial Institutions (IMF, World Bank, Regional Development Banks) as well as the other relevant families of IIs and INGOs. An overview of the managerial reforms, tools and systems in IIs then is provided: the main management functions, such as financial management, HR management, stakeholders management, profile management and branding, field operations’ management, management control, performance measurement- here is taken into consideration, with regards to both the activity of IIs and INGOs.
  4. Lastly, the course addresses the growingly important issues of ethics and accountability for mission driven organizations and their executives.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...

Understand the complexity and richness of the UN system as a whole, distinguish roles and governance, functioning and operational mechanisms of Funds, Programmes and Specialized Agencies, as well as of International Non Governmental Organizations, and other private and public-private global actors.


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Identify different families of IOs and elaborate on their peculiarities in terms of operational and institutional nature.
  • Make comparisons between UN system organizations, other IIs and INGOs in terms of operating and governance mechanisms.
  • Deal with governance and management issues across the field of International Organizations.
  • Understand the current challenges and open issues of the managerial reforms in IIs and INGOs.
  • Appreciate the complexity and the need for a tailored approach to management in IIs and INGOs.
  • Identify and apply the strategic frameworks and distinctive features of management in development cooperation.
  • Understand how IIs and INGOs operate on the field.
  • Identify and address the main issues of Ethics and Accountability from an IOs standpoint.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)
  • Interactive class activities (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)


This course is heavily case-study based. One of the objectives of the course is to make students able to develop and apply their critical thinking in relation to management reforms and tools in IIs and INGOs.

Students regularly attending classes are expected to read materials and business cases in advance; the respect of this “golden rule” will determine their ability to follow discussions and presentations held in class. This is a highly participatory and business case-based course. Therefore, class attendance is strongly encouraged.

Students attending less than 75% of the classes will be considered as "non-attending".

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  x x
  • Active class participation (virtual, attendance)


For students regularly attending the course in class, final grade for this course is based on a midterm exam and a final exam, both composed of multiple-choice questions only, based on the contents of the lectures and discussions in class, presentations and all the mandatory readings indicated in this syllabus. Further readings will not be assessed.


For students not regularly attending the course in class (less than 75% of attendance)  final grade for this course is based on final written examination (100%) composed of open-ended as well as multiple choice questions, based on mandatory readings, presentations and further readings listed in this syllabus and uploaded on the e-learning.

Teaching materials


  • Mandatory readings: E. MISSONI, D. ALESANI, Management of International Organizations, Routledge, 2014.
  • Further readings: articles and other materials uploaded on the e-learning platform with the syllabus and during the course.


  • Mandatory readings: E. MISSONI, D. ALESANI, Management of International Organizations, Routledge, 2014.
  • Articles and other materials uploaded on the e-learning platform with the syllabus and during the course.
Last change 23/04/2019 15:09