Governance and the State: Theory and Russian Specifics

  • Dmitry ZaytsevEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-31816-5_2952-1

Keywords

International Comparator Good Governance State Capacity BRICS Country Participatory Governance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Synonyms

Definitions

State is a type of polity that is characterized by two main dimensions: “statehood” and “stateness.” Statehood is the recognition of the state by other states as independent nation, equal to others to participate on international arena; receiving and having the “statehood” for country mean that it is a part of the “concert of nations,” such as the member of the United Nations organization. Stateness is a state capacity to sustain its territory, nation, and citizens’ welfare; it is not enough being recognized by other states as such, but also important to support this status in time.

Introduction: The Problem of the Loss of Centrality by the State

Governance and the state are two concepts that we use in public policy and public administration to highlight both the process of policy-making and government capacity to solve policy problems effectively.

These two concepts try to capture and explain the oldest phenomena of government and decision-making in society, which have existed since Ancient times. That is why “governance” and “the state” since Ancient Greek philosophers have a long history of conceptualization; therefore, diverse definitions of governance and state coexist with each other. Old understandings of governance and the state meet and mix with the new ones (e.g., interactive governance, new management system, global governance, multilateral governance).

Furthermore, the tendency of last decades in public policy is the loss of centrality by the state. If, for centuries, state was the central actor of policy-making, in the last decades scholars identify the tendency of the state to move from this central role and position. It was discovered by theorists both of “the state” (Linz and Stepan 1996) and of “governance” (Lenoble and Maesschalck 2010; Stivers 2008). The tendency to lose centrality by the state is indicated by the raise of the importance of identity issues in the contemporary world, the blurring of nation-state identity, and the increasing importance of local and global identifications of citizens, as well as other identities (gender, identification with particular subculture, religion, etc.) which have become more equal to national identity that was dominant for last two to three centuries (Semenenko 2012). For governance a similar shift is observed: from the state which has to govern effectively to participation and knowledge, which have become the key indicators of “participatory governance” (Kohler-Koch and Quittkat 2013; Malena 2009) and “reflexive governance” (Lenoble and Maesschalck 2010).

There are continued attempts to measure empirically the quality of governance and state capacity by scholars and international comparators (The World Bank “Government Effectiveness Index,” “Property Rights and Rule-based Governance,” “Index of Objective Indicators of Good Governance,” and “Governance Indicators”; the Freedom House “Functioning of Government Index,” the Bertelsmann Stiftung “Stateness Index” and “Management Index,” the World Peace Foundation “Index of African Governance”). These indices are used not only by scholars in their research but also by practitioners (public, stakeholders, and policy-makers), who are trying to solve policy problems. These indices help them to orient in a complicated world of policy-making, to trace policy process, and policy transfer and learning from the “best examples” of decision-making in other countries and policy sectors. They need these rankings to choose more effective policy options and tools to manage social problems.

Indices can be biased not only from theoretical and methodological points of view but also because of interests of sponsors and values of international comparators, who are involved in the creation of these rankings. That is why they can also be used as tools for manipulation or the legitimation of government decisions.

The existence of diverse understandings of what governance and the state is, as well as empirical measures of their quality and capacity, confuses both scholars and practitioners as mutual crossing and mixing of the meanings of the concepts, methodological and political biases of the scholars and international comparators can lead to absurd conclusions in research and inefficient policies.

The identification of clear boundaries between the concepts, traditions to define them, and their diverse meanings, as well as contemporary dynamics in development of quality of governance and state capacity, will help both scholars and practitioners to understand policy variation and change and increase the effectiveness of policy-making in the very complicated contemporary world.

Theories of the Governance and the State: From a “State-Centric” to “Participatory” Understanding

Territory or polity is conceded as the state, when it is recognized as such by other states as independent nation, equal to others to participate on international arena. “Statehood” is a concept that is used to define this characteristic of the state. Receiving and having the “statehood” for country mean that it is a part of the “concert of nations,” such as the member of the United Nations organization.

Theories of state do not stop on reflections about “statehood” as an essential characteristic of state, but also reflect about the state capacity to sustain its territory, nation, and citizens’ welfare. This aspect of the state which adds other dimensions – that it is not enough being recognized by other states as such, but also important to support this status in time – is known in political theory as “stateness.” If “statehood” can be easily measured, as the UN has the formal procedure of recognition of new members of the organization, “stateness” is not so easy to assess as it is combined by several meanings.

“Stateness” as a “conceptual variable” was first used by J. Nettl (1968). Conceptualizing stateness, Nettl focused on state activity, structures, and functions and also defines historical, intellectual, and cultural dimensions of this phenomenon. Stateness is a more contestable concept than statehood as it had more dimensions; therefore, it is defined differently depending on the aspect of the state capacity that an author tries to explain. We can identify four theoretical traditions or approaches to define stateness.

