The 25th NISPAcee Annual Conference
Innovation Governance in the Public Sector
May 18 - May 20, 2017
Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation
The 25th NISPAcee Annual Conference, organised in co-operation with the Kazan Federal University was attended by almost 180 participants from 34 countries worldwide. This included 23 CEE countries covered by NISPAcee institutional membership.
For the sixth time, NISPAcee included a special Pre-Conference Programme for Young Researchers: PhD Conference Seminar "How to Improve Your Research and Paper”. The seminar was conducted by Iwona Sobis, University of Gothenburg, Sweden and Michiel S. de Vries, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
NISPAcee would like to thank the local organisers, the Kazan Federal University, especially Nailya Bagautdinova, Director of the Institute of Management, Economics and Finance, Niyaz Gabdrakhmanov, Head of Department of Scientific Activity, and the entire Kazan team for the excellent organisation of the conference, financial support and preparation of the social events, which created a special, friendly and pleasant atmosphere for conference participants.
NISPAcee would also like to thank the members of the International Program Committee, including the coordinators of all research working groups and all Chairs of sessions and panels for their contributions to the high scientific and academic value of the entire event.
Reports of the Working groups
WG on Local Government
Michiel de Vries, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Ilona Pálné Kovács, Institute for Regional Studies, CERS HAS, Pecs, Hungary
The original idea was to focus on the effect of local government size, collecting the specific features of settlements of different sizes from the smallest up to the capital cities and even larger agglomerations. However, the topics discussed in the papers presented were much broader and ranged from centralisation tendencies, inter-municipal cooperation, city branding, public participation and information exchange within municipalities.
There were three working group meetings with nine papers, presented by scholars from several countries (Russia, The Netherlands, Sweden, Russia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic).
It is hard to summarise the main message of the sessions, but it became clear that size does matter and public administration has to cope with the different challenges of many kinds of territorial units and settlements. It was mentioned that scientific, empirical, theoretical researches and involvement by practitioners are all needed to identify the problems and appropriate solutions. It was agreed that not only the territorial, structural reforms (rescaling, integration, enlargement etc.) could be used, but also rather more flexible instruments (cooperation, planning, partnerships) which are bridging the gaps between the steadily changing geography of PA and the less flexible organisational setting.
An interesting question was presented and discussed, that being the special position of the capital in the government system, to be precise, what are the advantages and disadvantages of being the capital? The topic deserves comparative research in the future.
Centralisation, as the other main challenge, was also discussed in some papers (e.g. Hungarian scholars’ papers) and during the discussion possibly the most important point was whether or not we have sufficient knowledge of the real consequences of centralisation. How do we evaluate and compare the quality and costs of public services provided by local governments or state agencies?
Not only aspects of PA science but also regional and economic development are relevant in order to know more about the linkages between size and performance.
WG on E-Government
Tina Jukić, Faculty of Administration, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia,
András Nemeslaki,National University of Public Service, Budapest, Hungary
This year, the E-Government Working Group meeting was held in four sessions:
1.Social media with three papers presented.
2.E-government and E-services with three papers presented.
3.E-participation and Open data with two papers presented.
4.Technical and Security Issues in E-government with three papers presented.
Altogether, 11 papers were presented. The discussion was very fruitful within each of the above sessions. Participants from other WGs were also among the attendees. What we have learned is that in the future, presenters should be informed about the length of their presentations (one presentation was very short).
Future plans: we will encourage more international cooperation between WG members. The social media topic was identified as the topic with the highest potential in this regard. It has gained considerable attention in the e-government research arena in the last five years, and the NISPAcee conference is no exception (a separate session on social media was held in 2016 and 2017).
WG on Public Administration Reform
Diana-Camelia Iancu, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania
In Kazan, the Working Group on Public Administration Reform focused on discussing ten papers, organised into four general panels:
1. Public Management and beyond: Reforms in Context,
2. Civil Service: Management and Performance,
3. Regulatory Reforms: Theory and Practice, and
4. Accountability Mechanisms and Good Governance.
Each panel benefited from the presence of practitioners and academics and generated lively debates on roughly two main questions: what lessons needed to be learned for better governing and how do we improve the learning process for politicians and communities?
Summaries of working group papers:
-Possibly explained by the financial and political challenges, as well as the historical context, the scope and form of centres of governments in the CEE region have changed so to better accommodate the problems of today’s polities.
-Instead of searching for panacea, some more innovative local governments have successfully started owning the reform processes and re-connecting to their communities.
-Redesigning the evaluation performance systems may also prove effective in boosting governmental performance.
-Is self-regulation desirable for better governing and what are the incumbent costs?
-Accountability of the public sector (to whom, how and why) was a topic approached from both a legal perspective and a policy focus.
