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Essays on the Analysis of Trends Affecting Governance in Transition Countries

Friday, 16 September, 2011 - 14:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Faculty: Social Sciences and Solvay Business School
Munira Aminova
phd defence

The thesis explores the ‘big questions’ which are attempted by all policy researchers: whether a
policy works or it doesn’t; why and under which circumstances it works; does the policy
normally produce the intended results and which forms of institutions are better for
accomplishing public purposes (Hill and Lynn, 2001). Each chapter thoroughly analyzes one of
the above questions in one of the three domains of governance: public, private and civil society
(UNDP, 1997). In parallel to the main direction of analysis we also explore how governance
occurs in the interplay between social and governmental action. The local cultures, cultural
artifacts and values impacting day-to-day governance of public and private entities are also

The research goal is to uncover the mechanisms of governance in Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS) countries by performing systematic research in different areas, to open
the ‘black box’ and to find out why ‘tried and tested’ governance models do not always work in
countries in transition.
The research logic of this thesis follows a specific taxonomy in moving from general to very
specific questions, both in terms of scope and geographic spread.

The chapters are:
1) Why corporate governance differs in different countries.
2) Comparative analysis of e-governance strategies of CIS countries.
3) Water management in state-centered environment: Water governance analysis of Uzbekistan.
4) Informal structures and governance processes in transition economies: The Case of

The first chapter examines all countries for which data was available, the second chapter narrows
its focus to CIS countries and the third and forth chapters employ an even stricter selection
process by choosing to conduct empirical research on only one country (Uzbekistan), in order to
narrowly model problems of governance in light of data limitations. Small-scale research is also
considered a better option for the last chapters, so as to provide for more careful interpretations
of findings, rather than making generalizations that would lack empirical validity.

The thesis produces chapter specific results and findings. At the same time the results make it
possible to formulate policy suggestions to the donor community with the region of Central Asia
as a target area.

Results show that even if, under donor or international influence, governments of transition
countries may have accepted Western theories, in practice, they are still dominated by existing
formal and informal structures. While formal structures and institutions are difficult to change
since many transition countries have inherited bureaucratic and inflexible structures with little
desire or even capability to change; informal structures are even more ‘locked in place’, due to
their status as an instrumental subset of society. In addition, said structures are neither well
researched, nor understood and are generally ignored in favor of (more) formal structures.

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