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  • 1.
    De Vries, Michael
    et al.
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    Sobis, Iwona
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    Beyond Blame: Debunking the myths underlying the foreign aid debate2006In: 2nd International Conference on Public Management:: 21st Century Oppurtunities and Challenges, 2006, p. 15 s.-Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    During the transition process in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the post-socialist countries received much support from Western high developed countries in order to improve the effectiveness of their public administrationand to adapt it to the demands given by the EU. Similar as it was with foreign aid for Latin American, African and Asian countries before, this support was, to say the least, not always effective. The question this paper addresses is how to understand such failures. To answer that question we reviewed the literature on the subject of foreign aid. In that literature an increasing radicalism about foreign aid, based on dubious assumptions, is observed. These assumptions are that the quantity of aid as such makes a difference, that nobody in the aid business cares, that optimizing the input, process and output in organizational and managerial terms will almost automatically improve effectiveness, and that there exists a coherent aid industry.

    This paper explicates the assumptions, and treats them as hypotheses. The conclusion, based on research into the aid given to CEE-countries during their transition process, is that the hypotheses have to be refuted. The assumptions underlying the debate about foreign aid are one-sided and false

  • 2. de Vries, Michiel. S.
    et al.
    Sobis, Iwona
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    The Role of Experts in Local Government2005In: Institutional requirements and problem solving in the public administrations of the enlarged European Union and its neighbours: selected papers from the 12th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Vilnius, 2004 / [ed] György Jenei, Alexei Barabashev, Frits van den Berg, Bratislava: Network of Institutes and Schools of Public Administration in Central and Eastern Europe: NISPAcee , 2005, p. 119-141Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 3.
    Schuller, Bernd-Joachim
    et al.
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    Sobis, Iwona
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    The Lisbon Strategy and European International Competitiveness in a Gender Perspective: Are economies with higher ambitions for female equality performing better?2005In: Mölle 2005: the 7th Annual SNEE European integration conference, Swedish Network for European Studies in Economics and Business (SNEE) , 2005Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    At least according to the Swedish public debate, men and women are not treated equally. There are differences in income, employment, unemployment, carrier possibilities, but even in education opportunities, especially post graduate studies, and in medical treatment, which cannot be explained. Though one should be careful to use the expression of discrimination, when people of different sex or ethnic background are treated differently, it seems that at least in Sweden - and probably even in other European countries – income differences cannot be explained with differences in labour productivity. Therefore our first conclusion is that discrimination is existing, that people with different sex and different ethnic background are treated differently. Gary Becker, in his Economics of Discrimination, has discussed, how discrimination is influencing among other aspects the total economy, e.g. expressed in GDP (in constant prices). Based on Becker we would expect that discrimination influences the total economy negatively. In this paper, we are investigating, whether we can see signs of female discrimination, i.e. we are excluding ethnic aspects. Furthermore, we are investigating the relation or relations between female discrimination and macroeconomic performance, expressed as growth, employment, price stability, GDPpc and net exports. Macroeconomic performance will be expressed by an index. If female discrimination in Europe is existing and influences macroeconomic performance negatively, this has important implication for the Lisbon agenda, which aims at making the EU the “... the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy,...capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion”. If female discrimination influences macroeconomic performance negatively, and if there is female discrimination in post graduate education, then female discrimination makes it more difficult to achieve the goals of the Lisbon agenda.