The first tradition to define stateness pays attention to such aspects as being independent and autonomous from other actors: primacy, autonomy, and sovereignty of the state. These unique characteristics of stateness obtained during the historical process of the formation and development of the nation-state in modern times happened mostly in Western Europe since sixteenth century (Tilly 1975). The nation-state had replaced the “old” forms of polity (polis, empire). That is why we can call this approach the “historical tradition.” It refers to the well-known definition of state expounded by Max Weber “a monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force” (Weber 1921). Tilly, analyzing the formation of nation-states in Western Europe, by stateness meant “the degree to which the instruments of government are differentiated from other organizations, centralized, autonomous, and formally coordinated with each other” (Tilly 1975, 32).

The second tradition is the “functional approach” which is a logical continuation of the historical approach to define stateness. It highlights such aspects of stateness as the capacity to perform governmental functions, establish effective structures, and concentrate recourses (or capital) for state-agency activities. This tradition refers to Bourdieu’s classic analysis of state-building as a process of the concentration of capital: physical force, economic, informational, juridical, and symbolic (Bourdieu 1994). Bartolini (2005) continues this “functional tradition.” He defines four dimensions of stateness: “(a) creation of the organization for the mobilization of resources: bureaucracy and tax burden; (b) external consolidation of the territory: army; (c) maintenance of internal order: police and judiciary; and (d) state activism in regulatory activities and in economic and social interventionism” (Bartolini 2005, 71). If the “historical tradition” pays more attention to the process of formation and development of modern states as independent, sovereign, and as a supreme center, whose decisions are binding on other actors and society at large, the authors of the “functional approach” took this argument as the starting point and made the step forward by drawing a more dynamic picture where the state has certain functions that it has to establish regularly to maintain the central status.

An alternative understanding to these traditional concepts of stateness was proposed by Linz and Stepan (1996), who argue that stateness is an undertheorized concept: “our point about undertheorization concerns in particular the triadic inter-relationship between the modern state, modern nationalism, and modern democracy” (Linz and Stepan 1996, 16). They continue that “a modern democratic state is based on the participation of the demos (the population), and nationalism provides one possible definition of the demos, which may or may not coincide with the demos of the state” (Linz and Stepan 1996, 16). An analysis of state capacity is the study of the “stateness problem”: when there is a difference between actual territorial boundaries of the state and territorial boundaries of the political community of citizens, who identify themselves with the state. The “stateness problem” is as big as, as much citizens of the population of the state territory are not recognized by the state as citizens or as many of the citizens do not identify themselves with the state. Linz and Stepan define stateness through “identification with the state” when “large groups of individuals in the territory” do not want “to join a different state or create an independent state” (Linz and Stepan 1996, 7). This definition should be specified by adding such indicators of high state capacity as a low level of citizen identification with alternative state identities (global and local), the lack of public wish to emigrate (including inner migration), and other identifications with the state (national pride, knowledge, use of national symbols, etc.). This tradition to identify stateness can be called the “socio-cultural approach” as it raises the identity issues – not only the question of citizens’ identification with the state – but also the questions of national and civil identity of the people.

The fourth tradition for state capacity analysis is the “synthetic approach” that tries to combine all three above approaches or traditions and give a generic definition. One of the attempts to synthesize these traditions was made by Russian political scientist Il’in (2008). He compared different dimensions of stateness with Aristotle’s “four causes of change”: driver or moving cause (kinoyn), substance or material cause (hyle), prototype or formal cause (eidos), and aim or final cause (telos). Accordingly, there are four aspects of the state: statehood as being a part of community of recognized independent states; stateness as the capital and resources which allow the state to function; stateness according to Linz and Stepan as citizens’ identification with the state; finally, the state’s aspiration for autonomy, self-sufficiency, independency, and sovereignty. In other words, state capacity is high, when, first, it is recognized by the other states as an actor in the international arena; secondly, the state has successfully concentrated enough recourses to govern; third, as the result of the first and second, the state is recognized by its citizens as the motherland; and based on all these three dimensions state became a central actor in the national political system.

The concept of governance is much more complex and complicated than the notion of stateness. More complexity is added because of the close tie between the phenomenon of state as “in political and administrative theory, governance used to imply statecraft” (Stivers 2008, 15). The universality of the phenomenon of governance leads to the existence and multiplication of many definitions of governance. Rod Rhodes (1996) identifies six, Kees van Kersbergen and Franz van Warden (van Kersbergen and van Warden 2004) – nine different meanings of governance. Endless lists of governance concepts lead Claus Offe to conclude that governance is “an expression without any precise content” (Torfing et al. 2012, 12–13). The notion of governance is used in many different contexts and often in conjunction with a particular adjective: global governance, corporate governance, good governance, etc. But this makes things even more complicated (Torfing et al. 2012, 12–13). To manage this complexity the governance definitions can be summarized in four general approaches.

The first approach in defining governance can be called “state-limited” as it first of all argues for a shift in governing from rowing to steering, from command and control regulation to “soft” regulatory regimes, paying attention to government accountability, transparency, client orientation, the reduction of corruption, and other features of “good governance.” This approach correlates with using the concept of governance in Developmental Studies and Legal Theory, to grasp the processes of the limitation of state functions and authority and a new public management movement.

In Developmental Studies governance is defined with reference to the “less developed countries,” which need to develop “good governance.” It means that the government has to reduce corruption and establish other elements of more accountable and transparent government, like free and fair elections, increased administrative and fiscal capacity, following the rule of law principle in public administration, and opposed to nepotistic and clientelistic structures, a personalistic form of governing and informal patterns, and institutions (Torfing et al. 2012, 36–38). This approach to conceptualizing governance is very close to the historical and functional approaches to define stateness.

