Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Political Science

Government Engagement in Co-Operative Service Delivery in Romania: Knowledge and Acknowledgement

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Political Science

Government Engagement in Co-Operative Service Delivery in Romania: Knowledge and Acknowledgement

Article excerpt

Introduction

There is a global trend towards increased presence of third sector organisations in the provision of health, social, educational and cultural services (3) as instruments of public sector action, as a result of policies associated with new public management (Anheier 2009). The creation of a partnership between the government and key stakeholders in public service provision is thought to be the key in making the government both more effective and more legitimate (Pollitt & Bouckaert 2011, p.22). This trend is associated with the addition of market and network governance elements to the traditional hierarchical governance of the public sector (Meuleman 2011; Pollitt & Bouckaert 2011, pp.20-1) and increasingly blurred demarcation lines between the state and the third sector (Brandsen & Pestoff 2006).

While in Western states new public management and market principles precede the discourse on networks and governance in public sector reforms, in Central and Eastern European countries the engagement of the states with third sector service delivery is defined by reforms introducing concomitantly both market and network governance principles (Kuti 2011). This raises questions as to what characterizes the governance of state--third sector service delivery organisations relationships in Central and Eastern European contexts, a topic which is relatively absent in the literature. One reason for the relative absence of this topic is the significant variation of government engagement with third sector service delivery from country to country, which was documented by studies made in the Western countries and was linked to subjective factors (Phillips & Rathgeb Smith 2011) and individual level attitudes (Snavely and Desai 2001). Thus, attention was unavoidably averted towards national case studies (such as those reflected in Phillips & Rathgeb Smith 2011).

In Romania's case the relationship between the state and third sector service delivery organisations has been usually approached in documents stemming from the third sector itself, which generally place much emphasis on the adversarial rather than the collaborative aspects of this relationship (Pralong 2009, Lambru & Vamesu 2010, CCN-PROIS 2013). This relationship has not been approached as a governance practice, taking into account the concomitant introduction of market and network governance principles and mechanisms in the Romanian public sector. Therefore, we know very little about the state's take on the partnership and interdependence unavoidably embedded in collaborative service delivery and the specific factors shaping state engagement in this new policy space.

Based on a brief review of the relevant literature, this paper builds an interpretive framework which can be used to assess collaborative service delivery in Romania as a governance practice. This framework is then used to analyse policy discourse on the Romanian third sector in public service provision and infer the characteristics of state engagement in this new policy space. The next three sections of the paper describe the context, review the relevant literature and detail the analytical framework used. Then, the paper briefly presents the method and data used. In the second part of the paper the results of the analysis are detailed and discussed. The final section discusses the preparedness of Romanian governmental structures for co-governance in public service delivery, as well as the broader relevance of the findings for the existing literature on collaborative service delivery in Central and Eastern Europe.

Context: the service delivery third sector in Romania

The development of the Romanian third sector after 1989 is shaped by international donors and European Union accession requirements (Lambru & Vamesu 2010; Pralong 2009) and the concomitant introduction of market and network governance mechanisms. However, the development of the third sector is not a policy priority. …

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