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A Comparison of East Central Europe, South East Europe and the West Balkans

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Slide 1: The Impact of Historical, Political and Economic Factors on Informal Practice in Post-Communist Europe A Comparison of East Central Europe, South East Europe and the West Balkans   0:0:46  
  • Åse Berit Grødeland
  • NIBR/CMI, Charles University, University of Maribor, Vitosha Research, SAR/TNS Gallup
  • Argument, Pro Media, Prism Research/GfK Bosnia
  • Research Council of Norway grants no 156856/V10 & 174856/S30.
Slide 2: Plan of Presentation   0:2:51  
  • A few Words about Legal Transplants
  • A few Words about NIBR’s Informal Practice Projects
  • Links between the Informal Practice Projects and other on-going Projects
  • Historical, Political and Economic Factors and their Impact on Informal Practice in East Central Europe (ECE), South East Europe (SEE) and the West Balkans
  • Elite Perceptions on Informal Practice, Culture and Mentality
  • Informal Practice in Post-Communist States: mplications for Public Procurement
  • Concluding Remarks
Slide 3: Transition & EU Adjustment, Post-Communist States   0:3:38  
  • Legal transplant (def):  ”The transfer of laws and institutional structures across geographical or cultural borders” (Gillespie).
  • Two types:  ”liberal” (laws, rules and institutional arrangements that promote democracy and the free market) and ”illiberal” (the war on terrorism – to the extent it reduces basic civil rights/human rights).
  • Normative perspectives:
    • Law and institutional structures can easily move from one society to another.  Legal transplants desirable (Watson)
    • Law and institutional structures cannot move from one society to another without changing its content.  Legal transplants not desirable (Legrand).
  • Instrumental perspectives:  (i) pessimistic (Seidman); (ii) pragmatic (Teubner; Watson) and (iii) optimistic (Goodpaster).
  • Transplants --- ”Cultural” setting into which introduced --- Formal vs. Informal culture
Slide 4: Starting Point   0:8:1  
  • Open Society Institute (Budapest) – ”EU Accession and Corruption Monitoring Project” (Advisory Board).
    • Acquis communautaire
    • Not much impact in terms of reducing corruption:  why?
  • Context into which Legal Transplants introduced (Political Culture – Economic Culture – Legal Culture) vs. Mechanisms preventing them from taking (proper) hold.
  • Own experiences – Moscow 1986-87
    • Formal vs. Informal Sphere
  • ECPR Research Group on Informal Institutions in Eastern Europe – Meeting in Pilsen, Czech Republic, 2002.
    • Case studies
Slide 5: Informal Practices and Corruption   0:10:5  
  • Informal Practices & Corruption I (ECE + SEE) à Informal Practices and Corruption II (WB)
  • Informal Mechanisms that may or may not facilitate corruption in sectors defined by the EU as being particularly vulnerable to corruption:  politics, the judiciary, public procurement and post-war/conflict reconstruction (WB only).
  • Informal Practice usually investigated by means of case-studies.
  • General use of contacts and informal networks rather than the individual cases à Large-scale qualitative and quantitative data.
Slide 6: Data Collection   0:11:36  
  • Extensive collection of qualitative and quantitative data amongst 9 categories of elites at national & capital level (all countries) + in an area particularly badly affected by conflict, WB (Mostar, Tetovo, Sandzak – Novi Pazar).
  • Focus on:  (i) elected representatives; (ii) political party representatives; (iii) judges & prosecutors; (iv) public procurement officials; (v) representatives of local business; (vi) representatives of international business; (vii) media representatives; (viii) NGO representatives, and (ix) national government officials working in the area of anti-corruption, EU and Council of Europe Representatives (ECE/SEE) / international donor community (WB).
  • Structured (open-ended) in-depth interviews (774:  360 + 414)
  • Quota-based, quantitative surveys (N=600 x 7).
  • Interviews conducted in ECE & SEE 2003-04 and in WB 2007-08.
  • Surveys conducted in ECE & SEE 2004-05 and in WB 2008-09.
  • Present partial findings from 774 (95) in-depth interviews.