Legal theory does not propose an alternative conceptualization of governance but focuses on the interaction between governance and other related notions of “rule of law” (that “good governance” is viewed as an element of effective governance), “reflexive law,” and “soft law.” The pathos of this discourse is a switch from command and control regulation to “the use of instruments such as benchmarks and voluntary agreements” (Torfing et al. 2012, 45–47). Government has to base its decisions on rules and regulations developed in interaction with other stakeholders and nongovernmental actors. Thus, “rule-based governance” (World Bank 2016a) and “regulatory governance” (Levi-Faur 2011; Minogue and Cariño 2006) are the notions with adjectives, which try to specify this aspect when the government needs to coordinate the interests of diverse policy actors to establish rules for policy-making.

In Public Administration there is the widespread understanding and practice of delegation of public services to governmental agencies which are more or less autonomous from higher state-officials and to nongovernmental agencies (market organizations or NGOs). Through contracts, public-private partnerships, or networking these agencies are becoming involved in policy-making. The new public management movement is an example of the “variety of “governance” approaches to public administration” (Torfing et al. 2012, 40–42).

The second approach defines governance as a process of bargaining with different institutional levels of decision-making (local, regional, national, supranational, and global). This approach was developed in Urban Politics Studies and is connected with the process of decentralization and can be called multilevel governance. In the literature, this precise concept is used with an adjective – decentralizing governance (Cheema and Rondinelli 2007). The multilevel character of governance first means that cities have to establish dialogue with higher regional and state authorities to solve specific municipal issues, then was used to explain relations between diverse levels of government in such supra-national institutions like EU. This understanding of governance means not only “vertical” interactions between governmental institutions of diverse levels (local, regional, national, supra-national), but also “horizontal” relations of government with other nongovernmental actors (businesses, corporations, NGOs, civil associations, etc.) to increase the efficiency of policy-making (Torfing et al. 2012).

The next approach has close ties with the multilevel governance approach as it is rethinking governance in the context of decentralization and democratization processes and figure out such dimension of governance as multilateralism. Multilateral governance is a process of interaction between governmental and nongovernmental actors “in order to formulate, promote, and achieve common objectives by means of mobilizing, exchanging, and deploying a range of ideas, rules, and resources” (Torfing et al. 2012, 15). The concept of governance within this tradition is used in International Relations studies (IR) and Economics. Interactive Governance and Democratic Governance are the concepts “with adjectives” which establish a more precise understanding of this aspect of the concept of governance.

Study of governance in IR developed differently than in Developmental studies, Legal theory, or Urban studies because of the specificity of international relations, when there is no hierarchy between states, and there is no “global government” that rules despite conspiracy theorists. That is why governance in IR was developed as “governance without government” (Torfing et al. 2012, 35–36), where at least formally equal states have to negotiate and agree about the ways to solve global problems (such as global security, poverty, climate change). Main mechanisms in global policy-making are soft power instruments, as the use of force and coercion is restricted or directly prohibited by international law. Globalization strengthens the role of global nonstate actors (e.g., global NGOs, global corporations, global media) that have become an integral part of the modern policy-making processes on an international level. The idea of the interaction among all these actors appeared and dominated the conceptualization of governance, which was documented by such concepts as global governance. The last conception is very close to “interactive governance” as a process of the interaction of governmental and nongovernmental actors to reach public goals and “multilateral governance” (or multilateralism) that has become a key feature for this approach to define governance (Torfing et al. 2012, 35–36).

In Economics an important discovery was made by Elinor Ostrom (1990, Ostrom et al. 1992) that institutions (rules and procedures) for governing the limited resources or commons (such as oil, joint grazing areas, and water for irrigation that are limited and easily exhausted) “are argued to emerge from voluntary cooperation without the use of formal governmental interventions from the public sector” (Torfing et al. 2012, 40–42). This discovery is very close to the idea of “governance without government” in IR.

Finally, a new approach to governance conceptualizes it as a more impartial, more reflexive, and more responsive process based on effective participation of government, private, collective and public actors, and learning operations that allow citizens to act collectively, redefine public interest, and reach public good more effectively. This approach is summarized using the concept of governance in contemporary political philosophy, which can be seen in producing new concepts “with adjectives” – “reflexive governance” (Lenoble and Maesschalck 2010), “governance of the common ground” (Stivers 2008), or “governance from the ground up” (Stivers 2008).

The conclusion from this brief analysis of theories of governance and the state is that the position of the state and government with appearance of new theories over time being rethought from state-centric understandings, where the state has a monopoly in policy-making (the historical approach to stateness) towards more state-limited conceptions, where the state is limited by the effective implementation of their functions or by some principles of “good governance” or by “vertical” and “horizontal” governmental or public control (functional and synthetic approaches to stateness and state-limited and multilevel governance), and finally to an understanding that state is important but only one of many other significant actors, and only their interaction and participation can effectively solve collective problems (sociocultural approach to stateness and multilateral and participatory governance traditions).

