The present work was driven from an intense interest in covering the challenges for stability, reconstruction and democratization of the Balkans during post-communism. Within the wider context of the European enlargement, our aim targets the methodological involvement of the new historical institutionalism in the analysis of public organizations’ historicity and dynamics to bring forth those elements of convergence or divergence, incrementalism or severe transformation during post-communism within the Balkans. We must shed light on a couple of issues: whether convergence or divergence prevails in terms of the evolution of public organizations within South-Eastern Europe following the fall of Communism and whether continuity or dis-continuity identify with the region.
This volume is intended at presenting the theoretical and methodological elements of the researches undertaken within a wider project aiming at identifying the path of institutional creation and institutional change within the new post-communist establishment. We became eager to discuss the systemic transformations identified in the newly established Balkan democracies as institutional dynamics in the context of assuming institutions as promoters of social order and stability. That is why we undertook the theoretical premises of path dependence which outlines the power of precedents to determine future evolutions.
In order to analyse organizational change one must identify the institutional structures conceived to create and mantain social order and actors’ expectations and behaviours. Society’s reflection of the institutions, their role and importance determines the whole reform process. How can one best describe the state-society relations during post-communism? Can we label the evolution of the relations among the local, regional, central and supranational levels during transition? What was the driving force behind those transformations? What were the costs and gains of the whole process? Was the supranational level a push-factor behind transition and did all governments in the region respond in the same way?
The methodology involved through the new historical institutionalism makes possible the interpretation of organisational evolution following a historical path, offering the environment for comparisons and seminal analyses and securing causality as an answer pointing towards the constraints imposed by already existing rules and institutions. The analytical interest favoured by the new historical institutionalism would materialise into the interpretation of organizational change through institutional transformations studied by the operationalisation of historical events, cultural factors, political opportunities as explaining variables for change. Thus, by studying the democratization processes dynamics in the Balkans through the new historical institutionalism approach, one may interpret the heterogeneous and asymmetric evolutions of public organizations in a particular geographical area and historical context based on the constraints that past events (such as regime changes, social and political conflicts, social and political crises etc.) and the institutional path dependence (administrative structures, dispersing power among central and local governments, institutions creation and institutional change) can cause to the process of policy-making and enforcement of present public policies. This approach offers explanations on the government policy choice within a particular environment (oriented in time and space).
Thus, the research is ensured a cohesive and central aim focusing on the primary task of identifying institutional dynamics during historical transformations within a larger cross-national picture. This implies a longitudinal analysis of historical processes of administrative organisation and democratic functioning allowing for the identification and analysis of the implications for the public policy-making within Balkan space.
I wish to thank my family who understood my goals, my tutors in the project who offered valuable expertise, my colleagues who offered guidance, moral support and proof reading during the research and the project management team who made this quest possible. Naturally, all the views expressed in this paper belong to the author and not to the institutions that financed the research
Cătălina Maria Georgescu