Bureaucratic Professionalization in New Democracies: Drivers and Developmental Dynamics Grant

Bureaucratic Professionalization in New Democracies: Drivers and Developmental Dynamics .


  • A major criterion for the evaluation of quality of governance is the existence of a professional bureaucracy which is capable of offering expertise and impartiality in the formulation and implementation of public policies. The newly established democracies of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) introduced administrative reforms to transform the highly politicized and inefficient bureaucracies inherited from Communism into professional administrations. What are the outcomes of this transformation some 20 years after the start of the transition process? This research assesses the degree of bureaucratic professionalization in 14 CEE democracies by drawing upon the adopted legal frameworks and administrative procedures in these countries.First, the research aims to assess the degree of bureaucratic professionalization in post-Communist countries and its dynamics over time. The project offers a new way of thinking and measuring bureaucratic professionalization, consisting of three dimensions: 1) political neutrality and impartiality; 2) competence; and 3) integrity. The research develops a set of indicators for each dimension and assesses the degree of bureaucratic professionalization in each country based on legislation from 1992 to 2007. Developing such a measure is needed to understand the dynamics of the region's administrative development, and will be an important step in moving the comparative study of public administration away from its static and descriptive orientation.Second, the research attempts to uncover the conditions under which countries are more likely to develop competent, impartial, and corruption-free administrations. The project includes an integrative framework to explain the variation in the outcomes of administrative rebuilding, which draws upon two streams of institutionalism: 1) historical institutionalism with its focus on path-dependent processes and 2) rational-choice institutionalism with its emphasis on the activities of rational actors pursuing institutional change with expectations for positive returns.Intellectual merit: This is the first study to develop a quantifiable measure of bureaucratic professionalization to assess administrative rebuilding in the countries making the transition to democracy and a market economy. Moreover, the study of professionalization of CEE administrations moves away from the descriptive studies of administrative change. Finally, it provides a new integrative framework to explain the variation in the levels of bureaucratic professionalization among the countries in the region.Broader Impacts: There are at least three reasons why it is important to investigate the level and dynamics of bureaucratic professionalization of CEE countries. First, the region has been relatively successful in implementing a series of institutional reforms, including the development of administrative capacity. The lessons from the CEE experience should be generalizable to other counties in transition and the insights of this research can be used to inform the policy design of future reform efforts. Second, by investigating why some countries have pursued more vigorous administrative transformation paired with strong implementation while others opt for weak measures and even policy reversals, this research contributes to our understanding of the determinants of successful administrative restructuring and provides practical advice to governments undertaking reform efforts. Third, this research will generate a new data base that provides a foundation for future inquiries. The broader social value of this study lies in its relevance to issues of trust in government. Having an impartial, competent, and corruption-resistant bureaucracy is a major issue when citizens evaluate the quality of their government.

date/time interval

  • June 1, 2012 - May 31, 2015

sponsor award ID

  • SES-1155692

local award ID

  • AWD000000001842