European Association for Public Administration Accreditation

I. Working Group on Local Government
WG Programme Coordinators:

Gabor Soos, Tocqueville Research Center, Budapest, Hungary
E-mail:  gabor.soos@tokvil.net
Temmes Markku, University of Helsinki, Department of Political Science, Finland
Email: temmes@mappi.helsinki.fi

Topic 2010: Local Government Reforms in CEE and the CIS

1. Call for Papers – 18th NISPAcee Annual Conference (Warsaw)

The third year of the Working Group on Local Government focuses on the effects of the global economic crisis on local governments in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It aims to analyse the various forms of local responses to new pressures, the intended and unintended consequences of LG strategies under great strain, and the lessons one can draw concerning future crises.

The coordinators expect papers on the following topics.

1. Financing: Economic crises have an obvious effect on the budget of local governments. The papers are expected to demonstrate the particular impact of the present development in local finance and the responses that austerity packages evoke in local governments.

2. Regional differences: Cards are reshuffled in crisis. Disadvantaged cities and regions may lose their chance to quickly catch up, but may also find new opportunities. Well-developed regions may (ab)use their position as economic locomotives to cement their privileges, but may also end up as losers if they do not accommodate successfully. Papers should discuss how regional differences and the (uneven) access of regions to development resources have changed in crisis.

3. Social problems: The rapidly deteriorating economic situation, especially rising unemployment, strains the social systems of local governments too. Social problems often lead to increasing ethnic, religious or class conflicts. Papers are expected to demonstrate how and to what degree LGs can cope with new social problems. Coordinators have a special interest in company towns and specialized cities where a single firm or industry dominates the local economy, causing specific social problems in crisis, or, on the contrary, giving a chance to avoid crises.

4. Reforms: Crises may or may not increase the likelihood of public administration reforms. Procrastination often ends under the pressures of a new reality. In other cases, long-prepared reforms effectively stall by the deterioration of the previously favourable conditions. For example, crisis facilitates the reform of local finance or structural reforms (e.g. regionalization) under certain circumstances, and impedes them under others. The assessment of various experiences could greatly enrich the literature of PA reforms.

Given the focus of the topic, contributions are expected to be empirical (no general legal analysis or philosophy this time). Coordinators give priority to papers that are written in a well-structured manner. Comparative papers, both cross-country and within-country analyses, are especially welcome. A stand-alone book with the best conference papers is to be published as an outcome of the Warsaw meeting.

2. The Working Group on Local Government

The Working Group on Local Government of NISPAcee was established in 2008. The Working Group invites researchers and practitioners to take part in a project aimed at exploring into the reforms of, and at, the local government level in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

The theme of the working group is the local government. By using the term of local government we prefer the broader context of governance than only the internal machinery of local administration. The core of the mission of the working group is built around the comparative analysis of the local government developments in the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) area. The developments are also compared with the European and Anglo-Saxon local administration models as well as with the theories of self governance and decentralization.

The Working Group especially focuses on local government reforms. Members are expected to compare the challenges CEE countries face, identify the trends and waves of changes, and draw conclusions about convergence and divergence within CEE and between the CEE countries and the rest of Europe. The reforms examined by the group include both large-scale structural changes of public administration and small-scale managerial reforms initiated by local decision-makers. Contributions are encouraged especially in the following topics:

- multi-level governance (different solutions in use in various European countries in division of work between layers of the administrative machinery, relationships between sub-national levels, the consequences of regional reforms);

- local network governance (the usefulness is this fashionable term in the CEE countries, forms of cooperation with other administrative agencies, business and important civil society groups);

- e-governance and e-democracy (possibilities, problems and expenditures especially according to needs of the CEE countries);

- metropolitan governance (the consequences of the rapid suburbanization process of the 1990s, the need for urban administrative development, the challenge of the capital city).

All these parts of research fields can be analysed by using political, administrative, cultural and economic views.

The first event of the Working Group in Bratislava (2008) collected various papers on local governments in CEE and the CIS. The second gathering in Budva (2009) had a more specific focus on city-regions. A volume is being published with 10 papers by the time of the conference.

3. Working Group Directors and Members

Markku Temmes is a professor of Public Administration in Helsinki University. He has also a long career in the Finnish administration as a civil servant responsible of the administrative reform activities and in-service training.

Gabor Soos is research director of the Tocqueville Research Center, Budapest. He holds PhD in Political Science, MA in Sociology, and MA in History. He edited and co-edited three books on local government in Central and Eastern Europe.

Potential working group members will come from both academic institutions working in local administrative science and from the practitioners who are involved the development of the local administrations in the CEE and the CIS countries.

You may see the accepted  presentations scheduled
in the Preliminary Conference Programme

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