Institutional Isomorphism in the Slavic Core of the Commonwealth of Independent States

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Institutional Isomorphism in the Slavic Core of the Commonwealth of Independent States. A Comparative Analysis of Institutional Change in the Post-Communist Transition Introduction: A Delineation of the Research Theory  Research Design and Methodology Conclusion.
Institutional Isomorphism in the Slavic Core of the Commonwealth of Independent StatesA Comparative Analysis of Institutional Change in the Post-Communist TransitionIntroduction: A Delineation of the ResearchTheory Research Design and MethodologyConclusionIntroduction: A Delineation of the Research
  • General background. implosion of the Soviet Regime --> renewed attention for Central and Eastern European area studies. good consequence of increased attention: disciplinary ‘widening and deepening’ of the research field  area studies & IR theory converged into discipline of post-Sovietology.
  • This widening and deepening of the research was a direct consequence of the widening and deepening of the Newly Independent States’ relations with the countries surrounding them.After being freed of foreign policy directives of isolationist Soviet bloc, the NIS have developed bilateral and multilateral ties with both West and East geopolitical post-Soviet entity turned into a significantly more complex picture than before.
  • Still, several developments along distinct lines can be observed - Central Europe has made an unambiguous Western choice by bidding for EU membership and striving to become part of the Euro-Atlantic security structures. - more complicated picture emerges in Eastern Europe. This region accommodates a whole range of divergent domestic and foreign policy choices.
  • establishment of the CIS on 8 December 1991 complicated the geopol situation in the post-Soviet space even more because it conjoined different countries with diverse policy goals into one organisation. Some member states (e.g. Ukr) perceived CIS as elegant solution to bring about a ‘civilised divorce’. Other members (e.g. Rus&Bel) saw main purpose in co-ordinating the econ and security policies among the Soviet successor states. Russia sees the CIS-construction as the ultimate framework to re-assert her leading role in the post-Soviet region. Ten years along the road of CIS integration, instit development of the CIS has stalled, and integration efforts have dissipated over the CIS area. The members of the CIS have become involved in a host of other sub-regional initiatives like the GUUAM, the Eurasian Econ Community, the Union between Rus & Bel, Common Econ Zone.
  • Research Questions
  • post-communist transition led to a heterogeneous political landscape - evolution from a unitary Soviet state to an area containing a variety of foreign policy goals ranging from EU membership to regional integration. In late 1997, Zatulin and Migranian recognised in an article that geopolitical pluralism had arrived in the former USSR - observed in different levels of state and society: the divergent policy preferences of the former Soviet states, in different political models on which the newly independent states based themselves during transition or diversity in economic transition and trade links.
  • I want to focus on how this geopolitical pluralism is reflected in the institutional change of the newly independent states.
  • Even though a lot of academic work and attention has been devoted to the study of non-state institutions, like the development of civil society, national identity and minority rights in the region, the analysis of state institutions are also crucial in the study of post-Soviet transition. It is in the institutional design that lie the determinants for domestic and international state behaviour and it is institutional change that outlines the new policy directions of a country. The most imp. motivation for studying state institutions is the fact that their divergent development corroborates geopolitical pluralism in the post-Soviet states.
  • All post-communist states needed to build new state inst and reorganise existing state administrations. These reforms aimed to institutionalise the new paradigms of market and democracy, and more importantly to pass the test of institutional performance. The enlargement process of the European Union and its screening procedures has demonstrated that from a western point of view, some states have successfully carried out their reforms (most of the Central European states), others were trailing behind (south-east Europe), and some countries are left ‘in the periphery’ of the European Union: Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. They are often called the ‘future outsider states’
  • I intend to situate these three former Union Republics-between two ‘organisational fields’ on the European continent: the EU & the CIS. Rus, Bel & Ukr each have developed their own political and instit transition. There are clear similarities and differences in the democratic development, the institutional build-up and the reorganisation of their administrations. The disparate institutional development and apparent divergence in foreign policy preferences can therefore lead to the question whether the institutions and state administration in these three countries have been drafted to the liking of the EU or of the CIS-co-operation structure. More specifically, the core question of this research is:
  • ‘Which mechanisms within the political institutions of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus generate ‘isomorphism’ toward the European Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States, and what is the rationale behind the divergent foreign policy orientations in the Slavic Core of the CIS?’
