1 Introduction

1.1 The Rise of Civil Society Assistance 

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Is it feasible to promote and strengthen civil society from abroad? This is the main question of this dissertation. Since the middle of the 1990s this question is of utmost importance for practitioners and theorists alike. With the end of the communist bloc and the transformations taking place in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the New Independent States the promotion and protection of democracy from abroad has become a major challenge for democratic states. With hardly any experience in the field and after only a few not very useful lessons in development aid, donors quickly move eastwards with the ambitious aim of promoting democracy and little idea how to do so. The main actors were state agencies of international assistance such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) or the British Department for International Development (DFID), and international organizations such as the United Nations or the European Union. Additionally, non-state actors such as charity organizations, foundations, trade unions and associations went abroad, as well as quasi-independent but fully state financed “democracy foundations”. These are foundations that specialize in extending political assistance to other states such as the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) or the German political foundations. But neither the former nor the latter donors had any instruments at hand to master the challenge. Even the German political foundations that were very active in the democratization processes in Southern Europe1 could not draw on previous experiences – the situations were too different in post-communist countries that faced the “triple transition” (Offe 1991) of simultaneously transforming the economy and political system, and sometimes even the territory.

The theoretical debates of the time failed to provide answers and concepts how to master the task ahead. The international scholarly community was taken by surprise by the fall of Communism and the peaceful transformations taking place in Central and Eastern Europe. International Relations theorists, on the one hand, provided theories explaining an international system marked by bipolarity, and hardly focused on the question how the political system of a state was affected by international processes.2 In consequence they offered no answers to the pressing question how to support democracy from the outside. Comparative analysts concerned with democratization, on the other hand, neglected the impact of international factors on democratization and exclusively focused on domestic factors of democratization. Broadly speaking, scholars approached democratization processes in two different ways, stressing either the importance of structural factors in explaining regime change (see e. g. Lipset 1981) or the importance of actor choices and constellations (see e.g. O’Donnell/Schmitter 1987). Common to both approaches, however, is the assumption that the origins of regime change lie exclusively in the domestic realm. Both approaches thus fail to integrate international factors into the analysis of democratization processes, a task which has been identified as one of the major current challenges to democratization theory (Remmer 1995). Only in the middle of the 1990s did comparative analysts start to investigate the “international dimension of democracy” (Whitehead 1996) and recognize the importance of international factors in explaining regime change such as “demonstration effects” (Pridham 1994), “contagion through proximity” (Whitehead 1996), processes of diffusion of democratic institutions, practices and ideas (Diamond 1997, Whitehead 1996), conditionality (Schmitter 1996), or the efforts of international state and non-state actors to directly promote and protect democracy from abroad (Offe/Schmitter forthcoming). The prominence of international factors in explaining regime change thus is, in the words of Alex Pravda, “the result of a long academic journey” (Pravda 2001: 1) and comes as a reaction to transitions in Central and Eastern Europe, which can hardly be explained without accounting for developments in and the final collapse of the Soviet Union.

In 1989/90, however, practitioners that aimed to assist the new democracies at their Eastern borders were left with few concepts on how best to assist democracy abroad. Nonetheless they were eager to help, and moreover, faced a massive demand of international assistance and advice, as is evident in the following quote:

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“We need advice, here, now, immediately” (President Vaclav Havel to a NDI delegation in December 1989 cited in: Glenn 1999: 6).

In face of an immense international eagerness to assist the historic developments in Central and Eastern Europe and a pressing appeal for assistance, donors largely resorted to the models they knew best: their own democratic system was used as a template that donors aimed to transfer to other places. As a consequence, “institutional-modeling” became the prevailing donor strategy (Carothers 1997). Donors approached democratization processes with an internal checklist in mind made up of the major institutional features of democracy: free and fair elections, competing political parties, an independent judiciary, an effective public administration, independent media etc., and established institutions according to this checklist (Carothers 1996a: 98p). According to Wedel (1998), donors thus perceived democracy assistance as a transmission belt that transmitted missing links into other places.

