Types of institutions

Within the EU, we can find different types of institutions within different administrative regimes. Globally, the two main administrative traditions are (1) the ‘legalistic’ regime (e.g. Germany) and (2) the ‘public interest’ or ‘minimal state’ regime (e.g. the United Kingdom). Many administrative systems are mixtures of both the legalistic and the public interest model.

Within the countries of the European Union, five groups of administrative types can be identified in terms of administrative tradition and institutional structure: (1) Continental-Napoleonic (including southern Europe as a subgroup); (2) Continental-Federal; (3) Scandinavian; (4) Anglo-Saxon; and (5) central eastern and south-eastern European.

Gender mainstreaming will be implemented in different ways in different administrative regimes. Although a typology can be useful for understanding the mechanisms of institutional transformation, it must be stated that any institution is a unique entity and there is consequently no standardised blueprint for dealing with change.

There are also different administrative levels of public institution: the European Union level, the national level (Member States), the regional level (federal states, regions) and the local level (counties, municipalities). Responsibilities, tasks and competencies vary according to the level of the institution.

There are also different types of actors within an institution who have different tasks, competencies and roles with regard to processes of change. The executive staff is responsible for making a commitment and ensuring that the necessary resources for change are available. Human resources personnel enable staff to deal with new tasks by building capacity. The operative staff translates changes into concrete tasks for the institution. The gender equality staff has a cross-cutting role in implementing gender mainstreaming. They can be change agents and advisers, as well as support executives to monitor the implementation process.

Institutional transformation in a Directorate-General is a very different process from transformation within a local administration — no matter which subject is addressed. It is important to note that in light of this wide range of applications, it is not possible to give a blueprint or standard solution for how best to mainstream gender equality within the structures and procedures of any institutional setting.

The Guide to organisational change provides a general framework for which steps should be taken. Since it is not possible to address an administrative system at each level, the guide gives examples from a wide range of administrative bodies as described above. When using the guide, these examples can inspire users to transfer experiences and good practices to their own institutional context.