This thesis is a descriptive study of the selected demographic background variables nationality, education, former career, Commission tenure and gender of top officials in the European Commission at one point in time. Top officials in the European Commission are placed on top of the world’s most powerful and autonomous international executive administration. If who the top officials are, where they come from, where they sit and their future career prospects influence their decision-making behaviour, the mapping of these background variables is a relevant research task if one wants to unpack the functioning of the Commission. This is not merely because of their possible substantial implications regarding decision-making behaviour and thus effecting policy formation, but also because of the symbolic significance of these demographic features.
Concerns of officials’ nationality have received substantial attention in the literature with regard to its substantial and symbolic importance it has in the Commission. However, this concern should not lead us to overlook other important characteristics, such as gender balance. Mapping the demographic background of top Commission officials is however merely the first research step, the more important and more theoretically challenging question is to find out whether and to what extent these demographic background variables shape policy-making. Therefore I present the organisational conditions for when and in what direction the decision-making of behaviour might be affected by backgrounds, on the basis of organisational theory, and point to effects of these variables based on previous research. So far we have mixed evidence for the impact of such variables. To refine and test the theoretical and empirical conditions for when demographic background variables become important for policy making output is the challenge ahead.