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The initial focus on institutions, however, did not deliver the desired results. Although formal democratic rules were in place, the new structures often did not perform like their Western role models. The rise of “democracies with adjectives” (Collier/Levitsky 1997) such as “delegative” (O’Donnell 1994), “defective” (Merkel 1999) or “illiberal” (Zakaria 1997) increasingly raises the awareness that formal institutions alone do not constitute a sufficient basis for a consolidated, representative and legitimate democracy. O’Donnell points out that new democracies often fail to consolidate. Although elections are in place and ensure “vertical accountability”, “horizontal accountability” that prevents the abuse of power and the misuse of authority is missing. Informal practices and habits of the previous regime often persist and prevent the effective functioning of formal institutions, thus resulting in “formal institutions with informal practices” (Olson 1999). With regard to the consolidation phase in particular, the academic attention thus shifts to forces outside the institutional arena of parliaments and parties highlighting the importance of “informal rules” (O’Donnell 1996), “social capital” (Putnam 1993), associations and neo-corporatist arrangements (Schmitter 1992), and civil society. Civil society is thus recognized as a crucial element that guarantees a successful transition to democracy.3 The proclaimed virtues of civil society are manifold: Civil society and its institutions trigger democratic behavior or a ‘civic ethos’, result in inter-personal trust and ‘social capital’. A vibrant civil society acts as a ‘watch-dog’ controlling the power of the state. It also ensures accountable government by providing an intermediary sphere between the state and the people. And finally, civil society enhances public discourse and generates a public sphere in which citizens can debate freely and independently over the state and other authorities.4 

As regards the prominence of the concept of civil society, it comes as no surprise that donors supplemented their initial emphasis on institutions in the middle of the 1990s and increasingly focused on citizens and civil society. Bottom-up strategies to assist democracy that aimed to strengthen democratic forces inside society seemed to be a more valuable device than building democracy from the top-down. This is even more so, as the euphoria concerning the “reemergence of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe”, to cite a book title of the time (Rau 1991), quickly dwindled. Civil society and citizens’ activities leveraged democracy in countries such as Poland or the Czech Republic.5 Hopes were thus high that the reemerged civil societies in Central and Eastern Europe would act as a catalyst for regime change. This was, however, not the case. In contrast, civic participation in CEE remained low (Howard 2003). Several analysts point to the weakness of civil society in post-communist countries and to likely negative consequences for the consolidation of democracy.6 Triggering the development of civil society thus became a major concern of donors interested in democracy assistance. Carothers points out (1999b: 59):

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“Many aid providers have come to see civil society development as the key to unblocking stagnant or failing transitions over the long term”.

As a result, we witness an immense rise of civil society assistance in CEE. Santiso (2001: 12) even characterizes civil society assistance as the “most rapidly expanding pillar of democracy aid”. There is no donor that does not provide programs focusing on civil society. The PHARE democracy program of the EU, the British Know-how Fund, parts of the SEED program of the USA (Support for East European Democracy), and the activities of German political foundations are just a few examples. On top of that, a wide spectrum of private actors supports civil society in CEE, many of which have never been involved in international aid before (Quigley 1997). Schmitter (1996: 39) notices:

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“The international context surrounding democratization has shifted from a primary reliance on public, inter-governmental channels of influence toward an increased involvement of private, non-governmental organizations ...”.

1.2 Key Interests and Concerns

The burgeoning phenomenon of civil society assistance requires academic contemplation. The question arises whether it is at all feasible to trigger and sustain civil society development from the outside. Civil society is commonly understood as

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“The realm of organized social life that is voluntary, self-generating, (largely) self-supporting, autonomous from the state and bound by a legal order or set of shared rules” (Diamond 1994:5).

It is truly domestic and endogenous in character and thus not easily open to external design. Civil society is more than a collection of non-governmental, formally structured, independent, voluntary, and self-organized organizations. Additionally, civil society necessitates an ethical life (Sittlichkeit) (Hegel), a “civic ethos” (Offe 2000a), or “civilizational competence” (Sztompka 1993). Civil society thus relies on certain patterns of behavior, moral qualities, and liberal values that developed in Western Europe over centuries. One may doubt that such patterns of behavior and moral qualities come as a result of externally conducted programs and projects. The question thus is: what is the outcome of civil society assistance? Does civil society result in more civil society, despite everything said above, or does it trigger unintended and surprising effects?