-Changing the working paradigm is also worthwhile: dissecting NPM has been, for the past decades, a visible "must” and yet some of its principles may still be harvested.
-Thinking of tenure as a way of securing professionals for the civil service may have had its perks, but presently, this line of argument can be seriously challenged by practitioners.
on Regional Development and Inter-regional Cooperation
Alexey G. Barabashev, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
Carolina de Stefano, Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy
At the conference, 3 sessions devoted to the problem of interregional cooperation and regional development were held. To compare with previous fields of WG activity, the interests of researchers have drifted towards a broader understanding of regions and their development, including the level of countries as regions. Regional migration processes, development of strategic plans, other issues, including energy policy, fight against corruption, regional education of civil servants, and sustainability were at the centre of the scope. Local inter-regional cooperation, compared with previous NISPAcee conferences, was less popular with researchers. Such a shift can be explained as a consequence of a more turbulent administrative and political atmosphere in the NISPAcee region, and the necessity to find a new foundation for development and cooperation, based on diverged national interests.
Summaries of working group papers:
1. Migration, security, and the well-being of civil servants in the regions
-Complex actions undertaken both by the Russian Federation and Tajikistan, which helped not only to streamline migration flows, but also to find points of common social and economic interests for both countries.
-The statistics of in-Russia migration processes and the history of internal migration among Russian regions. The job attractiveness coefficients of the Russian regions were introduced and calculated. The programme of resettlement at the regional level was discussed.
-The online survey results evaluation (values, levels of satisfaction, goals and priorities), that was carried out in the Siberian Federal District for more than nine thousand civil servants.
2. Energy issues, EU Member States Mutual Assistance and Anti-corruption Policy
- The regulatory rules and electricity market conditions in Bulgaria in its historical development and present trends. The new model for the governance approach to electricity services and its effect on implementation was discussed.
-Description of the history and the present situation in cooperation between EU Member States. It has gradually been strengthened through expanding the subjective scope to new categories of public claims, establishing three separate cooperation forms, most notably the possibility to recover claims arising in one state by authorities of another state, and establishing separate institutional frameworks of cooperation. The present regulation concerning mutual assistance for the recovery of claims relating to taxes, duties and other measures was described.
-Description of new teaching programmes for Siberian Federal District civil servants targeted establishing anti-corruption (resistance for corruption) competencies.
3. Regional educational development and cooperation:
-The evolution of Moscow’s nationalities and federal policies in the years 1989-1993. The core argument of the presentation was the way Russian regions interacted with each other and with the political centre in the critical transition years of 1989-1993 and how they influenced the future and Post-Soviet evolution of Russian federalism. As a consequence, it also directly impacted Russian regions’ subsequent development.
-Analysis of the trends of their dynamics in production, employment, and incomes of the population in the Republic of Tatarstan on the basis of the introduced system of indicators of sustainable and safe development of the regional social and economic system.
- The analytical potential of the quasi-McKinsey matrix that is not limited by the elaboration of the collective stakeholders’ vision of the strategy of regional development. It was argued that it is possible to use the quasi-McKinsey matrix tool for the identification of regional clusters and for the elaboration of a cluster policy at the regional level.
WG on Public Finance and Public Finance Management
Juraj Nemec, Masaryk University Brno, Czech Republic
Aleksander Aristovnik, Faculty of Public Administration, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
The WG on Public finance and public finance management during its meeting in Kazan focused mainly on two specific research tracks for the 2017 conference:
(1) Performance financing, and
(2) "Better” government spending as a reaction to the crisis.
In total, 17 papers were presented by researchers from 7 countries (Belarus, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia), in one general and three monothematic sessions focused on Performance management and outsourcing, Budgeting and corruption, and Intergovernmental fiscal relations and financing development. The presentations and discussions were mainly very interesting and were followed by fruitful discussions among between presenter and participants. The WG has also decided to continue by announcing at least two research tracks, which will be specialised, accompanied by a research protocol.
The research tracks for the 2018 conference will presumably be:
(1) Performance management and budgeting, and
(2) Taxation and tax reforms.
WG on Public Policy Analysis Development Issues
István Stumpf, Széchenyi István University, Győr, Hungary
Topic: Public Policy Procedures in the Context of Good Governance
The focus of the discussion in the Working Group was to establish a constructive learning and exchange forum for academics and policymakers. According to this session, theorists and professionals could exchange their experiences of current questions of state administration and public law. Thanks to these discussions and the prepared studies, this group promoted relevant policy advice, as well as upgrading academic programmes in public policy analysis and encouraging the transfer of knowledge on public policy in Central and Eastern Europe.
According to the papers presented in the Working Group, the analysis was expanded to the European Union and its member states and also to Russia and China.