But Why Has This Shift of Meanings of the Concepts of State and Governance Happened?

This happened due to several processes over the last three decades: globalization and the New Public Management (NPM) movement of the 1990s, which can be put in the broader processes of the Neoliberal movement in economics and politics starting from 1980s (Harvey 2005) and also because of decentralization and increasing participation in policy-making.

The advocates of new public management argued that “governments should ‘steer rather than row’ and oversee service provision rather than deliver it directly; further, governments should encourage local groups to solve their own problems by deregulating and privatizing those activities that could be carried out by the private sector or by civil society organizations more efficiently or effectively than by public agencies” (Cheema and Rondinelli 2007, 4).

Decentralization in the 1970s and 1980s was understudied as the deconcentration, devolution and delegation of authority, responsibility, recourses, and functions within government (e.g., from national to supranational (regional) and local authorities); in the mid-1980s the power of policy-making was actively shared with the private sector; during the 1990s decentralization became very close to democratization as it “was seen as a way of opening governance to wider public participation through organizations of civil society” (Cheema and Rondinelli 2007, 2–3).

Moreover, in the literature we can find the argument that the democratization processes within governance developed through the shifting from empowerment of nongovernmental actors by the state to the construction of equal partnerships between government and civil society actors to improve public policy (Stivers 2008, 115).

That is why the evolution of governance as a concept connected with a rethinking of the term and the development of participation. Previous conceptions of governance (especially within NPM framework) proceed from the “transformation of citizen to customer,” new concepts of governance deny this “economic thinking” and return us to “citizen thinking” on governance, which puts citizens into the core of policy-making. Participation of nongovernmental actors in governance should be not on the basis of public contract but through the creation of “common ground” between government and nongovernmental actors (Stivers 2008, 106). To do so another quality of participation in policy-making in needed. Not simple involvement (inclusion) and participation in governance lead to the “unconscious repetition” of old patterns and practices and does not allow real private, collective, and public interests to be identified, and finally prevent the finding of optimal solutions to public problems in public interest. What is needed is “reflective participation” based on learning operations that “puts forward an epistemological shift from one type of attention, a rational attention focused on actors’ ‘ability-to-do’, to another type of attention, focused on actors’ ‘collective identity making’” (Lenoble and Maesschalck 2010, 15). In other words participation has to start, first, with “public building” (Stivers 2008, 115), which is the process of building a common identity of the participants of the policy process, when they agree about common values, goals, and interests. An integral part of this common identity is agreement about common democratic ideals and practices. Common identity became the ground for any further collective actions. Public-building and collective actions are repeated activities as through this repetition public learning and knowledge accumulation by participants about policy-making takes place. Participation through reflection on participants’ identity, mission, and results of collective actions brings a new level of understanding of governance.

The Practice of Measurement of the Governance and the State Capacity: “State-Centric” Biases of International Comparators

International comparators that produce indices of stateness and governance are using only some of the theoretical approaches and traditions which were described above (see Tables 1 and 2).
Table 1

Stateness indices and corresponding approaches to stateness conceptualization

 

Approaches

Associated meanings or dimensions

Historical

Functional

Sociocultural

Generic or synthetic

Being independent and autonomous from other actors; primacy, autonomy, and sovereignty of the state

Yes

  

Yes

Capacity to perform governmental functions, establish effective structures, and concentrate recourses (or capitals) for state-agency activities

 

Yes

 

Yes

Citizens’ identification with the state, problems with national and civil identity within state

  

Yes

Yes

EXAMPLES OF AUTHORS

M. Weber. Ch. Tilly

P. Bourdieu S. Bartolini

J. Linz, A. Stepan

M.Il’in

EXAMPLES OF INDEXES

The Stateness Index (MGIMO)

Stateness Combined Index (S. Bartolini), State Fragility Index, State Failure Index (Polity IV Project), Government Effectiveness Index (World Bank), Functioning of Government Index (Freedom House)

Stateness Index (Bertelsmann Stiftung)

Table 2

Governance indices and corresponding approaches to governance conceptualization

 

Approaches

Associated meanings or dimensions

State-limited governance

Multilevel governance

Multilateral governance

Participatory governance

Steering society and economy using soft regulation on the basis of accountability, transparency, client orientation, reduction of corruption, and rule of law

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Bargaining with different institutional levels of decision-making (national, supranational, regional, local, and global)

 

Yes

Yes

 

Interaction between governmental and nongovernmental actors

  

Yes

Yes

Reflexive participation of government, private, collective, and public actors through learning operations

   

Yes

EXAMPLES OF CONCEPTS “WITH ADJECTIVES”

Good governance, rule-based governance, regulatory governance

Decentralizing governance

Global governance, interactive governance, democratic governance

Reflexive governance, governance of the common ground, governance from the ground up

EXAMPLES OF DISCIPLINES

Developmental studies, legal theory, public administration

EU studies, urban politics studies

IR studies, economics, urban politics studies

Political philosophy

EXAMPLES OF PROCESSES

NPM movement

Decentralization

Decentralization, democratization

Democratization in advanced countries

EXAMPLES OF INDEXES

Functioning of Government Index (FH), Index of African Governance (World Peace Foundation), property rights and rule-based governance, index of objective indicators of good governance, governance indicators (WB)

Management Index (Bertelsmann Stiftung)

Within the “historical approach” to define state capacity, the Stateness Index was developed by specialists of Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University) and published in 2007 (Melville 2009). This index covered 192 states. Stateness is defined as the “state’s capacity to maintain its existence, sustain its independent development, and deal with domestic and external problems, that is, to exercise the prerogatives of a sovereign” (Melville 2009, 53).