The literature at hand provides few answers to these questions. The great magnitude of civil society assistance contrasts with the little scholarly attention to this new phenomenon. Existing studies on civil society assistance mainly focus on donors, their strategies, projects and programs (Wedel 1998).7 The “question of strategy” (Carothers 1997) stands in the forefront. More often than not, research is driven the concern of donors to “… devise effective strategies to support a wide variety of democratization processes” (Santiso 2001: 1). The focus on donor activities, projects and programs, however, reduces assistance merely to a business of right strategies and best practices. Moreover, this approach accounts for nothing more than an assessment of the output rather than the outcome of assistance. The overemphasis on donors falls short of capturing the various ways how recipients respond to the efforts of donors, and how civil society assistance is perceived, adopted, and adapted in different domestic contexts. Donors do feel the need to evaluate their activities and are eager to find effective tools to assess the outcome of assistance. They ways and means how this is done are, however, generally inadequate.8 Besides the methodological problems of finding measurable indicators and isolating causal effects, the problem has much to do with donor wants. In general, evaluation is the final event in a project. Although a full assessment is only feasible years after the activity and the funding came to end, this is rarely done. Moreover, donors fail to appreciate that the outcome of assistance is more than anything the result of the combined efforts of international assistance on the one hand, and domestic processes on the other. However, no donor wants to hear that his activity together with the efforts of the Americans, British and the European Union had this or that result. International assistance largely remains a national enterprise (Guilhot 2003) and this leaves little room for donor-funded evaluations that focus on the combined efforts of international actors in certain issue areas.

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Only recently case studies have been presented that aim to grasp the outcome of assistance in single countries or issue areas.9 These studies provide, however, mixed results.10 Some studies jump to the conclusion that international assistance makes a valuable contribution to the transformation processes in the East and helps to consolidate democracy and civil society,11 or argue at least that the small impact of international aid is the result of inappropriate donor strategies and approaches:

“The current crisis of development cooperation and debate on aid effectiveness should not overshadow the significant and decisive influence international assistance to democracy and good governance has had on the shape and direction of democratisation. It nevertheless requires us to revisit traditional strategies and devised innovative approaches to foster democracy” (Santiso 2001: 20).

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Others, however, point out that the effect of international assistance ranges from modest to negligible (Carothers 1996a: 95pp), or even argue that Western assistance had negative effects:

“The grant game encourages donors as well as grant recipients to behave in ways that hinder rather than facilitate civic development” (Henderson 2002: 140p) … „ … “Although aid has been crucial in expanding NGO capacity, it has discouraged groups from functioning as a civil society” (ibid: 143).

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The most puzzling question facing scholars of civil society assistance is thus not only if civil society can be developed externally, but moreover when, and under what conditions this may happen? In other words, what are the causal mechanisms running from international assistance to domestic outcomes? Representatives of donor agencies conducting civil society programs are often puzzled by the paradox that the very same projects and measures produce lasting results in one country and remain without any effect in another country. The question is: What determines the fruitful ground on which civil society assistance falls?

The purpose of this dissertation is to provide robust answers to these questions. The dissertation thus aims to assess the outcome of civil society assistance in two case studies and to identify conditions that ensure that international assistance contributes to a vibrant civil society. In order to do so, emphasis is placed less on donors and their programs and projects. Instead, the main beneficiaries of civil society assistance are the main focus of the analysis. The aim of the dissertation is not to evaluate the effectiveness of different donors, rather to determine to what extent international assistance shaped civil society development in recipient countries. Which institutions, ideas, attitudes and concepts found their way into domestic settings? How has the assistance been perceived, adopted and adapted internally? In other words, the dissertation aims to grasp the outcome in contrast to the output of assistance. The outcome of assistance is, however, evident in recipient organizations, and especially in their activities and achievements. Moreover, a focus on recipients and their activities allows us to pinpoint unintended outcomes and consequences of civil society assistance. For all these reasons, this analysis will concentrate on a small number of recipients, so-called “main recipients” that may be, and often are, supported by a wide range of different donor organizations. Only the focus on the rooting of recipient organizations in society and a clarification of the consistency of recipient’s achievements with the normative concept of civil society allows us to reveal the effects of external assistance. The dissertation thus clarifies to what extent main recipient organizations act as carriers of civil society, whether they transmit the interests of their constituency into politics, whether they fulfill a watch-dog function and whether they are connected to society. In brief, the dissertation project aims to determine whether major recipients of aid fulfill democratic functions attributed to civil society. This study therefore analyzes main recipients, their sustainability, legitimacy and effectiveness as carriers of civil society.12 

