The 28th NISPAcee Annual Conference

Conference photos available

Conference photos available

In the conference participated 317 participants

Conference programme published

Almost 250 conference participants from 36 countries participated

Conference Report

The 28th NISPAcee Annual Conference cancelled

The 29th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Ljubljana, Slovenia, October 21 - October 23, 2021

The 2020 NISPAcee On-line Conference

The 30th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Bucharest, Romania, June 2 - June 4, 2022

...Sessions were interesting, scholars were engaging and all the social events were amazing!

B.K., Kazakhstan, 26th NISPAcee Annual Conference 2018, Iasi

Excellent organization, excellent food. Compliments to the organizers, they did a wonderful job!

V.J., Netherlands, 26th NISPAcee Annual Conference 2018, Iasi

...I must say that the PhD pre-conference seminar was the most useful seminar of my life. Very well...

K.V., Czech Republic, 26th NISPAcee Annual Conference 2018, Iasi

... I would even argue that they are the very best - both in terms of scientific content and also entertainment…

P.W., Denmark, 26th NISPAcee Annual Conference 2018, Iasi

An opportunity to learn from other researchers and other countries' experiences on certain topics.

G.A.C., Hungary, 25th Conference 2017, Kazan

Very well organised, excellent programme and fruitful discussions.

M.M.S., Slovakia, 25th Conference 2017, Kazan

The NISPAcee conference remains a very interesting conference.

M.D.V., Netherlands, 25th Conference 2017, Kazan

Thank you for the opportunity to be there, and for the work of the organisers.

D.Z., Hungary, 24th Conference 2016, Zagreb

Well organized, as always. Excellent conference topic and paper selection.

M.S., Serbia, 23rd Conference 2015, Georgia

Perfect conference. Well organised. Very informative.

M.deV., Netherlands, 22nd Conference 2014, Hungary

Excellent conference. Congratulations!

S. C., United States, 20th Conference 2012, Republic of Macedonia

Thanks for organising the pre-conference activity. I benefited significantly!

R. U., Uzbekistan, 19th Conference, Varna 2011

Each information I got, was received perfectly in time!

L. S., Latvia, 21st Conference 2013, Serbia

The Conference was very academically fruitful!

M. K., Republic of Macedonia, 20th Conference 2012, Republic of Macedonia

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Panel: Politico-Administrative Relations in CEE


  • Bernadette Connaughton, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick, Ireland
Dr Bernadette Connaughton is a Lecturer in Public Administration and served as Head, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick, from 2012-2015. Her teaching and research interests include comparative politico-administrative relations, ministerial advisers, environmental policy, and Europeanisation. From 2002-2008 she co-chaired the NISPAcee working group on Politico-Administrative Relations with Georg Sootla and B.Guy Peters. Her recent publications include a chapter in Ministers, Minders and Mandarins: An International Study of Relationships at the Executive Summit of  Parliamentary Democracies (eds R. Shaw and C. Eichbaum) and a book The Implementation of Environmental Policy in Ireland: Lessons from translating EU directives into action (MUP in press).
  • Katarina Staronova, Institute of Public Policy, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia
Katarina Staronova graduated from Wagner School of Public Service, New York University USA and Central European University Budapest, Hungary. She hold PhD. from political science at Comenius University Bratislava Slovakia. In 2003 she worked as a research fellow at Woodrow Wilson Research Center, Washington D.C., USA.
She is an associate professor at the Institute of Public Policy, Comenius University Bratislava, Slovakia, having co-founded it in 2005 and which offers first MPA program in Slovakia. At the same time she teaches at the Leadership program of RANEPA, Moscow since 2018 and is a guest lecturer at several Universities in CEE countries. Her research/scientific activities specialize on politico-administrative relations, public administration modernization, civil service reform, the process of public policy creation (including the transposition process), etc. She was part of a working group at the Government Office Slovakia, preparing Strategy for human resource management in the public sector 2015-2020, and in creating the new Civil Service Law, which came into effect on 1 June 2017. She is an author of numerous academic articles and studies on issues in civil service, e.g. baseline report on Individual Performance Appraisal in Central Government Organizations in Western Balkans.
She also works as a consultant in the issues of public administration reform, civil service management and policy capacity of civil servants for the World Bank, UNDP, and OECD, where she has participated in analytical missions in countries such as Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Moldova, Kosovo, Georgia, Romania and others.


The theme of Politico-Administrative Relations (PAR) and its focus on observing the roles and interplay between ministers and senior bureaucrats endures, both as a scholarly enquiry and as a practitioner concern. In Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), politico-administrative relations present a variety of arrangements across country settings that are shaped by many factors, including public administration tradition, political culture, institutional conditions, and levels of trust. The civil service reforms implemented by CEE governments and their preparation for EU entry have yielded piecemeal results and lack in continuity (Nakrosis and Gudzinskas, 2012; Meyer-Sahling, 2009). In addition, how the internal political-administrative environment operates is influenced by external factors, such as the rise of populist parties and instability across Europe, a general mistrust of experts and scientific evidence, the influence of social media, and a decade of crisis in the EU. 

