Three Decades, Four Phases: Public Administration Development in Central and Eastern Europe, 1989-2017

  • Citation: Randma-Liiv, Tiina and Wolfgang Dreschler. “Three Decades, Four Phases: Public Administration Development in Central and Eastern Europe, 1989-2017.” International Journal of Public Sector Management 30, no. 6-7 (2017).
    • Topics:
    • Country and Regional Studies
    • Keywords:
    • e-governance
    • Central and Eastern Europe
    • new public management
    • neo-Weberian state
    • new EU member states
    • post-communist transition

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive overview of the public administration (PA) development in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) from an ex post perspective covering the past three decades. The paper reviews prior literature on CEE and PA paradigms. The authors propose to distinguish between four main phases of public sector development in new democracies: post-communist transition, EU accession, post-accession fine-tuning, and e-governance. There were many common features in the polities and PAs of the CEE countries at the beginning of the 1990s because of their common communist legacy, and also during the EU accession period, stemming from the “administrative capacity” requirement by the EU. However, domestic decisions of individual CEE governments following accession have moved them apart from each other. While some CEE countries face reversals of democratic public governance reforms, others are leading e-government initiatives – the current phase of public sector development. The choice of countries is limited to the new member states of the European Union. The paper shows that it is increasingly difficult to generalize findings, let alone to offer recommendations, that apply to all CEE countries. This is likely to lead to an end of a specific CEE administrative tradition as previously conceptualized in academic literature.

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