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Course 2019-2020 a.y.


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31

CLELI (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Class-group lessons delivered  on campus

Mission & Content Summary

International organizations (IOs) have been traditionally studied from the perspective of international relations, political science and international law. The shift towards a managerial model in IOs has been envisaged since the late 1980s, and progressively put into action. In many areas (strategy, result-based management, human resources management, financial management), IOs’ managerial approaches have applied principles of New Public Management and corporate management, not always by adapting tools and systems to IOs’ specificities. Consequently, since the early-1990s, the managerial perspective has assumed growing importance, due to the call for greater efficiency and effectiveness and for improved transparency and accountability coming from the member-states and other stakeholders. This course takes a managerial approach towards key areas of global organizing: the United Nations (UN) system, international financial institutions, global public-private partnerships, international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), and global foundations.


The course is structured as follows:

  1. The first lectures of the course set the IOs’ context of global governance: we clarify what IOs are, and categorize the main actors in “families.” We then focus attention on the United Nations system, which is composed of different kinds of organizations that have distinctive governance systems (e.g., decision-making models, executive arrangements, representation structures, and strategies for resource mobilization). Further, we cover questions of interagency coordination and the main strategic frameworks and declarations (e.g., the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement) that shape the activities of the United Nations system.
  2. Subsequently, we turn to analysis of the international financial institutions (IMF, World Bank, regional development banks) and other relevant organizations: most notably, the aid system, the involvement of the corporate sector, the increasing importance of INGOs (neither profit-making, nor instruments of governments), and the role of global philanthropic foundations.
  3. An overview of the managerial reforms, tools and systems in IOs then are 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 are taken into consideration, with regards to both the activity of IOs 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...
  • Identify different families of IOs and elaborate on mandate and operations.
  • Understand the complexity and richness of the UN system, and distinguish roles and governance mechanisms of Funds, Programmes and Specialized Agencies.
  • Understand the current challenges and open issues of the managerial reforms in IOs and INGOs.
  • Understand the role of the aid system, other transnational actors, such as global public-private partnerships and global philanthropic foundations.
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Apply critical thinking in relation to management tools and reforms.
  • Appreciate the complexity and the need for a tailored approach to management in IOs and INGOs.
  • Identify the strategic frameworks and distinctive features of management in development cooperation.
  • Make comparisons between UN system organizations, other IOs, transnational hybrid organizations, global philanthropic foundations and INGOs in terms of operating and governance mechanisms.
  • Understand how IOs 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)
  • Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)
  • Individual assignments
  • 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” 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 16 classes or that cannot attend the partial exam are assessed as "non-attending".

Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •   x x
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  •     x

    For students who participate in at minimum 16 classes and sit for the partial exam the final grade for the course is  based on the following elements:

    1. Two partial exams, each counting for 50% of the grade. These test the material of the first and second parts of the course, respectively. Exam materials include the class slides and all the mandatory readings indicated in this syllabus (further readings are not assessed). The exams have the following structure:
      • Multiple choice questions
      • 2 short-answer questions (max. 10 lines each)
    2. An optional short assignment: attending students have the option to prepare a short memo (max. 2 pages) on an operational/managerial issue related to a case study discussed in class. An excellent memo add 2 points to the final mark, a good memo add 1 point, and poor memos not alter the final mark. Examples for how to structure such memos are provided. Students who cannot attend the partial exam or decide to reject the grade are assessed as non-attending students, as outlined below.

    For students not regularly attending classes, final grade for this course is based on a final written examination (100%) composed of 2 short-answer questions (max. 10 lines each) and 2 long-answer questions, based on mandatory readings, presentations and further readings listed in this syllabus.

    Teaching materials

    Mandatory readings:

    • E. MISSONI, D. ALESANI, Management of International Institutions and NGOs, Routledge, 2014.
    • A limited number of additional chapers or articles, indicated in the syllabus.

    Mandatory readings:

    • E. MISSONI, D. ALESANI, Management of International Institutions and NGOs, Routledge, 2014.
    • A lmited number of additional chapers or articles, indicated in the syllabus.

    Further readings:

    • Articles and other materials uploaded on Bboard.
    Last change 15/06/2019 11:18