tarasenko, anna

Division Means no Competition? The Case Study of the Nonprofit Sector in St. Petersburg

The paper examines neocorporatism as a key principle of cooperation between civil society and authorities in contemporary Russia and its impact on the competition between NGOs. The neocorporatist principle entails that authorities divide civic organizations as either collaborative or contentious and incorporate the former into decision making. This results in a deep division within the third sector and impedes collaboration as well as competition between NGOs. This paper examines, first, NGO membership of consultative bodies and, second, state financial support to nonprofit organizations as examples of the neocorporatist logic in the case of St. Petersburg.

First, the officially appointed members of consultative bodies (such as the Public Council of St. Petersburg under the head of the government) are primarily representatives of public organizations (hospitals, universities etc.), GONGOs (Government Organized Nongovernmental Organization, for instance veteran organizations), businessmen, and popular public figures. Simultaneously, civic organizations working in the social sphere, human rights, and leisure activity are almost excluded from participation. Relying on empirical evidences, I argue that the authorities’ selection principles discourage competition and therefore limit representation.

Second, recently adopted government programs enable NGOs to receive state support for social programs on the basis of open competition. However, the range of recipients demonstrates that authorities tend to support organizations which have already been involved into cooperation with state agencies. The gap between the principle of open competition and the existing practice discourage NGOs to compete for the state resources.

Concluding, the neocorporatist principle in the case of St. Petersburg not only discourages the competition between NGOs but also restricts incentives for cooperation among them. Despite formal regulations favoring competition principle between NGOs for the access to decision making and state support the existing practices disregard it. This results in a division of the nonprofit sector and lack of incentives to compete for resources.

Thursday 25 October 10:15-12:15 Panels IV, Panel 10 Social Welfare and Civil Society in Transformation (Hall 7)