  • 4.
    Sobis, Iwona
    et al.
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    de Vries, M
    Pawns On A Chessboard: The role of donor organizations during the transition process2007In: Post-Communist Public Administration: Restoring Professionalism and Accountability, NISPAcee , 2007, p. 189-217Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 5.
    Sobis, Iwona
    et al.
    University of Skövde, School of Humanities and Informatics.
    De vries, M
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    The Non-implementation of Western Assistance Programmes: The advisor’s point of view. Chapter in Implementation2006In: Implementation: The missing link in public administration reform in central and eastern Europe, NISPAcee , 2006, p. 65-90Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 6.
    Sobis, Iwona
    et al.
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    de Vries, M
    The politics behind aiding administrative reform: Swedish politicians’ views on the technical assistance to CEE countries during their transition process2007In: 15th NISPAcee Annual Conference “Leadership and Management in the Public Sector: Values, Standards and Competencies in Central and Estern Europe, 2007Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Previous research by the authors on the Western assistance to CEE countries during the transition process revealed that it was often ineffective and that priorities in and the nature of aid changed irrespective of negative side-effect on ongoing processes. Recipients blamed foreign advisors for giving inadequate advice; the Swedish foreign advisors pointed to the aid organizations, which did not provide adequate boundary conditions; and the latter told us that it was all politics, decided by consecutive ministers in the Swedish government (Sobis & De Vries, 2004, 2005, 2006, De Vries & Sobis, 2006). This paper is a follow-up on this previous research. In this paper we investigate the motives and reasons behind the assistance programs from the perspective of the Swedish government, which was responsible for this kind of aid. How did Swedish government arrive at decisions regarding the technical assistance to CEE countries and changes therein? The aim of this research is to gain further insight in the explaining factors of the (in)effectiveness of foreign assistance programs. The research question underlying this investigation reads: What were the characteristics of the position of Swedish government with regard to foreign assistance to CEE countries? How did these change during the last 15 years and what were the determining factors explaining these developments? In neo institutional theory two explaining factors are mentioned: the logic of consequentiality and the logic of appropriateness. (March & Olsen, 1989). The research presented in this paper will be framed within this theory. The description of this theory constitutes the first part of the paper. This theoretical part is followed by the presentation of our empirical research. This empirical research is based, firstly, on interviews with the Swedish officials: the Prime Ministers, the representative of Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the representative of Finance Ministry, who were politically active during the years of 1988-1997. Secondly it is based on an analysis of the diaries written by the Swedish officials who were political active during the years 1988-1997, and by some politicians who are still politically active today. Thirdly, it based on an analysis of the Swedish statute-books, government bills, resolutions and reports. The paper concludes on the question which logic (of consequentiality or of appropriateness) was dominant in explaining the decisions made by the Swedish government regarding assistance to CEE countries during the transition process.

  • 7.
    Sobis, Iwona
    et al.
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    de Vries, M S
    The politics behind aiding administrative reform: Swedish politicians’ views on the technical assistance to CEE countries during their transition process2008In: Leadership and management in the public sector: Values, Standards and Competencies in Central and Eastern Europe, NISPASee , 2008, p. 133-162Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 8.
    Sobis, Iwona
    et al.
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    de Vries, Michiel S.
    Radboud University Nijmegen.
    Restoring Professionalism: What Can Public Administration Learn from Social Psychology?2010In: State and Administration in a Changing World: Selected Papers from the 17th NISPAcee Annual Conference / [ed] Juraj Nemec, B. Guy Peters, Bratislava: NISPAcee Press , 2010, p. 95-125Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Administrative reform is about changing structures, institutions and about changing the attitudes, motives and work conduct of the people working within those structures. Our previous research (Sobis and De Vries 2008) into the process of technical assistance to governments in CEE countries in transition, during the period 1990-2004, found that the ineffectiveness thereof was due to a combination of problems. We pointed to a combination of contrary objectives among the organisations involved and awkward resource dependencies within the aid-chain, and also to the emergence of a specific kind of attitude among professionals. In public administration, one often thinks that performance measurement, monitoring and evaluations can solve that problem. This approach, however, has proven to have serious negative side effects. The main objective of this paper is to search for alternatives to this approach.

    In this paper, we seek these alternatives within the discipline of social psychology. This discipline sees human behaviour as the result of the interaction of mental states and immediate social situations. We will argue that public administration can learn from theories in social psychology and the application thereof to organisational behaviour in the public sector. An application on the technical assistance by western advisors to the governments in CEE countries in transition illustrates the findings.

