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Title:Of bureaucracies and motorways: administrative reform and infrastructure policy for national roads in Poland
Author(s):Lechtenberg, Devon
Director of Research:Cidell, Julie
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cidell, Julie; Ribot, Jesse C.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Leff, Carol S.; Gille, Zsuzsa
Department / Program:Geography & Geographic InfoSci
Discipline:Geography
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Transportation Policy in Poland
Administrative Legacy
Policy Capacity
Administrative Reform in Poland
Abstract:The construction and improvement of roadway infrastructure has been the dominant direction of transportation policy throughout East-Central Europe (ECE) since the democratic transition began in 1989. In Poland, the government has been developing a nationwide network of motorways and expressways in order to meet economic and social demand. The Polish government has pursued a construction program with the political and financial support of the European Union, which it joined in May 2004. Reforms in government administration have been necessary for ensuring the proper development and implementation of infrastructure policy. This dissertation examines the course of administrative reform in the Ministry of Transport, Construction and Maritime Economy (MTBiGM), the General Directorate of National Roads and Motorways (GDDKiA), and the Ministry of Regional Development (MRR) in Poland. Additionally, it discusses some consequences of the recent merger of the MTBiGM and MRR into the new Ministry of Infrastructure and Development (MIR) in November 2013. The central question guiding the dissertation research has been whether an administrative legacy from state socialism continues to affect policy implementation. The question of an administrative legacy is addressed by the following four research questions: 1) Which mechanisms reproduced the administrative legacy of state-socialism in the national roads policy area in Poland after 1989? 2) Have mechanisms of accountability successfully compelled the Polish administration to undertake reforms? 3) Has decentralization empowered self-governments (regional and local governments) in Poland to fully participate in the policy process of national roads? 4) Have the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Regional Development nurtured internal policy capacity in response to the need for coordination? The hypotheses corresponding to the research questions were the following: 1) The central element of a legacy explanation, politicization, was largely maintained by a lack of a good civil service law until 1998 and elite hostility to their control over the administration being circumscribed. 2) The mechanisms of accountability, especially political mechanisms linking the MTBiGM, GDDKiA and MRR to the political leadership in the Polish government and to the European Union have compelled the government bodies responsible for transportation policy in Poland to undertake reforms. 3) Decentralization has indeed had an impact on highway transportation policy in Poland insofar as regional governments have greater policy input and implementation responsibilities, however ultimate authority still lies with the central government. 4) The need for coordination and rationalization of policy making and implementation have proven to be a strong impetus for the Ministry Transport, Construction, and Maritime Economy and the Ministry of Regional Development to develop stronger policy capacity. This dissertation research argues and demonstrates that an administrative legacy, defined as a reactionary cadre of officials from the socialist regime, no longer has a meaningful influence on the outcomes of national roads infrastructure policy in Poland. If, however, an administrative legacy is defined as the politicization of the government administration in Poland by political leaders, then there is a discernable and persistent legacy within the units of government administration responsible for the transportation policy, albeit to varying degrees. Furthermore, there is anecdotal evidence of a lingering mentality (i.e. the lack of a sense of public duty) among some public employees as constituting a legacy of state socialism. Addressing Research Question 1, Chapter 5 demonstrates that politicization is the primary remaining administrative legacy of state socialism. Analytically speaking, politicization is both an objective of the political leadership and a mechanism by which to achieve other goals. Politicization has been maintained by successive governments determined to utilize the administration as a means to realize their transportation policies, although the ability of ruling parties to politicize the whole of the administration has been curtailed by civil service laws passed in 1998 and 2008. Politicization as a legacy was maintained by the mechanism of rational-historical institutionalism proposed by Meyer-Sahling (2009). On the other hand, a lingering mentality as an administrative legacy of state socialism was maintained by social-constructivist institutionalism, an alternative also proposed by Meyer-Sahling (2009), as it centered on the beliefs of individual employees. Chapter 6, focusing on Research Question 2, demonstrates that government administration has been compelled to undertake reforms primarily by political mechanisms of accountability, which are used by the domestic political leadership and the European Union to enforce their policies. Political accountability is almost exclusively vertical. Internal mechanisms of accountability, such as investigations and professional norms, also compel government administration to pursue reforms. Chapter 7 addresses Research Question 3 and finds that, counter to initial expectations, decentralization has not empowered regional and local governments to have a major and consistent voice in national roads policy in Poland. However, in light of the fact that some spatial planning powers were recentralized, a government policy of the centralization of planning powers related to national roads can be explained as a rational process through which central government ministries and agencies will be more effective as policymakers and implementers. Chapter 8, addressing Research Question 4, demonstrates that the MTBiGM and MRR nurtured internal policy capacity in order to better coordinate planning and implementation activities, a process that was aided by recentralization. Policy capacity also provided the legitimacy needed by civil servants of the MTBiGM and MRR to resist politicization by the political leadership. The primary contribution to the literatures on public administration and the political transition is the Revised Model of Public Management Reform based on the Model of Public Management Reform developed by Pollitt and Bouckaert (2011). The Revised Model is an adaptation better suited to analyzing the process of administrative reform in East-Central European countries which have either already joined or will join the European Union. The revised model includes an explicit role for international organizations such as the European Union, Weberian concepts of bureaucracy, and greater agency on the part of the bureaucracy. The revised model can serve as an effective analytical tool for scholars engaged in studying administrative reforms in contemporary East-Central Europe. A contribution to the transition literature on administrative reforms in ECE is that it shows that politicization is a theme common to Meyer-Sahling’s (2009) alternatives to an administrative legacy (defined as a residual cadre of officials from the previous regime with ideological loyalties to socialism). According to Meyer-Sahling (2009), alternative explanations to the (cadre) legacy still having influence on the course of reform include 1) an early end to the (cadre) legacy’s influence, 2) EU conditionality, 3) foreign models of administration, and 4) party competition over the administration. The issue of politicization is found at the core of these alternatives for the following reasons: 1) Politicization was used as a mechanism to remove the old cadre early on, 2) EU conditionality sought to minimize politicization as part of its recommended reforms, 3) foreign models of administration restraining excessive politicization were sought, and 4) party competition over control of the administration was enabled by the prospect of utilizing the politicized structures of the administration for rewarding supporters. Thus, politicization is arguably the most important remaining administrative legacy of state socialism. The study is important for transportation geography in that it closely scrutinizes the institutional processes by which policy actors in bureaucratic government are influenced, thus potentially shaping transportation policymaking and implementation. The same contribution is made to human geography as a whole, as public administration remains woefully understudied by scholars in that field. Promising opportunities exist in examining public administration from a spatial perspective, a task well suited to the theoretical skills nurtured among geographers today. A final and practical contribution of this research is that it will prove useful as a source of insight into the efforts of the Polish government to implement a national roads program for policy-makers both in the European Union, the United States, and elsewhere.
Issue Date:2014-09-16
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/50695
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Devon Michael Lechtenberg
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-09-16
Date Deposited:2014-08


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