In this article we describe the adoption and execution of public administration reforms in Central and Eastern Europe between 2008 and 2013, as well as examine whether post-communist countries differ from other groups of European countries in terms of the substance of reforms and their implementation process. Instead of following popular Western administrative theoretical frames, we adopt the policy process approach. We focus on the role of policy actors during reform policymaking and implementation at the level of policy subsystems. More specifically, we employ the rational-comprehensive and garbage can perspectives to understand the reform processes in the post-communist region. Our research is based on the statistical analysis of survey data and two case studies of reforms initiated by the 2008-2012 Lithuanian government. The article concludes that countries in Central and Eastern Europe share some common characteristics: they focused on the issues of civil service and public or administrative services, their reform policy was often formulated on a top-down basis, and its execution often lacked adequate capacities. Despite a rational reform façade in these countries, the implementation of governance change appears to be quite erratic, as anticipated in the garbage can perspective. This can have negative consequences on the effectiveness of public policy, continuing to generate public distrust in post-communist state institutions.
If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.
Aberbach, J. D. and Christensen, T., 2014. Why Reforms So Often Disappoint. American Review of Public Administration, 44(1), pp.3-16.
Barzeley, M. and Gallego, R., 2010. The Comparative Historical Analysis of Public Management Policy Cycles in France, Italy, and Spain: Symposium Conclusion. Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions, 23(2), pp.297-307.
Bezes, P. and Parrado, S., 2013. Trajectories of Administrative Reform: Institutions, Timing and Choices in France and Spain. West European Politics, 36(1), pp.22-50.
Brinkerhoff, D.W. and Brinkerhoff, J.M., 2015. Public Sector Management Reform in Developing Countries: Perspectives Beyond NPM Orthodoxy. Public Administration and Development, 35, pp.222-237.
Bouckaert, G., Nakrošis, V. and Nemec, J., 2011. Public Administration and Management Reforms in CEE: Main Trajectories and Results. The NISPACEE Journal of Public Administration and Policy, 4(1), pp.9-29.
Castro, F.G., Ellison, J.G., Boyd, S.J. and Kopak, A., 2010. A methodology for conducting integrative mixed methods research and data analysis. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 4(4), pp.342-60.
Cohen, M. D., March, J. G. and Olsen, J. P., 1972. A garbage can model of organisational choice. Administrative Science Quarterly, 17, pp.1-25.
Dan, S. and Pollitt, C., 2014. NPM Can Work: An Optimistic Review of the Impact of New Public Management Reforms in Central and Eastern Europe. Public Management Review, 17(9), pp.1305-1332.
De Vries, M. and Nemec, J., 2013. Public sector reform: an overview of recent literature and research on NPM and alternative paths. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 26(1), pp.4-16.
Drechsler, W. and Randma-Liiv, T., 2014. The New Public Management Then and Now: Lessons from the Transition in Central and Eastern Europe. Working Papers in Technology Governance and Economic Dynamics, 57, pp.1-26.
ECORYS, 2011. Assessment of administrative and institutional capacity building interventions and future needs in the context of European Social Fund, Final Report, 21 March, Rotterdam/Brussels, http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=701&internal_pagesId=616&langId=en&moreDocuments=yes&tableName=INTERNAL_PAGES [Accessed June 21, 2017].
Epstein, R.A. and Jacoby, W., 2014. Eastern Enlargement Ten Years On: Transcending the East-West Divide? Journal of Common Market Studies, 52(1), pp.1-16.
EUPAN, 2013. Discussion Note on Sustainable Reform within Public Administration: Responses from EUPAN members. Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, http://www.eupan.eu/files/repository/20130327182412_Reform_Delivery_-_Discussion_Note.pdf, [Accessed October 21, 2014].
Goetz, K.H. and Wollmann, H., 2001. Governmentalizing Central Executives in Post-Communist Europe: A Four-Country Comparison. Journal of European Public Policy, 8(6), pp.864-887.
Grabbe, H., 2001. How Does Europeanisation Affect CEE Governance? Conditionality, Diffusion and Diversity. Journal of European Public Policy, 8(4), pp.1013-1031.
Hajnal, G. and Rosta, M., 2016. A New Doctrine in the Making? Doctrinal Foundations of Sub-National Governance Reforms in Hungary (2010-2014). Administration and Society, Advance online publication doi:
Hajnal, G. and Rosta, M., 2016. A New Doctrine in the Making? Doctrinal Foundations of Sub-National Governance Reforms in Hungary (2010-2014). Administration and Society, Advance online publication doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0095399715626202)| false
Ham, C. and Hill, M., 1984. The Policy Process in the Modern Capitalist State. Toronto: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
Huxley, K., Andrews, R., Hammerschmid, G. and Van de Walle, S., 2016. Public administration reforms and outcomes across countries and policy areas. In Hammerschmid, G., Van de Walle, S., Andrews, R. and Bezes, P., eds. Public Administration Reforms in Europe: The View from the Top. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2016, pp.259-272.
Kasemets, K., 2015. Policy Making Review Kosovo. SIGMA Papers, 52, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5js7nr4np0d8-en [Accessed July 17, 2016].
Kickert, W., Randma-Liiv, T. and Savi, R., 2015. Politics of fiscal consolidation in Europe: a comparative analysis. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 81, pp.562-584.
Liebert, S., Condrey, S.E. and Goncharov, D., 2013. Public Administration in Post-Communist Countries Former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe, and Mongolia. CRC Press Taylor and Francis Group.
