News from Project B06


Andreas Heinrich and four other authors examined the role of recipient countries in the transnational transfer of knowledge on health policy. Their findings are published in the current issue of Communist and Post-Communist Studies.

The projects B05 (China) and B06 (post-Soviet region) are each investigating the reform of state social policy and which role international influences have played in this. As there are many similarities in their research, the two projects often cooperate with each other. The most recent evidence of their fruitful cooperation is the paper "The Agency of Recipient Countries in Transnational Policy-Related Knowledge Transfer: From Conditionality to Elaborated Autonomous Policy Learning", which Andreas Heinrich, Gulnaz Isabekova, Heiko Pleines (all project B06) and Armin Müller and Tobias ten Brink (both project B05) recently published in Communist and Post-Communist Studies.

The literature on transnational knowledge transfer mostly focuses on cases where the source of knowledge and the initiative for its transfer lie in the OECD. Heinrich, Isabekova, Müller, Pleines and ten Brink, on the other hand, consider in their paper cases where non-OECD countries have proactively sought policy advice abroad and evaluated the relevant ideas and concepts on the basis of their own requirements.

Based on the role of conditionality and the attitude of the recipient country towards cooperation with foreign sources of advice, the team of authors distinguishes five demand-side strategies in transnational policy-related knowledge transfer, each of which is analysed using the example of health care reform. The results highlight systematic differences in attitudes towards and use of foreign advice.

Below is a brief overview of the case studies that are analysed and discussed in more detail in the paper.

UKRAINE: Conditionality-Based International Knowledge Transfer

Ukraine is an example of the standard case of loan-based conditionality. Faced with imminent insolvency, the government was receptive to advice from international organisations. As Ukrainian policy advisors were also broadly in favour of IMF-supported reforms, this combination of external and domestic pressure encouraged the pursuit of reforms in spite of interest group opposition.

KYRGYZSTAN: Coordinated International Knowledge Transfer

The example of Kyrgyzstan corresponds to the ideal type of a coordination-based strategy. The recipient country has more leeway because the larger number of foreign partners makes roundtables and consensus-building the norm, as well as leadership from the recipient country and related stakeholders. This gives the government the opportunity to learn from different sources. At the same time, a high turnover of politicians and administrative staff limits both the capacity for policy analysis and the building of institutional memory.

RUSSIA: Sceptical Cooperation and Emphasis on Domestic Expertise

Since Putin became president, Russia has striven to become independent of international aid and influence. This also applies to social policy, where international advice has been pushed back in favour of national expertise. However, working relations with international organisations continue and domestic experts remain open to policy advice from abroad.

KAZAKHSTAN: Sovereign International Advice-Seeking

Kazakhstan's main goal is to establish the country as an equal and valued player on the international stage. This leads to official openness towards international organisations, and attempts to improve domestic expertise. At the same time, the authoritarian regime limits diversity in the national policy advisory system and restricts international advice accordingly.

CHINA: Elaborated Autonomous International Policy Learning

China has pursued a learning strategy in which bureaucratic actors tested foreign ideas that they considered compatible with their own interests. In their search for appropriate expertise, actors benefited from their long-term collaboration with international experts. China's strategy is "elaborate" in the sense that theoretical advice is sought to be tested in local experiments in order to make informed policy decisions; the strategy is "autonomous" in the sense that domestic politics is clearly prioritised over international commitments.


Contact:
Dr. Andreas Heinrich
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57071
E-Mail: heinrich@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
CRC 1342 project director Heiko Pleines has received an award from the University of Bremen for his outstanding supervision of doctoral students. Out of 59 nominees, he received the first prize in the humanities and social sciences category.

The prize for outstanding doctoral supervision, which comes with a total of 4,000 euros, is awarded to university staff for their professional and committed supervision of their doctoral students and is granted in two categories: the humanities / social sciences and the natural / engineering sciences (1st prize: Rolf Drechsler).

From SFB 1342, Klaus Schlichte and Andreas Breiter were also nominated. Andreas Breiter was honoured by the jury (consisting of representatives of the "Alumni of the University of Bremen" association and the "Bremen Early Career Researcher Development" network) with a second place.

The nominations were made by young academics whose doctorate at the University of Bremen dates back a maximum of 4 years. The prize money, which is donated by the Alumni Association, is designated for a specific purpose and flows into the supervision and support of future doctoral students.

Heiko Pleines describes what he regards as good doctoral supervision in a short video interview (in German only).


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-69602
E-Mail: pleines@uni-bremen.de

The B06 team has published much of its research data on the online platform "Discuss Data". This makes it permanently accessible and usable for the public.

Project B06 "External Reform Models and Internal Debates on the New Conceptualisation of Social Policy in the Post-Soviet Region" investigates how Western reform models were evaluated by policy makers and the public in the post-Soviet region and what influence they had on actual social policy reforms.

