European Association for Public Administration Accreditation

III. Working Group on Strategic Leadership in Central Government

WG Programme Coordinators:
Martin Brusis
, Centre for Applied Policy Research, University of Munich, Germany
Email: martin.brusis@lrz.uni-muenchen.de
Radoslaw Zubek, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
Email: r.zubek@lse.ac.uk

NISPAcee Project Manager:

Michal Luciak, Email: luciak@nispa.org


The aim of the working group is to investigate the institutional underpinnings of strategic leadership in central government. The working group provides a forum for scholars and practitioners to exchange ideas and experience with strategic decision-making in Central and Eastern Europe.

Strategic leadership is understood here as a capacity of the central government to make and implement policy decisions that are anticipatory, future-committed, integrative and welfare-maximizing; that are knowledge-based and consider dynamic policy externalities and interdependencies; and that are informed by a longer-term perspective going beyond immediate re-election concerns.

Strategic leadership is normally the preserve of the core executive - all those institutions located at the centre of government that are attached to the chief executive or the cabinet. For a core to provide this leadership, it must ensure a strategic orientation at all stages of the policy process.


This research initiative is taken against the following empirical/conceptual background:
  • Over the last decade most transition countries in Central and Eastern Europe have tried to 'governmentalize' their executives or transform them from subordinate administrative bodies into 'political government' after the disappearance of the communist party. In essence this process has been about reconfiguring political guidance mechanisms within the executive with a view to ensuring a smooth translation of the political leadership's priorities into sound public policies. The working group will position its research within this broad tradition of core executive studies.
  • If political government is to prevail over a government of technical bureaucrats on the one hand and a government of vote-maximizing politicians on the other, the 'central minds of government' need to be reinforced. In the first place this involves the reinforcement of the core executive's capacity to ensure a strategic orientation in decision-making. Ways to develop strategic capacities at the centre of government are the key theme for the working group.
  • The negative legacies of central planning have contributed to a wider neglect of strategically guided policy-making in Central and Eastern Europe. At present strategic decision-making is weakly developed in the region for reasons of skills, structures and knowledge. The role models of a technocratic expert or political advisor with limited policy know-how have dominated policy-making. Ministerial administration has continued to be sectoralized and vertically segmented, with horizontal integration confined to the top level. This has undermined inter-agency coordination and has discouraged attempts to introduce horizontal, cross-cutting aspects into the preparation and implementation of policies. Finally, the knowledge base of decision-making has been weak, given the intransparency and lack of communication between ministerial bureaucracies. Policies to overcome these deficiencies will be discussed in the working group.
  • The effects of institutional arrangements on policy performance have recently become subject to more systematic research. Recognizing the relevance of institutions for policy performance, international agencies are applying new diagnostic and monitoring instruments. The World Bank and the OECD are developing second generation governance indicators; the EU Commission has elaborated detailed indicators of progress in EU accession and uses benchmarks in its open method of coordination. The working group will provide a vehicle for the further development of performance diagnostics in order to improve the knowledge base for decision-makers and planners in CEE governments.

Research guidelines:
 view webpage  or  download .doc file 

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