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International Advice and Institutional (Mis)configuration

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The Case of Serbia1

image of Southeastern Europe

International aid and assistance to the Western Balkans, which began more than two decades ago after the disintegration of sfr Yugoslavia, has been severely criticised on various grounds by academics, politicians, and domestic elites. One of the main points of criticism has been heavy foreign interference into domestic affairs, which deprives local policy-makers of ‘policy ownership.’ This paper uses four paradigmatic examples of reform in Serbia – in the areas of labor market, income taxation, pensions system, and privatization – to show that, despite the widely accepted view of the dominant role of international actors in the creation of the reform agenda, there was significant room for local policy-makers in Serbia to exercise full ownership over the ongoing reforms. What policy-makers really needed was expertise, a clear vision of the desired reforms, the determination to defend their agenda, and technical skills to implement it. The significantly different outcomes of the four areas of reform analyzed in this paper, despite involving virtually the same actors of international intervention, seem to illustrate well our hypothesis that the failure of some important sectoral reforms in Serbia during the post-2000 period was the result of the policy-makers’ own weaknesses, rather than the result of external conditionality.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Economics, University of Belgrade, arandarenko@ekof.bg.ac.rs; 2: Department of Economics, Finance and Statistics, , University of Perugia, milica.uvalic@unipg.it

10.1163/18763332-03802003
/content/journals/10.1163/18763332-03802003
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1. Arandarenko M. 2004. “ "International advice and labour market institutions in South-East Europe",” Global Social Policy Vol 4( 1): 2753. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1468018104040984
2. ——. 2006. “ "International intervention and ownership of socio-economic reforms in Serbia after 2000 – Three paradigmatic cases",” in Dialogues. From International Intervention to Nationa/Local Ownership? ( Sarajevo: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Bosnia-Herzegovina): 89102.
3. Arandarenko M. ,and Golicin P. ,. 2007. “ "Serbia",” in Deacon B. ,and Stubbs P. (eds.), Social Policy and International Interventions in South East Europe ( Edward Elgar).
4. Bartlett W. , 2010. “ "Creating functioning market economies: Aid effectiveness, policy transfer, and advocacy coalitions in the Western Balkans",” in Cerovic B. ,and Uvalic M. (eds.), Western Balkans Economic and Political Challenges ( Belgrade: Cugura Press): 87107.
5. Government of Serbia. 2001. Letter of Intent to the imf ( Belgrade).
6. Easterly W. 2014. The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor (Basic Books).
7. Kekic L. 2001. “ "Aid to the Balkans: Addicts and pushers”", Journal of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies Vol 1( 1): 2040. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14683850108454619
8. Martens B. ,, Mummert U. ,, Murrell P. ,and Seabright P. ( 2002, 2008). The Institutional Economics of Foreign Aid ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
9. Nuti D. M. , 2013. “ "Did we go about transition in the right way?",” in Hare P. ,and Turley G. (eds), Handbook of the Economics and Political Economy of Transition ( London and New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis): 4658.
10. Uvalic M. , 2003. “ "Economics: From international assistance towards self-sustainable growth",” in van Meurs W. (ed.), Prospects and Risks Beyond euEnlargement: Southeastern Europe: Weak States and Strong International Support . Report prepared for the Bertelsmann Foundation ( Munich: Centre for Applied Policy Research, Opladen, Leske & Budrich): 99115.
11. ——. 2004. "“Privatization in Serbia: The difficult conversion of self-management into property rights,”"in Pérotin V. ,and Robinson A. (eds.), Advances in the Economic Analysis of Participatory and Labor-Managed Firms . Volume Vol 8. Chapter 9: 211237.
12. ——. 2010. Serbia’s Transition – Towards a Better Future ( Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan). Serbian translation (2012): Tranzicija u Srbiji. Ka boljoj buducnosti, Belgrade: Zavod za udzbenike.
13. ——. 2013. “ "Why has Serbia not been a frontrunner?",” in Hare P. ,and Turley G. (eds.), Handbook of the Economics and Political Economy of Transition ( London and New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis): 365375.
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/content/journals/10.1163/18763332-03802003
2014-11-21
2018-04-25

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