The datasets posted on Discuss Data include information on the influence of international organisation on the reform process in the post-Soviet region, opinion polls in Russia as well as transcripts of parliamentary debates and presidential speeches.

Discuss Data: The research data of project B06


Contact:
Dr. Andreas Heinrich
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57071
E-Mail: heinrich@uni-bremen.de

As a PhD student in project B06, she researched how the interaction between international development organisations, governments and civil society influences the sustainability of aid programmes in the health sector.

Gulnaz Isabekova, PhD student and member of project B06, successfully defended her dissertation "The Impact of Donor-State-Civil Society Interaction on the Sustainability of Health Aid. Case Studies of Projects combatting Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan". After an online presentation of her work lasting about half an hour (with an audience of about 40 guests), Isabekova discussed her research design and main findings with the examining board. The board* evaluated Isabekova's work and presentation very positively and, after a short consultation, congratulated her on passing the oral examination.

In her work, Isabekova examined how different types of interaction among stakeholders (i.e., international development organizations, governments, and civil society organizations) affect the sustainability of aid programmes in the field of health care. She focused on the countries following the project-based (Armenia) and Sector-Wide Approaches (Kyrgyzstan) to development assistance. Isabekova studied three large healthcare projects financed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Planned and implemented by recipients and not providers of development assistance, all three programmes represented the “bottom-up” approach to health aid. However, the projects varied in terms of their objectives and presence of conditions attached to the funding.

For her work, Isabekova collected the project-related documentation on selected cases and systematically analyzed the studies on development assistance, interaction among stakeholders, and sustainability of health aid in the context of developing countries. She has also conducted around 100 semi-structured interviews in the field and, on this basis, worked out causal mechanisms and hypotheses that explain the influence of the interaction among stakeholders on the sustainability of aid projects, i.e., whether project activities, benefits, and community capacity building persist locally after project funding has ended. According to Isabekova, although context-specific, these causal mechanisms and hypotheses are transferrable to health programmes in other developing countries following the project-based or Sector-Wide Approaches to development assistance.

Isabekova will submit her dissertation to the State and University Library for publication in the coming weeks.

Gulnaz Isabekova is the second doctoral student in CRC 1342 to complete her PhD, following Jean-Yves Gerlitz (project A03). Many more will follow in the coming weeks.

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* consisting of Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines (first supervisor, University of Bremen), Dr. Monika Ewa Kaminska (second supervisor, University of Bremen), Assoc. Prof. Kristina Jönsson (external examiner, Lund University), Prof. Dr. Tobias ten Brink (Jacobs University), Prof. Dr. Michael Rochlitz (University of Bremen), Dr. Amanda Shriwise (University of Bremen) and Liva Stupele (University of Bremen).

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Further readings:

Isabekova, Gulnaz, 2020: Mutual learning on the local level: The Swiss Red Cross and the Village Health Committees in the Kyrgyz Republic, in: Global Social Policy, online first.

Isabekova, Gulnaz; Pleines, Heiko, 2020: Integrating development aid into social policy: Lessons on cooperation and its challenges learned from the example of health care in Kyrgyzstan, in: Social Policy & Administration, online first.

Isabekova, Gulnaz, 2019: The relationships between stakeholders engaged in development assistance: towards an analytical framework, SOCIUM SFB 1342 WorkingPapers/3/2019, Bremen: SOCIUM, SFB 1342.


Contact:
Dr. Gulnaz Isabekova
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57073
E-Mail: gulnaz@uni-bremen.de

In "Social Policy & Administration", 7 CRC 1342 projects have presented case studies of social policy dynamics in the Global South. Their synthesis shows: The concept of causal mechanisms is particularly well suited for analysing such dynamics.

Seven projects of CRC 1342's project area B have published a Special Regional Issue of "Social Policy & Administration": Causal mechanisms in the analysis of transnational social policy dynamics: Evidence from the global south. The main research question the authors address is: Which causal mechanisms can capture the transnational dynamics of social policy in the Global South?

In order to find answers to this question, the authors present in‐depth case studies of social policy dynamics in different countries and regions in the Global South as well as different fields. All articles focus on the interplay of national and transnational actors when it comes to social policy‐making. (The papers of this Special Issue are listed below.)

The key findings of the authors are:

  • Explanations of social policy‐making in the Global South will remain incomplete unless transnational factors are taken into account
  • However, this does not mean that national factors are no longer important. In social policy decision‐making, national institutional settings and actors are key
  • Mechanism‐based research can plausibly trace the interplay between transnational and national actors and its impact on shaping social policy outcomes. The articles identify a variety of causal mechanisms that can capture this interplay
  • The output of social policy‐making is complex and can often not be explained by a single mechanism. Examining the combination and possible interaction of several causal mechanisms can provide more in‐depth explanations 
  • The concept of causal mechanisms can also be applied in comparative analyses
  • Mechanisms can be traced inductively in one case and then be applied to another case.