Slide 7: Links – Ongoing Projects/Future Spin-Offs   0:14:30  
  • Legal Cultures in Transition:  The Impact of European Integration (Research Council of Norway, 2007-11)
    • CMI, University of Oslo, University of Glasgow & University of Oxford
    • Norway, UK (England), Poland, Bulgaria & Ukraine
    • Focus groups --- Nationally representative surveys & Muslim boosters ---
    • In-depth Interviews --- Court Observation
  • The (Re-)Integration of Ukraine into Europe
  • (University of Vienna, 2006-09
    • Cultural Constants, the Orange Revolution & Corruption
    • Elite In-Depth Interviews (elected representatives; political party representatives, judges, prosecutors, representatives of local business & representatives of foreign business)
  • Possible Spin-Offs:
    • Informal Practice in the South Caucasus, Western Europe, Latin America
    • Legal Cultures in the West Balkans, Latin America
Slide 8: Root Causes of Informal Practice   0:17:4  
  • Manifestations vs. root-causes of informal practice:  Implications for anti-corruption reform.
  • Informal practice (use of contacts and informal networks) not only a response to transition.
  • More deeply embedded in the national culture, shaped by historical events and social norms that are fairly resistant to change.
  • Also affected by the communist experience.
  • Dahrendorf:  6 months to reform the political systems, 6 years to change the economic systems and 60 years to effect a revolution in people’s hearts and minds.
  • ”As a jurist, I have to confess that I feel totally helpless in front of this avalanche of laws, especially when it is about adapting to a completely new system that is foreign to every one of us...’ (Romanian Council of Europe Representative, Buchuresti)
Slide 9: Culture and Social Norms   0:18:38  
  • Culture (def):  ”The collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one category of people from those of another.  Culture is composed of certain values, which shape behaviour as well as one’s perception of the world.’ (Hofstede & Bond)
  • Culture influences people’s values, which in turn shape their attitudes and behaviour (Adler)
  • Changes in cultural patterns are mainly a result of external influences such as natural forces or human forces (trade, conquest, political and economic domination, scientific discoveries, technological breakthrough, etc.)
  • Social norms, ”informing” people’s behaviour, rarely change through direct adoption of outside values.
  • The ”European project”:  legal transfers + transfer of ”European culture and values”.
Slide 10: History and National Culture   0:20:37  
  • ”Try harder”-hypothesis
    • compensate for perceived or real disadvantages when interacting with state institutions.
    • Informal ”coping mechanisms”
  • All states covered by our study have previously been part of empires
    • Habsburg (Czech Republic, Slovenia)
    • Ottoman Empire (Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia)
    • Habsburg and Ottoman Empire (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
    • Habsburg, Ottoman Empire & Russia (Romania)
  • Most of them gained independence during the late 19th/early 20th century – though some initially not as independent states but as part of larger entities
    • Fragile states --- Lip-service to Europe’s bigger states --- Not always best interests of own people in mind --- Embroiled in war & hardship
Slide 11: Communist Experience   0:23:15  
  • ”Soviet-style” (Czech Republic, Bulgaria) --- National-style (Romania) vs. Tito-style (Slovenia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina) communism.
