The Effectiveness of Administrative Reform in New Democracies


Milena I. Neshkova is assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration at Florida International University. Her research interests focus on bureaucracy and democracy in domestic and international settings. Her current research explores the processes of administrative rebuilding and decentralization in countries making the transition to democracy.

Tatiana Kostadinova is associate professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University. Her research interests include political institutions, Eastern European democratic transition, public support for international institutions, and comparative environmental policies. She is the author of Bulgaria, 1879-1946: The Challenge of Choice (Columbia University Press, 1995). Her work has been published in the American Journal of Political Science, Electoral Studies, Journal of Peace Research, and the European Journal of Political Research.


Practitioners and scholars of postcommunist politics disagree on the accomplishments of administrative reforms in new Eastern European democracies. The transformation of the public sector after 1989 has aimed to consolidate the democratic process and enhance economic development. Skeptics, however, argue that administrative reforms face serious challenges in the context of economic liberalization, insufficient capacity for modernization, and cultural legacies of the past. The authors judge reform effectiveness by testing the impact of civil service reform on government transparency and foreign direct investment. The results of the empirical analysis confirm that once reform is adopted, administrations become more effective at reducing corruption and attracting investment. Despite the delays and difficulties of implementation, the adoption of reform is important in and of itself, and countries can expect positive results sooner than skeptics predict.