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Johanna Kuhlmann & Tobias ten Brink (2021). Causal mechanisms in the analysis of transnational social policy dynamics: Evidence from the global south. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12725

Armin Müller (2021). Bureaucratic conflict between transnational actor coalitions: The diffusion of British national vocational qualifications to China. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12689

Johanna Kuhlmann & Frank Nullmeier (2021). A mechanism‐based approach to the comparison of national pension systems in Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12691

Kressen Thyen & Roy Karadag (2021). Between affordable welfare and affordable food: Internationalized food subsidy reforms in Egypt and Tunisia. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12710

Monika Ewa Kaminska, Ertila Druga, Liva Stupele & Ante Malinar (2021). Changing the healthcare financing paradigm: Domestic actors and international organizations in the agenda setting for diffusion of social health insurance in post‐communist Central and Eastern Europe. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12724

Gulnaz Isabekova & Heiko Pleines (2021). Integrating development aid into social policy: Lessons on cooperation and its challenges learned from the example of health care in Kyrgyzstan. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12669

Anna Safuta (2021). When policy entrepreneurs fail: Explaining the failure of long‐term care reforms in Poland. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12714

Jakob Henninger & Friederike Römer (2021). Choose your battles: How civil society organisations choose context‐specific goals and activities to fight for immigrant welfare rights in Malaysia and Argentina. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12721


Contact:
Dr. Johanna Kuhlmann
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58574
E-Mail: johanna.kuhlmann@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Tobias ten Brink
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3382
E-Mail: t.tenbrink@jacobs-university.de

Project B06 has published a special issue in "Global Social Policy": In 7 articles, B06 members and guest authors analyse the role of international actors in the introduction of social policy concepts in post-Soviet states.

The authors of this special issue examine how the transfer of social policy concepts - and subsequently learning - takes place at the national and local level in the post-Soviet region. They focus on the question of which international and national actors are involved in this process. They analyse the interaction between international organisations (IOs) and national governments, between IOs and national experts, and between IOs and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The four members of the CRC project B06, Andreas Heinrich, Heiko Pleines, Gulnaz Isabekova and Martin Brand, have contributed to this issue.

In his article "The advice they give: Knowledge transfer of international organisations in countries of the former Soviet Union", Andreas Heinrich reviews the assumptions in the literature about the neoliberal agenda ('Washington Consensus') promoted by international organisations through knowledge transfer and about the power they supposedly have through loan conditionality to impose their will on countries in financial need. Heinrich uses the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia as examples to examine the advice that IOs have given to reform health care systems between 1991 and 2018.

Heiko Pleines analysed the content of parliamentary debates in Russia and Ukraine for his contribution "The framing of IMF and World Bank in political reform debates: The role of political orientation and policy fields in the cases of Russia and Ukraine". In both countries, both left-wing and right-wing parties rejected cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Nevertheless, Ukraine is one of the largest recipients of IMF loans. Due to the lack of support from parliament, the Ukrainian government retreated to the argument that no other donors were available for the reforms.

Gulnaz Isabekova looks at knowledge transfer at the local level in her contribution. Her article "Mutual learning on the local level: The Swiss Red Cross and the Village Health Committees in the Kyrgyz Republic" focuses on the interaction between IOs and local NGOs, and in particular on mutual learning between donors and recipients of development aid. For this, Isabekova examines the international project "Community Action for Health", which aims to empower rural communities in Kyrgyzstan and promote their participation in health care. Her article analyses the factors that enable mutual learning in practice. According to the article, the decentralisation of the organisation, project management and its handling of failure, continuous contact between donors and recipients of development assistance and the emphasis on the contribution of local expertise are relevant.

In his contribution "The OECD poverty rate: Lessons from the Russian case", Martin Brand emphasises the need to make normative assumptions about poverty explicit when using poverty data. In particular, for cross-national comparisons of poverty rates, Brand argues for a multidimensional poverty indicator so that several facets of this phenomenon and the specificities of the socio-economic fabric of the countries under consideration are taken into account.

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The special issue in "Global Social Policy" emerged from an international workshop on "International knowledge transfer in social policy: The case of the post-Soviet region", which was organised by project B06 at the University of Bremen on 9 November 2019.

Read the entire issue online (individual articles open access):
Global Social Policy, Volume 21 Issue 1, April 2021


Contact:
Martin Brand
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
E-Mail: martin.brand@uni-bremen.de

Dr. Andreas Heinrich
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57071
E-Mail: heinrich@uni-bremen.de

Dr. Gulnaz Isabekova
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57073
E-Mail: gulnaz@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-69602
E-Mail: pleines@uni-bremen.de

Today we look at Kyrgyzstan. Here, Gulnaz Isabekova has explored the factors that have facilitated mutual learning between donors and recipients of development aid, based on the example of Village Health Committees.