The “functional approach” to the conceptualization of stateness is represented by Stateness Combined Index by Bartolini (Cheema and Rondinelli 2007, 318). Within this approach we can find other indices: e.g., State Fragility Index and State Failure Index developed by the Center for Systemic Peace (2014), Government Effectiveness Index of World Bank (World Bank 2016b), Functioning of Government Index of Freedom House (Freedom House 2016).

We already know how Bartolini define stateness. As for the State Fragility Index – stateness or more precisely “a country’s fragility is closely associated with its state capacity to manage conflict; make and implement public policy; and deliver essential services and its systemic resilience in maintaining system coherence, cohesion, and quality of life; responding effectively to challenges and crises, and sustaining progressive development” (Marshall and Elzinga-Marshall 2015, 7).

The next indices – State Failure Index, Government Effectiveness Index, and Functioning of Government Index – do not precisely measure stateness. The State Failure Index measures such specific aspects of stateness such as political instability (ethnic war, revolutionary war, adverse regime change, and genocide/politicide). Government Effectiveness Index and Functioning of Government Index mix performance of governmental functions parameters with governance indicators. Also, the latest index, strictly speaking, was developed for the measurement of democracy and used as a subindex for the Freedom House index of democracy (Freedom House 2016).

The Stateness Index of Bertelsmann Stiftung is trying to measure stateness in the Generic or Synthetic tradition to conceptualize stateness (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2016a). Stateness here is “examined through questions specifically dealing with the state’s monopoly on the use of force and basic administrative structures” (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2016b) and also with the legitimacy of citizenship and the acceptance of the nation-state.

International comparators do not work within the “Socio-Cultural Approach” to define stateness. The Bertelsmann Stiftung as one of four indicators of stateness uses “state identity” by asking the experts: “To what extent do all relevant groups in society agree about citizenship and accept the nation-state as legitimate?” But this is not the same as what Stepan and Linz mean, when they established their “stateness problem” as an “identity crisis” at a personal level with nation-state and when a citizen has a problem identifying him/herself with the nation and chose other forms of identity (global, local, etc.).

Indices of the governance can be associated with only two out of four approaches to define governance (see Table 2).

The most popular for international comparators (or agencies that make indices to compare countries on different societal parameters of development) is the “state-limited governance” approach, within which a lot of governance indices are made: Functioning of Government Index (Freedom House, FH), Property Rights and Rule-based Governance (World Bank, WB), Index of African Governance (World Peace Foundation), Index of Objective Indicators of Good Governance (WB), Governance Indicators (WB).

The most popular governance comparator – the World Bank – defines governance as “the process by which governments are selected, monitored and replaced; the capacity of the government to effectively formulate and implement sound policies; and the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them” (World Bank 2016b). The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) project measures six dimensions of governance: Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law and Control of Corruption – and does not aggregate it in an averaging index.

Also the World Bank assesses indices of Property Rights and Rule-based Governance – “the extent to which private economic activity is facilitated by an effective legal system and rule-based governance structure in which property and contract rights are reliably respected and enforced” (Teorell et al. 2016, 387). The three dimensions of this type of governance are: “(a) legal basis for secure property and contract rights; (b) predictability, transparency, and impartiality of laws and regulations affecting economic activity, and their enforcement by the legal and judicial system; and (c) crime and violence as an impediment to economic activity” (Teorell et al. 2016, 387).

Index of Objective Indicators of Good Governance by the World Bank (Knack and Kugler 2002) consists of nine indicators: “the regulation of entry, contract enforcement, contract intensive money, international trade tax revenue, budgetary volatility, revenue source volatility, telephone wait times, telephone faults, and the percentage of revenues paid to public officials in bribes, as reported in surveys of business firms” (Teorell et al. 2011, 85).

Index of African Governance by the World Peace Foundation (Rotberg and Gisselquist 2009) defines governance very broadly but still puts the state and its responsibility to provide and deliver political, social, and economic goods and services for citizens in the center. This index is based on five subindicators: “safety and security; rule of law, transparency and corruption; participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity; human development” (Teorell et al. 2016, 347).

Index of Functioning of Government by Freedom House examines to “what extent the freely elected head of government and a national legislative representative determine the policies of the government; if the government is free from pervasive corruption; and if the government is accountable to the electorate between elections and operates with openness and transparency” (Teorell et al. 2016, 275).

“Multilateral governance” could be illustrated by Management Index by Bertelsmann Stiftung and consist of five criteria: level of difficulty – structural difficulties (such as poverty, disasters, pandemics), civil society traditions, and social, ethnic, and religious conflicts intensity; steering capability – “the government manages reforms effectively and can achieve its policy priorities”; resource efficiency – “the government makes optimum use of available resources”; consensus-building – “the political leadership establishes a broad consensus on reform with other actors in society, without sacrificing its reform goals”; international cooperation – “the political leadership is willing and able to cooperate with external supporters and organizations” (Donner et al. 2016).