  • Choice of countries
  • rationale behind the selection of R, B & U is threefold. 1. they constitute a specific region that is crucial in the current European geopolitical landscape. Of the CIS region, these three countries matter the most for the future European Union. Ukraine and Belarus impt  will become new neighbours of the EU. Russia because of its dominant influence in the post-Soviet area, & for security & energy considerations
  • fact that these three countries constitute the Slavic core of the CIS connotes correlation and analogy. Many hist, pol, & cult similarities between 3 countries  allows us to apply MSSD and single out the differences from these predominantly similar backgrounds &study them.
  • most important reason for choosing these 3 states: differences in FP orientation. At first look, no immediate clear indicators that can explain discrepancies in foreign policies.Yet close scrutiny of the hist-pol context in which instit design & formation took place, (as well as puncture points that triggered institutional change during the transition period), uncover different picture.
  • Choice of institutions
  • Process and institution studies rather concentrate on development of lower-level comparisons of a particular institution or process, than on the comparison of complete political systems (Peters, 1998: 10). my case implies minute selection of those departments, divisions and institutional branches that deal with the drafting, design and implementation of foreign policy. Pres Admin, the MFA, and Parliament in 3 count.
  • Presidential Administration: crucial role in FP orientation. influence of the president and his advisers on the countries’ foreign policy stronger in presidential-parliamentary systems like R, U&B than in parl democracies of W-Eur countries. design main foreign policy objectives, officials draft policy-oriented proposals concerning both org fields CIS & EU.
  • MFA. > deep involvement in practicalities and implementation of FP directives  most extensive and comprehensive org structure with specific divisions (departamenty i upravleniya) in ministries for dealing with CIS & EU.
  • parliaments.  reassessed during post-comm transition, yet still have limited impact on domestic and FP, doesn’t match influence of Pres Adm or MFA. Still, formal committees (komitety) within this institution reflect upon policy towards both organisational fields, e.g. parl committee for CIS affairs in Russ State Duma, the committee for Eur Integration in Ukr Rada,
  • Theoretical framework
  • I define inst. as a formal organisation that determines behaviour, interests, and belief-systems and that structures relations between different groups in the national community and international order, and complement def. by Remington’s remark that ‘…They generate patterns in behaviour by creating incentives of varying strength’(Smith & Remington 2001: 7).
  • new instit: not unified school of thought. many different readings of instit theory, both in content and discipline. all agree that institutions do matter in way that soc, pol & econ inst have become larger, more complex and resourceful, & more impt to collective life. I support the idea that it is useful to ‘blend elements from the [contemporary] theoretical styles into an older concern with institutions’.
  • most applications struggle to come to terms with the aspect of instit change. specific questions of why institutions change, how process develops and whether certain models of institutional change can be distinguished: largely ignored & left unanswered. Some attempts e.g. normative instit tried to identify stimuli for instit change asserting this takes place through process of learning and adaptation. Yet particularly sociol institutionalism-more specif organis analysis succeeds in analysis of organisational change
  • sociol instit interdisciplinary perspective allows us to apply some of their innovative ideas on instit change in studying pol instit. Theory of institutional isomorphism might provide a satisfactory answer to the questions that rise when studying post-communist institutional processes in the Slavic core of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
  • instit isomorphism: first put forward by W Powell & P DiMaggio in 1983 article ‘The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organisational Fields’ (Am Sociol Review). P&D describe instit change as instit or org becoming increasingly similar (isomorphism).