Village Health Committees: Long-lasting success

For her research, Isabekova conducted numerous interviews with project partners, from which we quote today:

"The study of the Village Health Committees in Kyrgyzstan demonstrates the sustainability of the community-based organizations beyond the end of the project-related funding. Established as part of the Swiss-financed Community Action for Health (2001-2017) project, the Village Health Committees contributed to the prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases in the country. Despite the end of the project-related funding, about 70-80% of the committees - composed of volunteers, mostly local residents - continued their health promotion activities (Interviewee B, para. 125–138, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 2018)."

Village Health Committees in Kyrgyzstan: Red dots

For more information see the publication:
Isabekova, Gulnaz, 2020: Mutual learning on the local level: The Swiss Red Cross and the Village Health Committees in the Kyrgyz Republic, in: Global Social Policy, online first, 28.08.2020

More about the research of project B06: External Reform Models and Internal Debates on the New Conceptualisation of Social Policy in the Post-Soviet Region

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Have you missed some of the previous windows? Click here for the complete CRC 1342 Advent Calendar 2020.


Contact:
Dr. Gulnaz Isabekova
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57073
E-Mail: gulnaz@uni-bremen.de

Tuberculosis bacteria (©Juan Gärtner - stock.adobe.com)
Tuberculosis bacteria (©Juan Gärtner - stock.adobe.com)
The spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Armenia is linked to returning labour migrants and their precarious living conditions in Russia.

The spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Armenia relates to the returning labour migrants from Russia. With limited access to healthcare and fear of deportation in Russia, the migrants have only limited abilities to get tested and, when necessary, to receive the relevant treatment. This situation has increased the burden of the disease in Armenia, where most of the patients with drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis are returned labour migrants.

For more information see our publication:
Isabekova, Gulnaz, 2019: The Contribution of Vulnerability of Labour Migrants to Drug Resistance in the Region: Overview and Suggestions, in: The European Journal of Development Research, 31 (3), pp. 620 - 642.

More about the research of project B06: External Reform Models and Internal Debates on the New Conceptualisation of Social Policy in the Post-Soviet Region


Contact:
Dr. Gulnaz Isabekova
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57073
E-Mail: gulnaz@uni-bremen.de

Covid-19 cases in Central Asia (Source: Zentralasien-Analysen Nr. 140)
Covid-19 cases in Central Asia (Source: Zentralasien-Analysen Nr. 140)
The CRC project provides regularly updated information on the situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The team around project director Heiko Pleines is compiling and processing extensive data on the development of the Covid-19 pandemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In addition, the dossier provides chronicles at country level on the respective social policy responses to the development of the pandemic. This information is regularly updated and supplemented with analyses by country experts.

The dossier on the Covid-19 pandemic can be found on the pages of the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen. English texts will follow soon.

The analyses of the situation in Russian can also be found on the website of the Federal Agency for Civic Education (in German only).


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-69602
E-Mail: pleines@uni-bremen.de

Covid-19 cases in Ukraine, by region (source: Ukraine-Analysen Nr. 232)
Covid-19 cases in Ukraine, by region (source: Ukraine-Analysen Nr. 232)
In the "Ukraine-Analysen", experts examine how the Ukrainian government is reacting to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Pavlo Illiashenko and Olena Levenets from the Technical University of Tallinn analyse in their article in issue 232 of "Ukraine-Analysen" how the novel corona virus spread in Ukraine and how the government reacted to it. They take into account data up to 18 March 2020.

The authors conclude that the Ukrainian government and the authorities were relatively passive until March 11: Mainly measures were announced, but only partially implemented, which aimed to prevent the entry of the virus from abroad (especially travel warnings, temperature measurements of people entering from Italy). Tests for Covid-19 infections were almost never carried out (only 43 tests until 11 March).

From 11 March onwards, government measures were significantly tightened. Schools and borders were closed, assembly bans were imposed, shops had to close, local states of emergency were declared. Ukraine only continues to lag behind in tests for infections, which have been carried out many times more frequently in neighbouring countries.

The authors conclude that the government of Ukraine was unprepared, at least in the initial phase of the crisis. This is also due to the fact that the government's ability to act was limited by the dismissal of ministers by the president at the beginning of March. After 11 March, however, there was a strict change of course, according to which the government acted much more proactively than its neighbouring states.

A detailed analysis of the Ukrainian response to the Covid-19 pandemic can be found in the current issue 232 of Ukraine Analyses (in German only).


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-69602
E-Mail: pleines@uni-bremen.de