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Breaking out of silos: explaining cross-departmental interactions in two European bureaucracies.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Francesa Pia Vantaggiato, Hussein Kassim, Sara Connolly

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
VolumeOnline issue
Early online date2 Jul 2020
Accepted/In press25 May 2020
E-pub ahead of print2 Jul 2020


King's Authors


The view that silos are endemic in organisations in general and the European Civil Service in particular has become increasingly widespread. Yet, silos are rarely investigated theoretically or empirically. What is a silo? What are the individual and organisational factors associated with silos? We propose a functionalist approach to silo definition and identification, which links individual and organisational tasks to expected intra-organisational interactions: we operationalize silos as clusters of employees lacking communication with other parts of the organisation, and analyse civil servants and departments as bipartite networks of communication using stochastic blockmodelling. We explore the existence of silos in two European bureaucracies, which differ in mission, size and workforce composition: the European Commission and the General Secretariat of the Council. We do not find evidence of silo-ization in either bureaucracy, but rather task-based patterns of interaction. Our approach can be extended to include other theoretical perspectives, e.g. socialization effects.

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