    • Economic structure (exposure to + structural similarities with modern Western economies differed)
    • Exposure to the West  (travel, access to information, aspirations)
Slide 12: Transition   0:25:25  
  • Degree of political consensus at the outset of transition
  • Number of transitions
    • Bulgaria and Romania – 3 transitions (transition to democracy, market economy & EU membership)
    • Czech Republic and Slovenia – 4 transitions (+ national independence)
    • Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina – 5 transitions (+ prolonged war/conflict), aspiring to a 6th (EU membership)
  • Committment to transition & external economic and other assistance
    • East Central Europe --- South East Europe --- West Balkans
  • Sequence and Timing of Transition
    • Degree of overlap
Slide 13: Post-Communist Elites on Culture   0:30:3  
  • String search:  ”culture”, ”mentality” (774 interviews)
  • Respondents in the Czech Republic & Slovenia:  relatively few statements
  • ”Culture” vs. ”absence of culture” (Romania, Bosnia --- Serbia)
  • Informal Culture (all countries except Czech Republic & Slovenia)
  • Legal culture (all countries except Czech Republic)
  • Political culture (Bulgaria, Romania)
  • Elites in the West Balkans also spoke about a ”culture of fear” (system, authorities & law)
  • Need to change mentality & culture – but difficult or impossible (Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania & Serbia)
Slide 14: Informal Culture   0:34:5  
  • Culture informal because
    • Relies on the use of contacts (BUL, ROM, SER, MAC, BOS)
    • Relies on the use of informal networks (BUL, MAC)
    • Emphasizes ”own”, as opposed to ”other” people (SER, BOS)
    • Endorses the use of bribes (BUL, SER, MAC)
      • ”Rural mentality” – Bulgaria
      • ”Small town” or ”village mentality” (Serbia)
Slide 15: Quotes   0:34:55  
  • ”only the use of contacts opens doors, you have to seek contacts for everything.” (Elected representative, Bulgaria)
  • ”This is the perpetual mentality of the Romanians, namely that one can solve problems only by using contacts” (Judge, Romania)
  • (in Serbia) perhaps decades’ old, centuries’ old habits exist for doing things informally.  The laws do not work well, the state institutions do not work well and people have an ingrained habit of doing things...through informal channels.  This may be part of our tradition and our mentality.’ (Elected representative, Serbia)
  • ”forms exist only (in order) to meet the expectations of the international community, while, basically, everything is resolved in an informal manner” (Foreign donor representative, Serbia)
  • ”this is not a state.  They (i.e. People) behave like they did in the Ottoman period or in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  It is important to trick the state, work for your own benefit” (Political Party representative, state level, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • ”the institutions are not strong enough and we still have a culture of behaviour that does not trust the institutions, but trusts the political party contacts, family contacts and neighbour contacts” (NGO representative, Macedonia)
Slide 16: Legal Culture   0:37:4  
  • Emphasis on disregard for the law
    • no rule of law (BUL)
    • no respect for law (BUL)
    • ignore, avoid or evade law (BUL, ROM, SER, MAC)
    • law guide, not a ”must” (ROM)
    • law not important (ROM)
    • break if no risk of sanction (BOS)
  • To a lesser extent regard for the law
    • people law abiding – but legal culture low (SLO)
    • respect for or mixed attitudes to the law (SER)
    • respect and abide by the law (BOS)
Slide 17: Quotes   0:38:7  
  • ”Slovenes have a mentality (to the effect that) we must obey the law” (Government official, Slovenia)
  • ”We, Bulgarians, are such types of people who even get more confident in ourselves when breaking the rules.” (Media representative, Bulgaria)
  • ”there is this mentality in Romania that whenever a law is adopted, the first concern is to see how it can be avoided.  Probably that is why Romania is known to be a country having difficulties in institutionalising rules and procedures.  Probably that is why we adapt so slowly to the strict EU rules” (Elected representative, Romania)
  • ”laws are laws, but here one only needs to have a good argument in the sleeve for getting to an arrangement” (Media representative, Macedonia)
  • ”people may disrespect the law but most of them still fear it.” (Judge, Bosnia)
Slide 18: Political Culture   0:38:55  
  • Political culture characterised by
    • informal relations & money exchanges between political actors (BUL)
    • powerful civil servants
    • big gap between mentality of the political establishment & public (ROM)
    • disentanglement from reality (BUL)
  • ”Culture of fear” (SER, MAC)
    • fear of authorities – Serbia
    • fear of the system - Macedonia
Slide 19: Implications:  Public Procurement Informal culture & legal culture also manifested in public procurement Informal culture also affects business culture --- ”instrumental friendships” (Chavdarova) --- business culture affects public procurement   0:39:55  
  • Informal culture & legal culture also manifested in public procurement
  • Informal culture also affects business culture --- ”instrumental friendships” (Chavdarova) --- business culture affects public procurement
Slide 24: Conclusions   0:43:59  
  • History and national culture matter: informal practice not simply a response to transition
  • Informal practice rooted in the past affects public procurement in post-communist states
  • Public procurement reform must address the culture ”informing” informal practice in procurement as well as the rules regulating public procurement

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