The Politics of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms in Development—Explaining Within‐Country Variation of Reform Outcomes in Georgia after the Rose Revolution

Date01 February 2015
Published date01 February 2015
Glasgow, UK
This article examines the role of politics as a determinant of civil service and administrative (CSA) reform outcomes in Georgia.
The majority of existing studies on CSA reforms face several methodological challenges, which make it diff‌icult to understand
the inf‌luence of politics in more detail. Based on literature review f‌indings, the article proposes a model for within-country com-
parisons that allows one to control for a number of variables such as context and policy design.
Comparing CSA reform outcomes in the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs in Georgia
after the 2003 Rose Revolution through a matched case study, the article shows that certain countrywide legal adjustments, anti-
corruption measures and context variables are necessary but insuff‌icient conditions for successful reform. While in general
Georgia has achieved considerable success in its CSA reform efforts, the Presidents leverage over reform implementation, lead-
ership at the ministry level and the politics of foreign aid have led to signif‌icant variation in reform outcomes across the analysed
institutions. In addition to this, institutional constraints ref‌lecting inherent differences between policy sectors explain another
part of the variation in outcomes in Georgia. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
key wordscivil service reform; administrative reform; administrative quality; Georgia; within-country comparison; politics
of governance reforms
In the past decades, a growing consensus has emerged that an effective civil service is a crucial pre-requisite for
sustainable development (Scott, 2011). However, the results of countrywide civil service and administrative
(CSA) reforms in development have been mostly disappointing (World Bank, 2008; Brösamle, 2012; Andrews,
2013; Repucci, 2014). Recognising this problem, donors and scholars have begun to question their previous ap-
proaches and have acknowledged the importance of politics in this process (World Bank, 2012a; DfID, 2013). De-
spite this recognition, there have been few attempts to develop methodologies that systematically analyse the
politics of CSA reform in developing countries. In general, the evidence-base for understanding what works
and whyin this f‌ield remains poor(Brösamle, 2012; World Bank, 2012a).
Against this background, the article at hand examines countrywide CSA reform outcomes as a dependent var-
iable and argues that within-country comparisons offer a solution to overcome previous methodological shortcom-
ings. Analysing CSA reform implementation in two institutions in Georgia after the Rose Revolution in 2003, I
demonstrate that three political factors are signif‌icant drivers of within-country variance in reform outcomes,
namely the central authoritys leverage over reform implementation, leadership at the ministry level and the politics
of foreign aid.
Through a literature review of studies on CSA reforms, this article f‌irst shows that the current lack of under-
standing in the f‌ield stems from several methodological challenges. Based on the review f‌indings, I argue that
*Correspondence to: D. Rinnert, 19 Highburgh Road, G12 9YF Glasgow. E-mail:
Revision of manuscript submitted to Public Administration and Developmentfor double blind reviewing.
public administration and development
Public Admin. Dev. 35,1933 (2015)
Published online in Wiley Online Library
( DOI: 10.1002/pad.1709
Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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