The focus on recipients, however, does not imply that the donor side is neglected. In order to determine to what extent civil society development is shaped by foreign actors, resources and advice, the inflow of foreign assistance needs to be assessed on a quantitative as well as qualitative basis. A descriptive approach to donors, their programs and projects is thus necessary. In order to attain a broad picture of civil society assistance in CEE, the analysis concentrates on four major donors that have been of special importance in the region. The chosen examples are the European Union as the largest supranational actor, the United States as the largest non-European national donor, and Germany as the largest European national donor active in CEE. Finally, the Soros foundation provides an example of private commitment. As for civil society, the research focuses on so-called ‘infrastructural organizations’ who aim to strengthen civil society by providing necessary infrastructure and support. The main reason for this sample lies in the heavy emphasize given to those organizations by donors.

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The dissertation project will do all this by assessing the outcome of foreign assistance on civil society in two case studies: Poland and Slovakia. Being geographically close to the EU, the two countries Poland and Slovakia have been chosen because the prospect of EU membership is an important factor on democratization processes in both countries.

“The emphasis which most East European countries have given to joining European multilateral institutions has provided a powerful imperative for continuing with democratization so that they can meet the membership conditions” (Smith 2001: 54).

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The interest of the dissertation is, however, less to assess the impact of possible EU membership on civil society in democratizing countries, but rather to analyze the outcome of financial and technical assistance directly granted to domestic actors. Therefore the impact of EU membership will be held constant with a most-similar systems approach. However, among the countries geographically close to the EU, Poland and Slovakia are the most dissimilar. On the one hand Poland, which is culturally homogenous, has a firm national identity and no major ethical or cultural cleavages. It is the country in the former communist block with the most encompassing dissident movement, a forerunner with regard to democratic reforms with no major drawbacks on its way to becoming a consolidated democracy. On the other hand Slovakia, which is a rather small and ethnically heterogeneous country characterized by late independence and a late and feeble national awakening. Slovakia showed only weak traces of dissident culture during communism, and was governed by a repressive communism system that left little room for experiments with liberalization. Furthermore, Slovakia faced an authoritarian reverse wave between 1994 and 1998. One has to note, however, that both countries are among the most Catholic countries in Europe and that both were at least partly part of the Habsburg Empire. Nonetheless, a comparison of both countries is capable of revealing the effects of foreign assistance in two different domestic settings that are additionally shaped by thoroughly different cultural and historical developments structuring civil society development. A comparison of civil society assistance in Poland and Slovakia thus provides the possibility to analyze the effects of foreign assistance in two different domestic settings.

The core of the claim developed in subsequent chapters is that civil society assistance may well contribute to a vibrant civil society. The empowerment of democratically oriented non-state actors and their inclusion into the range of decision-makers as well as the introduction of new ideas into domestic settings are the main mechanisms that can bring about change and result in a rise of associational life. The outcome of assistance depends, however, on certain facilitating conditions. These are firstly the type of transaction between donor and recipient. Secondly, domestic actor constellations determine the attractiveness of new ideas to the range of decision-makers and thus their introduction into domestic settings.

1.3 The Structure of the Dissertation

The dissertation begins with three chapters that are mainly theoretical and conceptual. Here theoretical clarifications, key claims and hypothesis that are central to this project will be developed. Then the methodology guiding the empirical research is presented. Finally, civil society assistance is analyzed in the two case studies Poland and Slovakia.

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The first chapter focuses on the concept of civil society. More often than not, civil society is defined vaguely. Additionally, civil society is understood in various ways.

“Present-day political models that use the concept of civil society not only contradict one another but are also relatively poor in categories” (Cohen/Arato 1992: 83).