International comparators do not conduct any rankings to evaluate countries’ success or failure in establishing multilevel and\or participatory governance.

Russian Specifics: Failures of “State-Centric” Approach in Practical Policy-Making

According to the main indices of stateness provided by international comparators, Russia has good and moderate positions. For comparison we took the three main indices that measure stateness directly (The Stateness Combined Index by Bartolini measured the stateness directly but was not included here as limit its “sample” only by Western European states.) (the Stateness Index by MGIMO, the State Fragility Index by the Center for Systemic Peace, and the Stateness Index by Bertelsmann Stiftung) and compared Russia with seven countries (other BRICS countries: Brazil, India, China, and South Africa; the USA, because Russia always was challenging US ambitions as superpower; Norway, like Russia, one of the largest producer of oil and gas in Europe; Poland, like Russia, one of the postcommunist bloc country) (see Table 3).
Table 3

Positions of Russia in international indices of stateness

 

The Stateness Index (Melville 2009)

The State Fragility Index (Center for Systemic Peace 2014)

The Stateness Index (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2016a)

 

Rank

Decilea

Rank

Decilea

Rank

Decilea

Russia

27 (192)

2

91–102 (167)

6

43–47 (129)

4

Brazil

9 (192)

1

59–67 (167)

4

38–42 (129)

3

India

81 (192)

5

118–130 (167)

8

62–75 (129)

5

China

12 (192)

1

68–75 (167)

5

28–31 (129)

2

South Africa

30 (192)

2

86–90 (167)

6

48–61 (129)

4

USA

1 (192)

1

42–50 (167)

3

Norway

31 (192)

2

29–41 (167)

2

Poland

32 (192)

2

1–22 (167)

1

7–10 (129)

1

aCountry got 1st position, if less than 10% of states have the same position; 2nd – less than 20%, 3rd – less than 30%; etc.

The highest position Russia takes on the Stateness Index (7.5 points out of 10 and 27th place out of 192 countries), which put it in the top quintile.

Russia has more moderate positions according to the State Fragility Index. Here Russia got 9 points out of 25, where ranges differ from 0 “no fragility” to 25 “extreme fragility.” The State Fragility Index provides its rankings in dynamics: Russia little improves its state capacity from 10 points in 1995 to 9 in 2015 but not significantly. Russia shares 91–102 rank with other 12 countries and belongs to the top 60% of countries in the world, like South Africa, and enjoys a better position than India.

The Stateness Index by Bertelsmann Stiftung has fewer countries in its sample (it excludes “developed countries” like the USA and Western European states). Russia here is in the top 40% of countries, like South Africa, ahead of India, and behind Brazil, China, and Poland. The stateness of Russia in the Bertelsmann Stiftung interpretation did not change significantly (index value changed from 7.5 out of 10.0 in 2006 to 8.0 in 2016).

From these indices of international comparators we can conclude that Russia is independent enough from other actors, enjoys its primacy, autonomy, and sovereignty; has moderate problems with state capacity to perform governmental functions; but in general has a stable place in first 40% of “developing countries.”

However, political scientists and public policy analysts highlight that the main problem of policy-making in Russia is its reduction to the distribution of social benefits obtained from the high revenues from oil and gas sales. Serious social reforms cannot be properly contested and deliberated by different political actors and stakeholders; policy options and tools became the product of backstage coordination within a closed system of high-level federal bureaucracy. Therefore, any social reforms beyond distributive policy are faced with public protests or sabotage by local elites or stakeholders, who were excluded from the policy-making process. In case of sabotage, the policy change remains on paper and is never implemented. The main style of policy implementation when protests arise is “manual government”: “direct and personal intervention from the highest levels in order to respond effectively” and “constant manual control by top leaders” is required. “This is because the increasingly centralized system gives very little incentive for lower levels of government [and to other policy actors] to try something new and, more importantly, gives them little real authority to do so – even when it comes to resolving local problems” (Petrov et al. 2010, 22–23). Examples of such “manual government” are the cash-for-benefits reforms in 2005, policy of banning all right-hand-drive cars in Russia in 2005–2006, and restrictions on housing policy in 2006 (Greene 2014).

Moreover, the analysis of stateness using the “sociocultural tradition” gives us more insights to the main “stateness problem” for Russia: the lack of citizen identification with the nation-state. Because international comparators do not work within the “sociocultural tradition,” we used as a proxy-parameter the perceptions of national pride to illustrate this problem (see Fig. 1).
Fig. 1

How proud are you of your nationality? (% of respondents said “very proud”) (Source: World Value Survey 2016)

Less than one third of Russians are very proud of their nationality, and this has not changed significantly over time (only in 2006, 45% of Russians were very proud of their nationality). In other countries (India, South Africa, Poland, the USA) majority of the population are “very proud” of their nationality. Together with Russia other leaders of “state consistency” rankings Brazil and China have problems with “national identity.” For Brazil it can be temporary phenomenon, as in 1991 the majority (64%) of Brazilians were “very proud” of their nationality; for two authoritarian polities with the elements of former empires – China and Russia – this problem is more persistent.

