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Theoretical and Applied Economics
No. 8 / 2012 (573)

Re(De)-Forming public administration: an expert outlook on reform planning in Romania

Diana-Camelia IANCU
National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest

Abstract. It has been argued that the West with its well-established democracies was largely responsible for the filling of the institutional vacuum the East experienced after the fall of totalitarian regimes in the eve of the 90s. Scholars of international relations and public policies loudly debated on the existent causality between the European enlargement and the administrative reforms Central and Eastern European countries experienced in the last two decades. Be it in the form of soft or hard law, financial aid or penalties, Western norms were supposed to have been transferred to acceding countries in a rather alert tempo, and with a high(er) rate of compliance success. This research builds on these arguments without yet embracing them completely and tackles the issue of Western values successful transfer to public administration reform planning in Romania. The main question it attempts to answer is to what extent substantial compliance to the European expectations for building a consolidated public administration was achieved. In doing so, it compares formal national discourses of successful public administration reform with personal experiences of Romanian public managers, four years after Romania’s accession to the European Union. Between 2005 and 2008, the Romanian Government acknowledged the need for developing a highly professional, apolitical category of civil servants later to be called “public managers”. These managers, young people that were offered Governmental grants to train themselves in Western universities, were supposed to guide national reforms from the inside of the system. Their informal role was to use their Western academic and training experiences and place them against the national background so as to plan and execute a “good” public administration reform. Was this achieved? What were the intervening factors? The interviews performed on public managers from central government organizations are placed against the framework of postenlargement Europeanization studies and sustain the original hypothesis of the paper: there is a gap between reform discourse and reform practice, and transfer of Western values is hardly visible when the agents of this transfer are solely public managers.

Keywords: post-enlargement europeanization; public manager; administration reform.

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