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Aleksanteri Papers 2:2001

Aleksanteri Papers Ilmari Larjavaara:
The Institutional Foundations of Administrative Development In Russia


The present study analyses the foundations of administrative development in Russia. Administrative development is critical for securing the prerequisites for democracy and a market economy in Russia. The aim of this report is to provide a theoretical basis for the developmental activities by OECD countries in the countries of transition. It also examines the theoretical foundations of the current state of Russian administration.

This report proposes that the prerequisites for successful administrative reforms in Russia may at present be rather unfavourable. The change in the operational systems of administration is largely dependent on the change of the administrative environment, that is, the entire society. In a society that, to a great extent, is not yet based on civil society, the rule of law and the efficiency of rational bureaucracy, it may prove futile to artificially create administration which functions according to such principles. The modernisation of administration requires reinforcing the institutional foundation of administration. Only when the control from civil society strengthens can administration become an efficient instrument solely for implementing the political objectives of the state instead of furthering the various internal economic and political interests pursued within administration. Then the dysfunctions of administration can be expected to be genuinely reduced and the efficiency of administration to increase.

The report argues that the starting point for, and the aim of, administrative development in Russia is to create neutral bureaucracy. The framework for administrative reforms in Russia is the institutional establishment of "true" administration, that is, neutral bureaucracy, and not, for example, the promotion of existing elements of neutral bureaucracy, as is the case of administrative reforms in OECD countries. Administration in Russia will not, however, change into neutral bureaucracy by simply transferring the "models" of good governance of OECD countries to the Russian context. The bureaucratisation of administration in Russia is linked with the general consolidation of politics and the economy, which is what administrative reforms, should be able in some way to promote.

This study presents characteristics of Russian society that have a central significance in relation to administration. The institutional features in the administrative environment create administrative dysfunctions and also explain them. The present report examines systematically how the institutional characteristics of Russian society are manifest in its administration. The report explains the dysfunctions in human resources management, delegation, co-ordination, in determining and implementing the goals and tasks of administration, in the legal foundation of administration, as well as in the economic and information resources of administration.

The prevailing operational systems of administration in Russia are marked by their hierarchical, person-centred, and non-legal nature. This study suggests that these characteristics, which in OECD countries are regarded as dysfunctions of administration, are perhaps natural features of administration which, in fact, sustain its functionality in institutional conditions of Russia. It is possible that administration in Russia can only function by such operational systems, in an environment in which civil society and the rule of law are still weak. Attempts at artificial legalisation of administration, the fight against corruption and other forms of attempts at bureaucratisation of administration in set of circumstances, in which there are no prerequisites for the modernisation of administration, may even turn out to have adverse effects.
The report argues that administration can best be developed by reinforcing institutions. Societal and administrative institutions will become modernised and more efficient once civil society, for example, gains ground. A stronger civil society sets increasing claims for the content and efficiency of administration. In addition to strengthening the control of administration, it is also vital to reinforce the incentive systems within society and administration so that these would promote constructive administrative activities.

Full text: The Institutional Foundations of Administrative Development In Russia (pdf)