In the past two decades the bilateral relationship between politicians and bureaucrats has broadened to include the role of the ministerial adviser – a politically appointed ‘temporary public servant’ or as appointees who advises the minister and plays a role in the politics of policy making (see Shaw and Eichbaum, 2018; Hustedt, Kollveit and Houlberg Salomonsen). An extension of the bilateral relationship to a trilateral one necessitates a better understanding of the roles and policy impacts of these actors and their relationships/exchanges with each other. This may be presented as the minister at one point of a triangle, senior civil servants at the second and ministerial advisers at the third point (Connaughton, 2010). The scholarship on this third point of the triangle has stretched beyond the empirical studies of the institutional arrangements in Westminster systems (Eichbaum and Shaw, 2010), to studies incorporating other political-administrative traditions (Silva, 2017; Gouglas, 2015). The empirical insights from CEE countries on advisers in particular and a comparative analysis of ministers, civil servants and advisers more broadly is, however, both under-represented and underdeveloped in the literature (see Sedlačko, Staroňová 2016 as an illustration of the contributions to date).

Theoretical perspectives:

Conceptually, politico-administrative relations are underpinned by Weber’s interpretations of bureaucracy and the so-called Wilsonian politics-administration dichotomy which advocates a strict separation between political and administrative activities. Although largely viewed as a ‘myth’, the PA dichotomy is recognised as a basis for understanding the interplay between ministers and politicians and has developed into a ‘can’t live with-can’t live without’ concept in public administration.  It can be used theoretically or analytically to uphold an abstract distinction between politics and administration in order to explore our understandings of institutions or officials of government (Overeem, 2009).

From this we may link interpretations and concerns about the phenomena of politicisation, which impacts on relationships between ministers (with other top level political appointees) and senior bureaucrats, and on policy implementation. It potentially weaves the bilateral relationship into a web of dependencies and interdependencies that may influence the integrity of civil servants and militates against the development of a stable professional bureaucracy. At the same time, some research suggests that professional politicisation may not inevitably decrease the capacity of bureaucracy (Peters, 2013). To the contrary, the political appointees may be professionals at the same time. The advent of advisers brings another dimension to understanding politicisation impacts. More generally, it is recognised that politicisation takes several forms in politico-administrative relations. It is regarded as the substitution of political criteria for merit based criteria in appointments (Peters and Pierre, 2004), functional politicisation (Hustedt and Salomonsen, 2014) and administrative politicisation (Eichbaum and Shaw, 2008), which takes into account the advent of advisers. In addition, politicisation has been used interchangeably with patronage to capture the patterns and effects of partisan appointments on the capacity and legitimacy of government. There is no shortage of literature published on politico-administrative relations and civil service reform in CEE (Staronova and Gajduschek, 2014; Meyer Sahling and Veen, 2012; Dimitrova, 2002) which indicates the diversity of the countries and the many factors influencing PAR relationships. The introduction of advisers/partisan appointments may introduce different interpretations of politicisation patterns and public administration capacity, therefore deserving more attention.

Call for papers on politico-administrative relations:

Between 1998 and 2008 NISPAcee promoted a permanent working group on politico-administrative relations. The initial rationale for the working group was to initiate the development of national case studies in CEE as this was regarded as a means to understanding the impediments of creating effective working relationships between ministers and civil servants, and building capacities in the policy making process. In particular, the necessity of an effective interface between politics and administration was regarded as imperative to the administrative development process in Central and Eastern Europe and preparation for EU membership. While public administration literature on CEE has flourished on, it is opportune to revisit these topics within the forum of NISPAcee to take cognisance of the trilateral relationship between ministers, civil servants and advisers and developments in how the policy making process is conducted. In addition, PAR reform appears only partially achieved in CEE and this is also influenced by developments in the domestic political environment and by external drivers.

This panel aims to bring together scholars from different countries and professional backgrounds to consider theoretical perspectives and discuss empirical findings on politico-administrative relations in CEE and the impact of the trilateral relationship between ministers, civil servants and advisers on the policy making process.
Submissions may include, but are not limited, to papers on the:

•    Assessments of politico-administrative relations in CEE and comparative papers;
•    Role of ministerial advisers (partisan appointees, special advisers, policy adviser) in CEE and their institutional arrangements;
•    Effects of politicisation on senior appointments and civil service development; policy making, implementation and overall public administration performance (including EU policy delivery);
•    Exploring different forms of politicisation and patronage;
•    Novel ways of measuring the scope and extent of politicization in civil service systems.