About 20% of Russians would like to emigrate outside the former USSR for permanent residence (Levada center 2016). The number of potential emigrants has the tendency to grow, as in 1990 only 11% wanted to do so. Willingness to emigrate is declared more by the youth (18–24 years old) and respondents with higher education (Levada center 2015).

Therefore, we can conclude that international indices do not show the real contemporary problems of stateness, because they still work in a “state-centric” paradigm to measure stateness and do not capture such important questions as citizen identity with the state, including “national identity.” The “state-centric” approach to policy-making can lead to state failures, if it ignores the “sociocultural” dimension of stateness and state-building.

To illustrate Russian specifics with governance we took three indices that provide indices for all or the majority of the countries (Index of African Governance by World Peace Foundation is made for 53 Africa’s countries; Property Rights and Rule-based Governance by World Bank is made for 80 countries, mostly of African continent; Index of Objective Indicators of Good Governance by World Bank was made only in 2002 (Knack and Kugler 2002)) (Table 4).
Table 4

Positions of Russia in international indices of governance

 

Functioning of Government Index (Freedom House 2016)

Governance Indicators (World Bank 2016b)b

Management Index (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2016a)

 

Rank

Decilea

Rank

Decilea

Rank

Decilea

Russia

141–159 (195)

8

157 (202)

8

114 (129)

9

Brazil

71–84 (195)

4

99 (202)

5

14 (129)

2

India

56–70 (195)

3

104 (202)

6

24 (129)

2

China

160–170 (195)

9

130 (202)

7

74 (129)

6

South Africa

71–84 (195)

4

76 (202)

4

27 (129)

3

USA

31–55 (195)

2

24 (202)

2

Norway

1–19 (195)

1

3 (202)

1

Poland

31–55 (195)

2

41 (202)

2

5 (129)

1

aCountry got 1st position, if less than 10% of states have the same position; 2nd – less than 20%, 3rd – less than 30%; etc.

bData available for 2015, here the average of six indicators of governance was calculated

Russia has low positons according to all three indices of governance. The situation for Russia is worsening if we move from “government-based” definitions of governance towards more “polycentric” conceptions, which is trying to measure not only government success in public administration but also democratic governance and nongovernmental actors involvement in the policy-making process.

Functioning of Government Index by Freedom House gives to Russia three points out of 12 (where 0 is the worst performance of government and 12 is the best). The position of Russia in this ranking has not changed during the last 10 years.

According to the Governance Indicators, ranging from −2.5 (weak) to 2.5 (strong) for governance performances, World Bank assesses Voice and Accountability in Russia at −1.07 points; Political Stability and Absence of Violence/Terrorism −1.05 points; Government Effectiveness −0.18 points, Regulatory Quality −0.52 points; Rule of Law −0.72 points; Control of Corruption −0.86 points. The average of all six indicators is −0.73 points. During the last 10 years of observations this assessment does not change significantly, except for a decrease in Voice and Accountability, which “reflects perceptions of the extent to which a country’s citizens are able to participate in selecting their government, as well as freedom of expression, freedom of association, and a free media” (World Bank 2016b).

During the 10 years of observation the Management Index of Bertelsmann Stiftung for Russia decreased from 3.86 to 3.17 (out of 10); in 2006 it was 87 out of 129 developing countries (BTI in its rankings does not include “developed countries” of North America, Western Europe, Australia, etc.), and in 2016 Russia was in 114 place. Negative changes occurred in all five categories of the management index, except recourse efficiency, which stays the same. If we look into subcategories we see that most of all, the quality of management in Russia suffered due to the decrease in the assessments of Civil society traditions, GNI per capita, government policy learning capability, the ability of reformers to overcome the antidemocratic veto actors, civil society participation, effective use of international support, and credibility of the government in relations with international community. These subcategories, except civil society traditions and policy learning capability in 2016 get the lowest grades (1 and 2 out of 10). The majority of them related to a multilevel and multilateral understanding of governance.

The Russian political leadership recently lost control over such antidemocratic actors as the Russian Orthodox Church, whose influence on policy-making became more and more significant (e.g., Church supports Russian “anti-gay legislature,” introducing religious studies at schools) (Soroka 2016); some governors of Russian regions (e.g., Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechnya) pursue a policy of violating human rights in the region and became known for their extremist statements in relation to the political opposition (Dubnov 2016); oligarchs – high state officials, who control big state corporations, and businessmen, who had friendly relations with high state officials – enjoy privileges and profits due to their close ties with power (Kolesnikov 2015); governmental nongovernmental organizations, GONGO (such as the “Night Wolves” movement, which is financed by the government to conduct “patriotic” public campaigns sometimes using violence against political opposition). Civil society participation become more and more restricted, for example, by implementing draconian legislation towards NGOs independent from government (such as “foreign agent law” and “antiextremist laws” that are used to close independent NGOs and abuse opposition activists) (Greene 2014). After the annexation of the Crimea by Russia and the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine, where Russian troops were involved, and the sanctions imposed by the USA and EU against Russian policy in Ukraine, Russia as an international partner is not considered credible and reliable. In Russia any hint of agreement with “Western countries” or disagreement with official state positions on the burning political issues (such as the Ukrainian crisis, repressions of political opposition, election results) will automatically make you a “foreign agent” and an “enemy of the state,” which are becoming synonymous.

