Transition and Foreign Aid Policies in the Visegrád Countries: A Path Dependant Approach


The paper argues that the current emerging international development policies of the Visegrád (V4) countries are heavily influenced by the certain aspects of the Communist past and the transition process. Due to these influences, the V4 countries have difficulties in adapting the foreign aid practices of Western donors and this leads to the emergence of a unique Central and Eastern European development cooperation model. As an analytical background, the paper builds on the path dependency theory of transition. A certain degree of path dependence is clearly visible in V4 foreign aid policies, and the paper analyses some aspects of this phenomenon: how these new emerging foreign aid donors select their partner countries, how much they spend on aid, how they formulate their aid delivery policies and institutions and what role the non-state actors play. The main conclusions of the paper are that the legacies of the Communist past have a clear influence and the V4 countries still have a long way to go in adapting their aid policies to international requirements.

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  1. 1.

    See Degnbol-Martinussen and Engberg-Pedersen (2005) for a detailed analysis.

  2. 2.

    It must of course be noted that expenditure on aid itself does not mean that aid funds will be used effectively. Although many politicians, scholars and civil activists call for a large increase in aid levels, there is a growing body of literature that convincingly shows that a rapid increase in aid will actually do more harm than good. See for example Rajan and Subramanian (2005). Fragile states can have especially large problems in absorbing increased aid flows (Szent-Iványi 2007).

  3. 3.

    Although it must be noted that most Western European countries are not making much of an effort to meet their commitments either (Concord 2007, 2008).

  4. 4.

    Examples include local Red Cross-Committees, women’s and youth associations, trade unions, etc.

  5. 5.

    A 2005 Eurobarometer survey showed that in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary only about a third of the population thought it was ‘very important’ for their governments to help developing countries, compared to the 53% EU-25 average. A significant portion of the populations of the V4 countries have no knowledge about the fact that their country is a foreign aid donor, ranging from 19% in Hungary to 47% in Poland. In Hungary only 11% of the population thought that the government devotes too little resources to development, compared to the EU-25 average of 33%. For more details see Eurobarometer 2005.

  6. 6.

    Altogether 175 thousand euros have been spent on this subject in Slovakia in 2005 (SlovakAid 2006).


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Correspondence to Balázs Szent-Iványi.

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Szent-Iványi, B., Tétényi, A. Transition and Foreign Aid Policies in the Visegrád Countries: A Path Dependant Approach. Transit Stud Rev 15, 573–587 (2008).

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  • Emerging aid donors
  • Visegrád countries
  • Foreign aid
  • Path dependency

JEL Classification

  • F35
  • P33