  • But P&D: org more similar without necessarily becoming more efficient. most important goal not efficiency but legitimacy of org-ns. P&D stress actor’s belief that legitimacy > conforming to the general rules and norms; isomorphism
  • Similar processes of isomorphism can be witnessed in the post-communist transition of Central and Eastern Europe.  demise of Soviet institutions created certain void that called for inst-l reinterpretation. The NIS had to choose new path of development, to decide how to pull through the necessary econ & pol reforms, based on which values, and which state system. Looking East and West for inspiration for reforms is inherent to the transition processes.
  • It is the aim of this PhD to analyse the process of instit change in Slavic Core of CIS from theoretical perspective of inst isomorphism. More specifically, analyse how isomorphism surfaces through different stages in the institutions of the three selected countries. Secondly the issue of geopol pluralism in Slavic Core will be confronted by elaborating causal mechanisms of isomorphism.
  • There are 2 impt distinct stages that lead to inst isomorphism.
  • The first stage: comprises institutional definition towards an organisational field as a result of the activities of a diverse set of organisations. 2nd stage = homogenisation of these organisations and of new entrants once the field is established
  • These main tenets of isomorphism compose the basic theoretical exordium that will be elaborated in order to construct an inclusive and workable theoretical framework in sync with the specific situation in the Slavic Core of the CIS.
  • Stage 1: Institutional Definition towards organisational fields
  • org field consists of org that constitute recognised area of institutional life, e.g. regulatory agencies, a legal system, or a supranational org.
  • A first step: examine institutional definition of the three cases towards org fields surrounding them. supranational structures of the EU & CIS constitute 2 org fields that can influence instit structures of R, U & B. inst definition will be first assessed by literature review of relevant primary and secondary sources: analysis offic documents that reveal FP strategies towards EU & CIS.
  • Secondly, also empirical analysis of inst definition. Departing from 4 basic ‘org-al characteristics’. These characteristics contribute to deepening the interrelations between the centre& periphery of the organised whole (=the field), of which result is isomorphism.  
  • 4 org characteristics: (1) an increased interaction among organisations in the field (2) the emergence of sharply defined interorganisational structures of dominance and coalition (3) an increase in information load with which institutions and organisations in the field must contend (4) the development of a mutual awareness among participants in a set of organisations that they are involved in a common enterprise
  • through a systematic assessment of 4 org characteristics, institutional definition within selected countries signalling rapprochement with EU or integration into the CIS can be uncovered.  how: interviews
  • Stage 2: Homogenisation or Institutional Isomorphism
  • Isomorphism. In addition to institutional reform & redesigning since 1991, FP initiatives of the NIS reveal certain policy priorities that might suggest isomorphic processes  in order to obtain legitimacy vis-à-vis EU & or CIS.
  • 2nd stage of research will consist of a thorough evaluation of institutional change / redesigning of 3 countries’ selected institutions (pres admin, parl, MFA) since 1991. Consequently, FP priorities will be identified.
  • possible divergence in FP lead to issue of geopol pluralism  2nd part 2nd isomorphic stage. In this 2nd part, special focus on 2 aspects: 1. origins & patterns of inst change 2. how to explain variations in institutional change.
  • a. Origins and Patterns of Institutional Change
  • should uncover underlying reasons that led the institutions in R, U & B to redesign their inst so they would conform to org field (EU or CIS) become isomorphic. To identify these causal mechanisms and patterns of inst change  depart from 6 factors: coercive, mimetic and normative isomorphic processes, unsuccessful imitation, incomplete institutionalisation, and the recomposition of organisational fields.
  • b. Sources of Variation / Heterogeneity in Institutional Change
  • how to explain heterogeneity in 3 cases’ institutional change (leading to geop plur). heterogeneity has roots in different org-al responses to exogenous shocks that took place far back in history (their reaction to Russian Imperialisation, RRev, World Wars), & also diff responses to inst-al pressures or influence.
