The state and markets in Russia--- Understanding the development of bureaucratic implementation capacities through the study of regulatory reform, 2001-2008
For much of the 1990s, the Russian state struggled with the enforcement of basic functions such as the provision of public goods, social regulation and collection of taxes. Enfeebled by the transition from communist rule, the post-soviet institutions lacked the organizational resources to ensure that policies enacted at the top are faithfully translated at the lower level of organizational hierarchy. In 2000, the country's new leadership moved aggressively to consolidate power within the executive branch and try to make the state more functional. It adopted a decidedly centralizing approach to state building by restricting discretion of individual bureaucrats and removing non-state actors from the process of policy making. This thesis looks at the success of this state-building drive by examining the trajectory of implementation of regulatory reform. Enacted in 2001, the regulatory reform package targeted the entry, licensing and inspections of firms. The basic thrust of the changes was to limit opportunities for rent-seeking behavior by local bureaucrats and to rationalize the interactions between government officials and firms. Regulatory agencies were instructed to inspect businesses less often and to provide licenses and registration within shorter specified time limits. The reforms represented a significant break with past practices that emphasized complete state control over the economy. To get at the issue of incentives to implement reforms, I designed and implemented a series of nation-wide surveys encompassing both implementing officials and firms. The research demonstrated that enforcement varied within temporal, regional and agency dimensions. While most agencies struggled to bring their practices in line with the new federal guidelines, some institutions implemented the changes better than others. Focusing specifically on the variation between established institutions such as the Fire Inspection and Sanitation and Trade Agency, I found that the implementation and performance of agencies depended on the level of organizational autonomy and the political strategies employed by the top management of these agencies. This project demonstrated that rapid organizational restructuring coupled with increased oversight and sanctions of lower level inspectors may not produce the results targeted by policy-makers in older established agencies. By contrast however, for newer institutions that lack established routines rapid changes to organizational structure and formal incentives may in fact work to the reformers' advantage and produce more immediate tangible results. The thesis makes a contribution to the study of post-communist politics and the literature on comparative state building.