As we can see from this brief analysis of the Russian specifics of governance, the problem to raise its effectiveness is on the level of democratization. The problem also is that we have no instrument to measure a country’s success in the introduction and development of the advanced version of governance – participatory governance – which has become an empirical fact in “embedded democracies” and increasingly demanded by public in “developing countries.” What we have is different indices of democracy, where Russia has very modest positions (Russian politics in the last 25 years has changed considerably. Political regime in Russia is called differently “partly free” (1991–2003) and “not free” (2004–2015) (Freedom House 2016); “open anocracy” or “hybrid regime” (1992–1999 and 2007–2015) and even “democracy” (2000–2006) – Polity IV project (Center for Systemic Peace 2014); “hybrid regime” (2006–2010) and “authoritarian regime” (2011–2015) (Economist 2015); “defective” “nonliberal” democracy in relation to the presidency of Boris Yeltsin (Merkel and Croissant 2002) and “plebiscite bureaucratic regime” in relation to the presidency of Vladimir Putin (Holodkovsky 2009). Nevertheless, common place is that the Russian political regime has highly personalized nature and political dynamics of the last 25 years was towards the strengthening of authoritarian tendencies.), and sociological surveys, based on which we can conclude that even Russian citizens are very skeptical about the level of democratic governance in their own country (see Fig. 2).
Fig. 2

How democratically is this country being governed today? (1 – “Not at all democratic,” 10 – “Completely democratic,” % of respondents) (Source: World Value Survey 2016)

Compared with BRICS countries, the USA, and Poland, Russia is assessed as the least democratically governed country. Next to Russia to the level of public skepticism about democratic governance performance in the country is Brazil. Here, they have similar rankings as they did in their level of national pride. Thus, we can assume that both countries have a “stateness problem” and a democratic governance performance problem. Surprisingly, China appeared in the cluster of countries, where citizens are more satisfied with democratic governance performance. Because China in the democracy rankings is considered an authoritarian country, as is Russia, we can assume that Chinese citizens are just more optimistic about their governance. This puzzle also proves that we need more instruments to measure such new forms of governance as democratic and participatory governance.

Conclusion

The main watershed between the different traditions of the conceptualization of stateness is between the “old” (“historical” and “functional” approaches to define stateness) and the “new” (“sociocultural” approach). The “old” tradition pays attention to such dimension of stateness as autonomy of government (from other states and international actors or from actors within state through effectively providing governmental functions). This tradition goes back to the notion of sovereignty. The “new” tradition concentrates on such dimensions of stateness as the identification of the citizens with the state (through participation in the political process, nation- and state-building). Therefore, this tradition works with and is based on such notions as, first of all, “identity,” “nation,” and “democracy.”

International comparators mostly work within the “old” tradition and prefer “historical,” “functional,” or “synthetic” approaches to define stateness, which is reflected in the domination of this discourse in stateness studies. Alternative discourse and research program for stateness studies should be developed within the “new” tradition or the “sociocultural approach” to define stateness.

To develop it there are some limitations or conceptualization problems. First is the under-theorized (or under-conceptualized) position of stateness as a concept including its positioning around such notions as identity, democracy, and nation. Second is the under-operationalized character of the concept of “stateness as identity,” that means few attempts were made to understand and calculate the parameters and terms which could help to describe “stateness as identity” that will help to switch from parameters to measurable indicators.

For the concept of governance, the line of demarcation lies between the “government-centric” tradition to define governance (state-limited, multilevel, and multilateral governance approaches) and the “participatory governance” approach.

The first tradition gives the government a central role in governance through steering society and economy using soft regulation on the basis of accountability, transparency, client orientation, reduction of corruption, and rule of law, despite some upgrade of the concept through adding such dimensions of governance as bargaining with different institutional levels of decision-making (local, regional, national, supranational, and global) and interaction between governmental and nongovernmental actors.

The second tradition pays attention to learning operations and knowledge as core elements of governance and participation based on knowledge of government, private, collective, and public actors. The key idea here is that knowledge in contemporary societal systems could not be monopolized by one actor (government, business, or civil) – everybody has knowledge, and the one of the main purpose of governance is to actualize this knowledge for decision-making.

The first tradition is dominated in discourse about governance. International comparators work only within this paradigm. The limitations and conceptualization problems, the under-theorized, or under-conceptualized, and under-operationalized character of governance as reflexive participation of government, private, collective, and public actors through learning operations can be fixed.

Therefore, governance practices of some states (as we illustrated in the Russian example) and governance instruments (such as indices of international comparators) have not kept in step with recent developments in the theory of state and governance and with the demands of civil society and different publics for more responsive and participatory governance. State and government are no more the centers of the policy-making universe.

Cross-References

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Policy Department, Faculty of Social SciencesNational Research University Higher School of EconomicsMoscowRussia