  • The reason for this heterogeneity lies partly in the fact that the development of organisational fields, the creation of institutionsand the change of these institutions are all history-dependent processes (Powell 1991:195).
  • instit emerge at different times under specific circumstances.  evolve according to divergent trajectories at varying speeds. certain practices in instit persist > lasting assumptions & complex interdependencies.  this points to path dependent patterns of development, in which initial choices preclude future options. to better understand factors that promote heterogeneity need to trace sources of divergence by exploring p.d. processes.
  • In sum, I asserted a new institutionalist approach to the issues of institutional change and geopolitical pluralism. More specifically, the theory of institutional isomorphism can form an innovative and adequate conceptual framework for the analysis of institutional change.
  • intended contribution to the field of research and to institutionalist theory is also twofold. 1. constructing theor framework to systematically map, instit change in the Slavic Core of the CIS. 2. paying attention to ‘weak points’ of the theory of inst isomorphism - ‘need for an enhanced understanding of both the sources of heterogeneity and the processes that generate institutional change’ (Powell)  by elaborating these issues, hope to contribute to making theory more comprehensive framework of analysis.
  • Methodology
  • 3 cases will be studied through qualit comp. analysis, MSSD.
  • legitimising a focus on a small-N: a.o. Studies of Theda Skocpol & Margaret Somers research cycle: 1) parallel demonstration of theory, 2) contrast of contexts, 3) macro-causal analysis  3 appr-oaches constitute complementary system. research will reflect features of these 3 distinct logics.internalise both path dep & comp. approaches by offering a model for comparing diff. contexts.
  • 1st step: analysing inst def. Of 3 countries towards org fields by verifying whether 4 org characteristics are present in the org. structures of the three selected countries (off doc & interviews). 2nd step isomorphism. I will depart from hypotheses suggested by P&D to test & identify the presence and pattern of isomorphism in countries’ instit. These hypotheses reflect the causal mechanisms. Adapt them to the cases via test interviews.
  • Fieldwork in general will take place by means of semi- structured qualitative interviewing. First, open-ended questions asked to stimulate interviewee to talk freely about his-her perception of def. Of inst they work in towards 2 organisational fields. Also closed questions on elaborated hypotheses. Nevertheless, main objective of interviews is to conduct an open discussion to learn the interviewee’s interpretation of the processes of isomorphism and its effect on the institutions they work in.
  • elite interviews in the different sections and departments of the 3 institutions (per country).
  • Target groups:
  • parliaments: committees.
  • MFA: diplomats working on the relations of their countries with EU-CIS
  • Pres Admin; possible diff of elite interviews (highest ranks of these political apparatus). Try, & methodol triangulation interviews complemented by qual analysis of offic policy documents drafted by the Pres Adm underscores the importance of the PrAd function, mapping the country’s foreign policy. (off doc TABEL!!!!)
  • additional methods:, analaysis primary sources e.g. parliamentary debates, bills and committee proceedings concerning external affairs (more specifically Europe and the CIS).
  • Conclusion
  • Aim: adequate theoretical and methodological framework for doctoral research
  • Research question:
  • ‘Which mechanisms within the political institutions of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus generate‘isomorphism’ toward the European Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States, and what is the rationale behind the divergent foreign policy orientations in the Slavic Core of the CIS?’ seek to explain motivations behind the geopol pluralism in post-Soviet area by analysing it through theory of institutional isomorphism.
  • 2 stages of isomorphist theory serve as main structure through which processes of instit isomorphic change can be studied
  • First: studying institutional definition of R, U & B toward org fields
  • second stage: investigate origins & patterns of insti change & sources of heterogeneity in isomorphic change.  can clarify cult & geogr. divisions between R, U & B
  • main advantage of theory of isomorphism = twofold 1. offers mechanism for examining how pol, hist & and cult determinants can influence the pol. org. & FP orientation of state. thereby it underscores importance of hist & cult factors, often neglected in the research of democratic transitions.  2. second advantage: theory’s wide applicability and its openness towards other
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