Summaries of working group papers:
1.Investigation - how far the instrumental framework conditions of the EU Twinning Instrument promote or hinder the achievement of reform outcomes.
2. Analysis of the Russian Federal Education Programmes which were adopted during the period 2000-2020. It also concerned academic mobility, the Bologna process, and summarised the Russian Government’s policy on the development of academic mobility.
3. Focus on constitutional identity as it is understood and construed in the constitutional theory and practice of EU Member States. The most important question is which institution (national or EU) has the scope of authority to decide on what the constitutional identity of a Member State is, and when does an EU act or measure confront that constitutional identity?
Outcomes and future plans:
In comparing the working groups over the last years, the conclusion is that the aforementioned working group entitled ‘Public Policy Analysis Development Issues Public Policy Procedures in the Context of Good Governance’ was general, and determined a wide range of subjects. This working group could include several fields of public policy (e.g. health management; financial background; quality of administration; transparency; central government, and good government). This conformation could create an excellent platform — in spite of its generality — for in-depth scientific discussions and for the exchange of experiences.
The formation of this working group was active and at the same time, colourful. For the future, my proposal is to establish a new working group concerning the theory of ‘deep state’ not only in the United States, but also according to the academic and professional political background of Europe, and its effects on the institutions of the European Union.
WG on PA Education
Calin Emilian Hintea, Babes Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
The coordinators of the WG on Public Administration Education received 26 papers for evaluation. 21 papers were accepted for the Kazan conference panels.
The papers presented were generally very good in terms of quality and referred to very different topics of teaching public administration in different countries. The only problem related to quite a low number of papers presented at the conference.
The coordinators intend to continue the working group in next year’s NISPAcee conference and to encourage more members to submit papers on the topics related to teaching and research in public administration.
WG on Transition, Change and Uncertainty
Gyorgy Gajduschek, Corvinus University, Budapest, Hungary,
Albena Taneva, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, Sofia, Bulgaria
The WG focused on answers to the following questions:
1) Is there indeed a significantly higher level of change and subsequent uncertainty in the CEE region?
Our hypothesis is that there is a much higher level of change and uncertainty in the region than in Western countries.
2) Is there a linear relationship between the amount of change and the level of uncertainty; or alternatively, do some types of change cause less uncertainty than others?
Our hypothesis is that some types of change (e.g. change decided in a deliberative process; or change that fits to a longer, strategic plan) may cause less uncertainty than others.
3) What are the potential causes of frequently large-sale changes in the region?
4) What are the identifiable effects of these changes?
WG on NGOs
Michael Brintnall, ASPA Council, USA
Gyorgy Hajnal, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary
Our Working Group heard five papers related to our theme regarding the role of NGO’s in shaping governance and on multi-sector strategies for meeting the public interest. The papers included a focus on the ways NGO’s have sought greater transparency in the public sector, have sought to refine democratic processes, and have mobilised for advocacy across the European Union as a whole.Others explored how the internal structures of NGO’s, such as the values held by their staff, and influences from external donors affect outcomes, such as by introducing traditional values into their practices, and stimulating a more vibrant locally oriented civil society presence.
Summaries of working group papers:
1. Civil society organisation can be effective, within limits, by seeking to improve the quality of the electoral and policy process without intruding into the substance of politics and policy. Limits involve scale, working locally not nationally and scope, obtaining formal commitments from politicians, but not reaching behind the scenes to influence political operatives and staff. Action is possible because of public pressure for a change to the process.
2. There are a number of important linkages between the NGO’s and local civil society and policy, including local staffing, personnel connections between the NGO and the public sector feeding ideas and objectives back and forth, a revolving door of staffing between the NGO and government, and on job training for interns and future leaders.
3. Social movements in the European Union; the role is enabled by the multi-level/polycentric structure of the EU; possible emergence of a European civil society; cooperation centred but not conflictual, and advocacy/lobbying not mass mobilisation.
4. The European Union subsequently redesigned and managed itself. While this in itself seems to be a success for civil society, in fact, the resulting product is so large and so ill-designed that it cannot be effectively utilised, and appears to be out of the hands of civil society organisations to fix. An apparent collaboration between a civil society initiative and public sector implementation appears to result in something that is not effective at either level.
5. Values expressed by workers in civil society organisations are not consistently oriented to altruistic, pro-social principles, but include materialistic perspectives and are closely oriented to values in national culture as a whole. There is caution that there may be a distinction between values of workers and of volunteers and that NGO’s can also be focused on traditional values as values of reform or change.
Our goals for next year include a focus on the role of the NGOs in service delivery: independent service provision and co-design of public services, as well as an outreach to institutions carrying out research in the region. Further discussion is needed for us in order to elaborate on topical priorities for the coming call for papers.