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As a result, the concept is not easily open to empirical scrutiny (Beyme 2000). For the envisaged research project, a clarification of the term is therefore as crucial as an identification of observable indicators of a ‘vibrant civil society’. An empirical analysis of civil society is, however, problematic due to the normative character of the concept. A review of the literature on civil society quickly reveals that the concept hardly refers to a given observable state but rather to a utopian ideal. In order to solve the problem of empirically analyzing a normative concept, the dissertation distinguishes two dimensions of civil society: (1) a structural dimension, and (2) a cultural dimension. Whereas the former points to the observable features of civil society, i.e. voluntary organizations of social life between state and market, the latter refers to the moral qualities on which civil society is built. This distinction allows us to observe the actual state of civil society in a given country by focusing on both dimensions separately. While the structural dimension is determined by the number and plurality of non-governmental organizations, the cultural dimension is apparent in civic participation, the relationships between different groups of society and the type of relationship between self-organized forms of social life and the state. Active citizens who are able and willing to represent their interests, cross-cutting cleavages among groups of civil society, a relationship between associations based on cooperation, tolerance and trust, the existence of peaceful conflict-resolution mechanisms, the capacity for common action, and a relationship between self-organized social life and the state that is based on cooperation and mutual recognition are factors that originate in the cultural dimension of civil society.

The second chapter aims to determine civil society assistance in greater detail. Civil society assistance is defined as deliberate, direct and explicit involvement of external actors into domestic settings. Civil society assistance focuses exclusively on societal actors of the recipient state and is thus always transnational in character. While recipients are thus exclusively non-state actors, donors may be state or non-state actors. The chapter approaches civil society assistance from a donor perspective acknowledging the fact that civil society assistance is first and foremost an enterprise driven by external actors. The chapter thus highlights the objectives, concepts and strategies of external donors. It will be clear that donors do not support civil society as an end in itself but as a means to achieve other ends such as democracy or good governance. Civil society assistance is thus always intentional and interest-driven. Additionally, donors base their assistance on vague concepts of civil society and comprehend civil society assistance largely as NGO support. Thereby donors support NGOs with two major strategies. Donors firstly aim to strengthen the institutions of civil society and thus focus on the structure of civil society. So called ‘institution building‘ is inspired by the assumption that associations and non-governmental organizations will automatically result in a vibrant civil society. Secondly, donors may apply a more fine-tuned approach and target a change in the behavioral and evaluative attitudes of recipients. This strategy labeled ‘capacity building‘ aims to ‘make people democratic‘ and focuses on the orientations of actors. Moreover, it aspires to trigger processes of learning and cognitive change. Additionally, donors largely rely on project-specific support in their efforts to assist civil society. The chapter concludes that civil society assistance and the strategies donors apply often yield unintended and even negative effects. Having own interests at stake raises doubt about the credibility of the donor. This even more so, as civil society assistance is always selective and political. The selectivity of donors that equips some with resources, know-how and contacts abound and leaves others with nothing generates not seldom envy and resentment as well as fierce competition among NGOs. As a result, civil society assistance often weakens rather than strengthens ties inside civil society. Moreover, project-specific support nurtures opportunistic behavior of recipients. In view of the scarce financial resources available, only NGOs that flexibly adapt to altering donors’ wants guarantee their financial existence. The intentional and selective character of civil society assistance thus may translate into nothing more than a supplementary stratum of donor-driven NGOs that fail to address their local constituencies. Additionally, by empowering certain domestic actors, donors intervene into the domestic power struggle. Civil society assistance is thus always political in nature, although donors try hard to appear nonpartisan and impartial. Civil society assistance thus risks being perceived as an illegitimate form of political intervention from without. Donors may be seen as unwelcome intruders, recipients as traitors and puppets of alien interests.

The fourth chapter is concerned with theory. The aim is to theoretically derive plausible answers to the question of the outcome of civil society assistance. In doing so, the theoretical considerations are not based on one encompassing or holistic theory. They rather make use of a range of theoretical insights from different disciplines, thus accepting the fact that the analysis investigates international factors impacting on domestic structures and hence lies at the edge of international relations theory and comparative science (Hartmann 1997). The research thus follows the suggestion of Fritz Scharpf (1997: 16):

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“… we need to make greater investments in the theoretical quality of the working hypotheses we use. Moreover, since we also cannot deduce our working hypotheses from comprehensive theories, we need to combine more limited partial theories or well-understood “mechanisms” in modular explanations of complex cases”.

