European Association for Public Administration Accreditation

Panel on Getting Public Administration Reform to Work

Programme Coordinators:

Michiel de Vries, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands

NISPAcee Project Manager:

Viera Wallnerova, Email: wallnerova@nispa.org

Domestic and external factors affecting the management and sustainability of change.
The coordinators have identified the  following set of problems:

  • lack of common understanding and expectations of the aims of PAR projects;
  • confusions over the terminology used and methodologies proposed (Anglicised terms like ‘governance’ and ‘capacity-building’ do not mean the same to people with different professional or technical backgrounds, and when translated into different languages);
  • suspicion that many foreign consultants have only technical qualifications, and lack necessary understanding of the historical and cultural setting in which they work on mission;
  • recipient governments and beneficiaries are often not as willing or capable to implement projects as external donors suppose, and need, them to be;
  • it is often far from clear who the real beneficiaries are intended to be, while there is often limited opportunity for those outside the state administration to obtain information about projects or to make their own views known;
  • the objectives of PAR, and standards of ‘best practice’ or ‘benchmarking’, often exceed what is normally expected or achieved in the states acting as donors or ‘norm-setters’ themselves;
  • generally the problems of managing projects and making them sustainable have been under-estimated;
  • fixed ideological perspectives on both sides have deflected projects from meeting the real needs of PAR, and priorities of public policy, in the countries concerned;
  • the needs of reform in those states that have not already acceded to the EU, or do not qualify for, or seek, membership, differ in crucial respects from those in the new member states of EU from CEE and thus need special attention.

    It was suggested that NISPACEE provides an ideal forum in which to investigate such claims across a number of different affected countries, and to convene a group of experienced and interested professionals to begin a search for explanations and possible solutions.

    Research Plan
    The aims of the panel will be to find agreement, among those with relevant experience and knowledge, on theoretical explanations of the kind of shortcomings listed above, and on that basis to make recommendations for possible improvements in the practical design and implementation of projects of PAR. The Group will thus try to assess the comparative importance of domestic and external factors in explaining outcomes of PAR, and look for remedies and improvements on the part of both donors and recipients of aid targeted at PAR. However, the focus will also be on the concept of PAR itself, and the Group will seek to identify wider implications, for the government of states in CEE and the CIS, in the manner by which PAR strategies and programmes have been conceived and implemented so far.

Papers are invited especially to include review of the existing literature on external and internal factors affecting the design and management of PAR, in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of previous work, while drawing suitable analytical conclusions from it.
Generally, the initial call for papers will not seek to obtain further case studies of PAR, and will rather emphasise the need both for analytical treatment of the causes of PAR outcomes (comparatively as well as in particular local contexts), and for theoretical speculations based on such analysis. It would be intended to publish the papers that reach a sufficient standard, along with general assessments, in an edited volume for publication.

The writers of papers are encouraged to pay special attention to differences between states that have now acceded to the EU and those that expect accession in future, as well as between both those categories and states that do not see EU membership as a future option. At the same time, the Group will want to derive relevant lessons from the previous experience of the new EU members from CEE.

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