Politics Versus Policy: Technocratic Traps of Post-Soviet Reforms

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room (1219 International Affairs Building, 420 W 118th St)

Please join us for a talk with Vladimir Gel'man (European University at St. Petersburg and University of Helsinki).

A number of policy reforms in post-Soviet countries and beyond have been conducted within the framework of the technocratic model. Policy proposals have been developed and to some extent implemented by certain teams of professionals appointed by legitimate political leaders. The leaders, in turn, have tended to monopolize policy adoption and evaluation and to insulate the substance of reforms from public opinion. Vladimir Gel'man's presentation will present a critical reassessment of the technocratic model of policy-making in the context of the post-Soviet changes of the 1990s–2010s. The main focus of his analysis is on the political and institutional constraints of policy-making resulting from the influence of interest groups and mechanisms of governance within the state apparatus. Poor quality of governance and rent-seeking aspirations of major actors create significant barriers for reforms, while insulation of policy-making, although beneficial for technocratic reformers themselves, has resulted in an increase to the social costs of reforms and distorted their substantive outcomes. Possibilities and opportunities for alternatives to the technocratic model will be discussed.