Based on sociological assumptions that stress the importance of the cultural basis of civil society and of recipient responses, the chapter aims to identify the conditions under which change occurs. In other words, what makes it possible that civil society can travel in contexts that lack a “civilizational competence”? To answer this question the dissertation puts actors and their interactions in the center of analysis in line with actor-centered institutionalism developed by Fritz Scharpf and Renate Mayntz (Scharpf/Mayntz 1995, Scharpf 1997). Emphasis is placed on how institutions are the result of social interaction. Although actors, their capabilities, orientations and interactions are affected by institutional settings, they do not determine, but only structure actors’ choices and strategic options. Such a framework leaves room for actor choices that may result in institutional and cultural change and also acknowledges the possibility and importance of cognitive change, that is, of learning.

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Following the insights of actor-centered institutionalism, two modes of external intervention will be identified and labeled ‘empowerment‘ and ‘learning‘. External actors may first alter the capabilities of domestic actors, i.e. “all action resources that allow an actor to influence an outcome in certain respects and to a certain degree” (Scharpf 1997: 43). By providing finances, technical equipment but also important information and know-how, donors may increase the action resources of chosen domestic actors, thus altering domestic actor constellations. A change in political outcomes is the likely consequence. Secondly, external actors may impact upon the orientations, that is, the perceptions and preferences, of domestic actors. The work of Peter Haas (1992) on “ephistemic communities” and Kathrin Sikkink (1993) on “principled-issue networks” reveal how this may happen and how a transfer of ideas and values into different cultural settings is possible. Transnational networks that are based on a core consensus of shared principles or common professional backgrounds have been identified as the main factor behind processes of cognitive convergence and cognitive change across national borders. Transnational networks of donors and recipients that are based on a core consensus are thus a promising mechanism when it comes to creating “civilizational competence”, “civic ethos” or an “appropriate spirit” (Offe 2000a) among recipients. Whether new ideas find their way into domestic settings depends, however, on the action resources of the “learners” on the one hand and on the attractiveness of the new orientations to other players of the political game on the other hand. In brief, transnational “principled issue networks” on the one hand, and domestic actor constellations and interactions on the other determine the outcome of civil society assistance.

The fifth chapter describes the methodology and research design of the empirical analysis. The chapter exposes the rationale behind the selection of the two country cases under investigation, and determines what to observe and how. Five questions that guide the empirical analysis are identified: First, what types of non-governmental organizations receive foreign attention? Are main recipients of assistance identifiable? Second, are such “main recipients” self-sustainable in the long run? Third, do their constituencies and the population at large accept them as legitimate domestic actors? Fourth, do the main recipients of assistance contribute to the advancement of civil society on the structural or cultural dimension in the countries under investigation? In other words, can they be labeled “carriers of civil society”? And finally and most importantly, to what extent does foreign support assist the main recipients in fulfilling their role as carriers of civil society?

The sixth chapter describes the four main donors of civil society assistance identified above and their major programs and activities of civil society assistance in Central and Eastern Europe. The seventh and eight chapters finally conduct the two case studies. In order to verify or falsify the hypothesis that civil society assistance promotes and strengthens civil society via the mechanisms empowerment and learning, this study has investigated civil society assistance to Poland and Slovakia throughout the 1990s. Both case studies proceed in the following steps. First, the analysis identifies the cultural legacies and preconditions of civil society in each case. Second, the state of civil society roughly ten years after transition will be portrayed. In doing so, the analysis highlights the distinction between the “structural” and the “cultural” dimension of civil society and makes us of the indicators identified in the first chapter.13 The third section then gives an overview of the history of civil society assistance in each country throughout the 1990s. Finally each case study focuses on the output and outcome of external assistance to civil society. Special emphasis will be placed here on major recipients, their sustainability, legitimacy and effectiveness in advancing the structural and the cultural dimension of civil society. The role of these “main recipients” in advancing a relationship between civil society and the state, in acting as intermediaries of assistance and in building networks and horizontal links among various civil society groups is of particular importance. The study thus aims to clarify the extent to which civil society assistance supports non-governmental organizations that act as carriers of civil society. However, the analysis does not stop here. The relationship between donors and recipients also requires clarification. Thus, the extent to which major recipients benefited from external assistance will be assessed. The final chapter will summarize the major results, and draw implications for further efforts to support civil society from abroad.

