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Geert Bouckaert, Vitalis Nakrošis and Juraj Nemec

Public Administration and Management Reforms in CEE: Main Trajectories and Results

The common feature of CEE systems is that they change drastically. Political systems change, e.g. from dictatorships to democracies, and their elites are removed. Democratic checks and balances are established. State structures are reshuffled, e.g. toward more decentralisation. The economic system changes its nature, e.g. from state monopolies to market systems with private firms. Societal and social systems with NGOs, not-for-profit organisations and citizen action groups are established and are designed for people to participate actively in the public debate and to become stakeholders of their society and their communities (Peters 1996).

To achieve planned changes, CEE countries had to choose their strategies. In focusing on the administration and the management of public systems, five scopes of reform are possible, from very narrow and limited to a very widespread and broad span of reform (Pollitt and Bouckaert 2004). Choosing one of these models has tremendous practical implications for the content of a reform programme, for the choice of the reform projects, for the sequence and timing of the reform portfolio. It also requires different tactical choices to be made. One of the issues is how many degrees of freedom there are to reform the public sector.

Just as in many other countries, mixed strategies have been chosen for public- sector reform in CEE countries, and these choices have changed over time. However, it seems that the span of reform has rather been broad than narrow. It also seems that tactics could have been more visible than strategy because of electoral cycles.

This brings us to the question of the trajectories to move ahead. Our article, heavily based in the joint NISPAcee research project4 tries to respond to some selected dimensions of the question of what the common and different trajectories and selected outcomes of public administration / management reforms are in the CEE region.