Conference e-mail

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Policymaking in Russia – Insights from Research on the Policy Process

Chair: Anna-Maria Salmi (University of Helsinki, Finland)
Discussant: Paul Copeland (Queen Mary, University of London, UK)
Marina Khmelnitskaya (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland): The Use of "Tools of Government" by Electoral Authoritarian Regimes
Eleanor Bindman
(University of Liverpool, UK), Meri Kulmala (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland) and Elena Bogdanova (Centre for Independent Social Research, Russia): NGOs and the Policymaking Process in Russia: The Case of Child Welfare Reform
Daria Gritsenko
(Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland): Arctic Port Development and the Rise of Strategic Planning in Russia

Research on the policy process is central to the study of public policy. Yet, the engagement of the discipline with the complexity of interactions involving public policy in non-democratic states remains marginal. In this session, we would like to discuss to what extent various frameworks, theories and models of the policy process are applicable to the study of continuity and change in the Russian policymaking. Among the questions that we seek to address are: How do the dichotomies informing the classical rationalist approaches to the study of the political, such as ‘public’ (state) vs ‘private’ (market), center vs regions/periphery, politics vs administration, play out in Russia? How can the rich vocabulary developed in the sub-disciplines of comparative politics and transition studies to describe power relations in non-democratic states be used to refine our understanding of the policy process? How do the overarching policy objectives of ‘modernization’ and ‘development’ affect the structure and agency of policymaking in Russia? The panel unites scholars of Russian politics applying mainstream approaches, including multiple streams, advocacy coalition, tools of governments, narrative policy framework, to ponder these questions.

Dr. Marina Khmelnitskaya examines the use of policy instruments in contemporary Russia building on the “tools of government” framework (Hood 1983; Hood and Margetts 2007). Relying on the case study of the housing sphere, she proposes a set of principles according to which the tools of nodality, authority, treasure and organization are combined under the influence of institutional and structural factors, the non-compliance of middle and lower levels of state authority, in particular, and extends this theorizing to a broader set of cases of electoral authoritarian regimes.

Dr. Eleanor Bindman together with Dr. Elena Bogdanova and Dr. Meri Kulmala explore a major child welfare reform currently carried out in Russia. Focusing on deinstitutionalization and a child’s right to a family, this reform moves Russia in the direction of international trends in this area and represents a break with previous state- and institution-dominated approach to ‘problem families.’ The paper explores how and why this process has come about in a traditionally top-down, hybrid regime and applies the multiple streams framework to argue that child welfare NGOs have acted in concert with officials to act as policy entrepreneurs in framing the policy problem and presenting solutions to it in a way which has influenced national priorities in this area.

Dr. Daria Gritsenko investigates how the infrastructure policy, in particular port development policy, in the Russian Arctic has been structured by the proliferation of strategic planning at all levels of government. Utilizing policy narrative framework, the analysis specifically focuses on regional business-government relations and policy entrepreneurs who promote port infrastructure development. The study of narrative scripts by policy entrepreneurs is used to reveal the role of top-down strategic planning in regional policy change.

We expect that these cases from the Russian context will help advance research on the policy process and the understanding of the dynamics of policymaking in non-Western and non-democratic countries.