1.4 Research

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The study relies on four different sources of information. First, the analysis makes use of the extensive secondary literature on civil society development in Poland and Slovakia and studies focusing on NGO campaigns and civil society achievements in both countries. Second, databases of NGOs such as the KLON/JAWOR database in Poland, and the SAIA database in Slovakia were a valuable source of information as well as several surveys on the NGO sector in both countries. The study highly benefits from a survey conducted among Polish and Slovak NGOs in the context of a research project that focused on “democracy promotion and protection in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa” (DPP).14 The survey in which 72 Polish and 93 Slovak non-governmental organizations participated and which took place in 2002/03 inquires into characteristics of NGOs in Poland and Slovakia and in their relationships with foreign donors (see appendix 8). In addition, materials of donors and recipients proved to be valuable sources of information on donor and recipients’ strategies, objectives, underlying concepts and activities. Last but not least, the study relies heavily on qualitative expert interviews conducted by the author in both countries under investigation. In order to get a broad as possible picture, experts have been chosen from four different groups: (1) representatives of donor organizations in the home country (if possible) and especially in the recipient country; (2) representatives of recipient organizations; (3) local scholars working on civil society in their country; (4) politicians and representatives of NGOs in the country under investigation (see appendix 9).


Footnotes and Endnotes

1 Powell (1996) e.g. stresses the important role of the German political foundations in the democratization process in Spain.

2 For an excellent review of the international relations literature tackling the question of international influences on the political system, see: Hartmann (1997).

3 See e.g.: Diamond (1994), Linz/Stepan (1996), Lauth/Merkel (1997), Fagin (1998).

4 For the democratic functions attributed to civil society see e.g.: Diamond (1994), Fagin (1998), Croissant Lauth/Merkel (2000), Kraus (1999).

5 See for the importance of citizens’ activities and mass protests in bringing about regime change in CEE, e.g. Ekiert/Kubik (1999).

6 See e.g. Ost (1993), Sztompka (1993), Wesolowski (1995), Wiesenthal (1997), Merkel (2000), Offe (2000a), Howard (2003).

7 Examples of studies that largely focus on donors, in particular American donors, and on donor strategies are: Carothers (e.g. 1997, 1999a), Crawford (1996), Diamond (1997), Glenn (1999), Guilhot (2003), Hansen (1996), Jenkins (2001), Ottaway/Chang (1999), Quigley (1997), Santiso (2001).

8 This is the conclusion of Golub (1993) who analyses the evaluation practice of donors and highlights the various problems in current practices of evaluating democracy and civil society assistance. One must note that most of the problems he identified in evaluation practices are still relevant today. See for a new attempt to put the issue on the agenda: Bartsch et al (2003).

9 Examples are Chandler (2004) who investigates civil society assistance in Bosnia, Henderson (2002) who focuses on the case of Russia, Ekiert/Kubik (2000) who analyze international aid to Poland or McMahon (2004) who studies Western assistance to Women’s NGOs in CEE.

10 See for example the various case studies on Western impact on democratization in CEE in Zielonka/Pravda (2001), summarized in Smith (2001: 53pp): “The extent to which the West has had … an impact on democratic consolidation in Eastern Europe has varied from case to case. The West’s influence has been both indirectly and directly wielded, and to greater or lesser extent, depending on the country in consideration (ibid: 53).

11 See for example: Ekiert/Kubik (2000), Coston (1998), several case studies in Pravda/Zielonka (2001).

12 Main recipients have been identified by analyzing available project lists of the following donors: USAID, NED, EU (Phare), and the largest two German political foundations (FES, KAS). Thereby only programs and projects are covered that are explicitly designed by donors with the goal of supporting civil society. Main recipients are defined as NGOs that (1) are frequently supported by Western funds, that (2) receive assistance from at least three of the donor organizations under investigation, and (3) whose budget relies to at least 30% on foreign sources.

13 The identified indicators are: (1) number of NGOs and associations, (2) thematic distribution of NGOs, (3) regional distribution of NGOs, (4) civic participation and volunteerism, (5) relationship between civil society and state, (6) horizontal relationships between NGOs.

14 The project was a combined effort of Professor Claus Offe at the Humboldt-University, Berlin and Professor Philippe C. Schmitter at the European University Institute in Florence and their respective research staff conducted in 1999-2002. It was inspired by the question whether democratization from the outside was at all feasible and aimed to clarify the actual outcome of external involvement in processes of democratization. A part of the project focused on external activities to support civil society assistance.



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