  • 9.
    Sobis, Iwona
    et al.
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    de Vries, Michiel S.
    Searching for Professionalism: The Provision of Technical Assistance to Local Government in CEE-Countries During their Transition Process2009In: Public Policy and Administration: Challenges and Synergies. Selected Papers from the 16th NISPAcee Annual Conference / [ed] K. Staronová & L. Vass, NISPAcee Press , 2009, p. 181-214Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 10.
    Sobis, Iwona
    et al.
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    de Vries, Michiel S.
    Public Administration at the Department of Public Administration, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
    Technical cooperation within the context of foreign aid: trends for the CEE countries in transition (1991-2004)2009In: International Review of Administrative Sciences, ISSN 0020-8523, E-ISSN 1461-7226, Vol. 75, no 4, p. 565-584Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article investigates technical assistance (TA) to CEE countries in relation to development aid in general. There is plenty of literature examining the foreign aid, but specific components of aid, like technical assistance, remain largely unexplored. One debate about development aid focuses on whether aid is primarily given to improve the situation in the recipient countries or if this improvement is simply a side-effect from aid based on political-military factors. This article argues that development aid, unlike technical assistance, is often provided based on political-military factors with the accompanying side-effect of improving the situation. To investigate aid money to CEE countries during their transition (1990-2004), we used data from OECD DAC that distinguishes technical assistance as a component of foreign aid. The analysis shows that the foreign aid to CEE countries in general seems to have been largely determined by political factors while the money provided for TA is shown to be especially determined by the recipient countries' needs. The technical assistance has proved to be much more sustainable. The article concludes that empirical research should analyze the components of aid separately.

  • 11.
    Sobis, Iwona
    et al.
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    de Vries, Michiel S.
    University of Nijmegen.
    The Role of Outside Experts in Local Government2004Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper addresses the role of experts in decision making in local government. Departing from theories about professionals and technocrats in decision making processes the question arises how much influence these experts have in policymaking processes. This paper addresses this question and discusses the role of western experts in adapting the social security system to EU requirements in a Polish community under the PHARE program. This is a critical case, because comparative figures show that local policymakers in East-European countries have a relatively large trust in experts and that, because of the money involved the Polish policymakers were heavily dependent on the experts. These facts result in the expectation that the experts’ advice would be humbly accepted. The case study shows, however, that many recommendations do not get a follow up. The degree to which that is the cases, seems to depend on the contents of the recommendations, the arrogance of the experts and the degree to which the recommendations are suited to the specific characteristics of the recipients situation.

  • 12.
    Sobis, Iwona
    et al.
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    de Vries, Michiel S.
    Radboud University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
    The Story Behind Western Advice to Central Europe During its Transition Period2009 (ed. 1)Book (Other academic)
  • 13.
    Sobis, Iwona
    et al.
    University of Skövde, School of Technology and Society.
    de Vries, Michiel S.
    Radboud University Nijmegen, School of Technology and Society, Dept. of Public Administration.
    Western Advice in CEE Countries: The Swedish experts' view2005In: the 13th NISPAcee Annual Conference, 2005Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In the transition process many 'experts' from international organizations and Western countries came to CEE countries to enable them to become EU members, to advise them on policy issues and to help them improve their situation. Despite the spread of such experts and the costs involved, little is known until now about the substance of their advice, nor of the extent to which such advice has an effect, that is, is implemented. Although offstage sometimes the most horrible but also positive stories are heard it is not yet systematically investigated what is done by these 'experts' and what effect they brought about. In the literature much is known about how they should behave, (see f.i. Ieva Lazareviciute, How to Be a Better Policy Advisor? Manual for trainers, Nispacee, 2003), but the question remains whether this is reflected in practice.

    This paper addresses this issue. It starts by summarizing the literature about the desired substance of advice. This provides the yardstick for the second part of paper in which we first investigate the advisory process from the experts' point of view and second, the process as seen from the point of view of recipients. The empirical part is based on a number of interviews in which such advisors were the respondents. If possible we will also present the outcomes of a research among policy makers being the recipients of such advice. Subsequently, the empirical results will be compared to the yardstick in order to judge the advisors role in CEE countries.

1 - 13 of 13
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