European Association for Public Administration Accreditation

Main Conference Theme

Mirko Vintar, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
E-mail: mirko.vintar@fu.uni-lj.si
Gyorgy Jenei, Corvinus University of Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
E-mail: gyorgy.jenei@uni-corvinus.hu
Allan Rosenbaum, Florida International University, Department of Public Administration, Miami, United States

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the beginning of a period of very substantial and, in some instances, highly volatile political, economic and social change in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. This, and other subsequent events, triggered a series of waves of transition that led to the emergence of market economies and democratic institution building in many of the countries of the region. From the very beginning, these processes were accompanied by a steady in-flow into the region of advisers, consultants, bankers, economists and academics from the West. This, in turn, led to many new forms of cooperation between East and West in the fields of public administration and public policy. However, two decades of experience since those historic days, have shown that while in many instances this often highly welcomed cooperation produced the anticipated positive results, in many instances the outcome of this cooperation did not go as planned and did not meet the hoped for expectations.

It was 20 years ago that the Network of Institutes and Schools of Public Administration of Central and Eastern Europe (NISPAcee) was established for the purpose of providing an institutional framework and a vibrant professional association, which would serve to encourage the processes of modernization and transformation of the administrative systems of the region, as well as to encourage the spread of democratic principles and standards therein. One of several goals of NISPAcee was to ensure the free flow of knowledge, ideas, best practices and successful experience, both among the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and between east and west more generally. In addition, another central goal of NISPAcee was to link the practitioner community in the region with the academic and research community and, in so doing, to connect theory and practice.

In the 20 years since NISPAcee was founded, the transition processes in terms of the development of political, economic and administrative structures in most central and eastern European countries has proved to be both highly complex and somewhat unpredictable. Nevertheless, it has been a process, which in many respects, has been extraordinarily successful and a process to which NISPAcee’s member institutions, and the Association as a whole, has in many ways contributed. While this period of transition has, for many central and eastern European countries, been almost completed, or at least is in its final stages, many of the theoretical and practical aspects of these processes and their impact (both positive and negative) on the social, political, economic and administrative systems of the individual countries still require in-depth scientific analysis.

The conferences, workshops, publications and training that NISPAcee has provided to institutions and individuals within the region have served to encourage greater cooperation, both within and among countries, as well as the transfer of knowledge, ideas and experience between the East and the West. Equally as important, NISPAcee has played a major role, both in helping to provide individuals with the skills required to engage effectively in local and national policy making processes, and has, through many of its projects, served to connect the academic and the policy making communities. In so doing, the organization has helped to build the foundation upon which the modernization and development of administrative systems throughout the region have been built.

Nevertheless, twenty years of experience have also shown that the transfer of knowledge is not, and should not be, simply a "one-way street” or a "copy and paste” approach to governmental reform. It has further demonstrated that models and solutions which have proven to be effective in one country or another cannot simply be transferred across borders and copied onto other environments. Indeed, 20 years of highly productive institutional development has demonstrated that while there are certainly many basic principles that are applicable in almost all situations, the specific and individual contexts must always be taken into account.

The 20th anniversary of NISPAcee is not only an important milestone for the organization, but it also provides an excellent opportunity to examine, in a more detailed manner, the considerable institutional development that has taken place within the region, as well as the role that East-West relations has played in these processes. As the principal organization promoting comprehensive scientific and professional analysis of these developments in the CEE region, NISPAcee is well positioned to lead the efforts to provide a clearer and more comprehensive picture of the processes of transformation that have occurred. Such an initiative will serve as a means to assess the strengths and weaknesses of these developments and, in so doing, further refine existing models and the approaches required to encourage further development. Such an effort will help to reposition NISPAcee to make even greater contributions to institutional development throughout the region over the course of the next 20 years. Consequently, in selecting the theme for NISPAcee’s jubilee conference in Ohrid, Macedonia, the NISPAcee Steering Committee and the conference theme coordinators have established three principal objectives:

1.Initiate, promote and organize an in-depth scientific, professional and empirical analysis and synthesis of East-West cooperation during the past twenty years and how it has contributed to institutional development throughout the region. Such an effort could provide the analysis which could serve as a reference and guide for further development of cooperation from all stakeholders’ points of view (governments, practitioners, academics, donors etc.). During the conference, based on the proposed and selected papers, appropriate plenary session discussions will be organized. In addition, panel and round table sessions will be organized which will involve individuals who have contributed significantly to the development and deepening of this cooperation (representatives of international organizations and institutions which have participated and supported this cooperation such as SIGMA, LGI, the EU, NASPAA, etc.).

2.Highlight and evaluate the NISPAcee role in the development of East-West cooperation in the past and, in so doing, assess its own progress and discuss the main trajectory of its actions in the future. This will serve, both to assess past development, and to help in articulating its future development strategy. During the conference, a special round table and/or panel discussion will be organized on the subject addressed above to which key individuals and prominent contributors, as well as others who have played major roles in its development and work during the past two decades will be invited to participate (ex-Presidents, SC members and some others) and to make short written contributions.

3.Based on selected keynote presentations and papers on the main conference theme, as well as discussions/presentations made at the round tables, a book will be published which will reflect the scientific and practical aspects of East-West cooperation in the field of public administration development and the role of NISPAcee in promoting these processes.

During this 20thanniversary conference, a series of sessions will be organised on the main theme and thus we are inviting and looking for conference papers which will highlight the following aspects/fields/dimensions of East-West cooperation:

-Comparative analysis of the development of public administration systems in western and eastern countries during the last twenty years and how (if at all) these developments influenced each other.

-Comparative studies of the development of political, administrative and legislative institutions in East-West countries and their practices.

-Analysis of impacts/successes/failure rates, etc. of various mechanisms, channels, activities, projects and programmes, which were used during the past two decades for the stimulation and development of East-West cooperation in different arenas -- political, professional, academic, research etc.

-Comparative analysis of developments in East and West countries in selected sectors i.e. public finances, health, social welfare, e-government etc. and how these developments influenced each other.

-What were the major lessons learned from various forms and programs of technical and financial support from West to East and how this learning can shape future collaboration.

-Analysis of the roles of institutions and international organisations in stimulation and provision of E/W cooperation (EU, OECD/SIGMA, LGI, NAASPA, EGPA, EAPAA, NISPAcee etc.).

-Comparative analysis of the development and results of East-West cooperation in terms of educational and in-service training programmes in the area of public administration/management/ policy.

-Identification and analysis of approaches/cases/examples where East-West cooperation was particularly successful or unsuccessful.

-Comparative analysis of approaches in East and West countries to manage the ’global financial and economic crisis’, and how this crisis will affect further development of the public sector in these countries and the further development of East-West cooperation.

How to make future East-West cooperation more of a ’two-way’ rather than a ’one-way street’ and to develop programmes of cooperation which will be beneficial for both sides.