Meyer-Sahling, J.-H. and van Stolk, C., 2014. Case of partial convergence: The Europeanization of central government in Central and Eastern Europe. Public administration, Advance online publication doi:
Meyer-Sahling, J.-H. and van Stolk, C., 2014. Case of partial convergence: The Europeanization of central government in Central and Eastern Europe. Public administration, Advance online publication doi: 10.1111/padm.12122)| false
Meyer-Sahling, J.-H. and Veen T., 2012. Governing the Post-Communist State: Government Alternation and Senior Civil Service Politicisation in Central and Eastern Europe. East European Politics, 28(1), pp.4-22.
Meyer-Sahling, J.-H., 2012. Civil Service Professionalisation in the Western Balkans. SIGMA Paper: 48, GOV/SIGMA: (2012)1.
Meyer-Sahling, J.-H., 2011. The Durability of EU Civil Service Policy in Central and Eastern Europe after Accession. Governance, 24(2), pp.231-260.
Meyer-Sahling, J.-H., 2009b. Sustainability of Civil Service Reforms in Central and Eastern Europe Five Years after EU Accession. SIGMA Paper: 44, GOV/SIGMA: (2009)1.
Meyer-Sahling, J.-H., 2009a. Varieties of Legacies: A Critical Review of Legacy Explanations of Public Administration Reform in East Central Europe. International Review of Administrative Science, 75(3), pp.563-581.
Nakrošis, V., 2015. The Influence of Government Priorities on Public-Administration Reforms in Europe. NISPACEE Journal of Public Administration and Policy, VIII(1), pp.21-40.
Nakrošis, V., Vilpišauskas, R. and Kuokštis, V., 2015. Fiscal Consolidation and Structural Reforms in Lithuania in the Period 2008-2012: From Grand Ambitions to Hectic Firefighting. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 81(3), pp.522-540.
Nemec, J., 2010. New Public Management and its Implementation in CEE: What Do We Know and Where Do We Go? NISPAcee Journal of Public Administration and Policy, 3(1), pp.31-52.
OECD, 2017. Trust and Public Policy: How Better Governance Can Help Rebuild Public Trust, OECD Publishing, Paris. doi:
Olsen, J.P., 2016. An Institutional Perspective. In Van de Walle, S. and Groeneveld, S., eds. Theory and Practice of Public Sector Reform. Routledge: New York and London, pp.9-26.
Oomsels, P. and Bouckaert, G., 2014. Studying Interorganizational Trust in Public Administration, Public Performance & Management Review, 37(4), pp.577-604.
Peters, B.G. (Ed.), 2008. Mixes, Matches and Mistakes: New Public Management in Russia and the Former Soviet Republics. Open Society Institute, Budapest.
Pollitt, C. and Bouckaert, G., 2011. Public Management Reform: A Comparative Analysis - New Public Management, Governance, and the Neo-Weberian State. 3rd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Potůček, M. and Rudolfová, V., 2016. Rivalry of Advocacy Coalitions in the Czech Pension Reform, The NISPAcee Journal of Public Administration and Policy, IX(1), pp.117-134.
Sabatier, P.A. and Jenkins-Smith, H.C., 1999. The Advocacy Coalition Framework: An Assessment. In P.A. Sabatier, ed. Theories of the Policy Process. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp.117-166).
Schimmelfennig, F. and Sedelmeier, U., eds, 2005. The Europeanization of Central and Eastern Europe Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Spendzharova, A.B. and Vachudova, M.A., 2012. Catching Up? Consolidating Liberal Democracy in Bulgaria and Romania after EU Accession. West European Politics, 35(1), pp.39-58.
The European Commission, 2013. Communication from the Commission: Annual Growth Survey 2014. Brussels, 13 November 2013, http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/pdf/2014/ags2014_en.pdf [Accessed October 21, 2014].
The Government of Lithuania, 2010. The 2010 performance priorities of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, http://www.lrv.lt/bylos/veikla/LRV-2010-prioritetai.pdf [Accessed on June 14, 2013].
The Parliament of Lithuania, 2008. Decree on the Programme of Lithuanian Government, Vilnius, December 9, No. XI-52.
Tompson, W., 2009. The Political Economy of Reform: Lessons from Pensions, Product Markets and Labour Markets in Ten OECD Countries. Paris: OECD.
Van der Heijden, J., 2014. Selecting Cases and Inferential Types in Comparative Public Research. In Engeli, I. and Rothmayr, C., eds. Comparative Policy Studies: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges. Houndsmills Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.35-56.
Van Thiel, S., 2011. Comparing Agencification in Central Eastern European and Western European Countries: Fundamentally Alike in Unimportant Respects. Transylvanian Review of Administrative Sciences, special issue, pp.15-32.
Weible, C.M., Sabatier, P.A., Jenkins-Smith, H.C., Nohrstedt, D., Henry, A.D. and deLeon, P., 2011. A Quarter Century of the Advocacy Coalition Framework: An Introduction to the Special Issue. Policy Studies Journal, 39(3), pp.349-360.
Former politician 2, 2013. Interview on healthcare reforms, Vilnius, Lithuania, June 10, 2013.
Former politician 1, 2014. Interview on civil service reforms, Vilnius, Lithuania, November 19, 2014.
Former head of institution, 2014. Interview on civil service reforms, Vilnius, Lithuania, December 12, 2014.
Former deputy head of institution, 2015. Interview on civil service reforms, Vilnius, Lithuania, January 7, 2015.
Former political appointee, 2015. Interview on healthcare reforms, Vilnius, Lithuania, January 19, 2015.
Former vice-minister, 2015. Interview on healthcare reforms, Vilnius, Lithuania, January 23, 2015.