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Franklin L. Burdette Pi Sigma Alpha Award ($500).

For the best paper presented at the 1999 Annual Meeting.

Award Committee: Gary King, Harvard University, chair; and Evelyne Huber, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Recipient: Herbert Kitschelt, Duke University

Paper: "Accounting for Outcomes of Post-Communist Regime Change: Causal Depth or Shallowness in Rival Explanations"

Citation: The award goes to Herbert Kitschelt for his paper "Accounting for Outcomes of Post-Communist Regime Change: Causal Depth or Shallowness in Rival Explanations."

This paper's main contribution lies in providing a compelling critique of rapidly proliferating explanations of regime diversity of post-communist countries, based on a conceptualization of excessively "deep" and "shallow" explanations, and in developing instead a theoretical explanation that links the hypothesized causes to the outcome through identifiable mechanisms and maintains a clear analytical separation between the causes and the outcomes. Explanations that seek the roots of post-communist regime forms in religious traditions, zones of administrative control in the early part of the 20th century, or geo-strategic considerations in the late 20th century, fail to link these factors to the process of regime formation in the post-communist world. In contrast, explanations that identify the bargaining strength of the bureaucracy versus newly emerging parties, or the composition of elites, or the authoritarian intentions of executives in 1990 and thereafter as the causes of regime outcomes, produce statist ical results with a high degree of variation explained, but at the cost of using as independent variables factors that are part of the very phenomenon that needs to be understood, the emergence of the autonomous political articulation of social forces versus the continuing strength of authoritarian elites. The nature of the bureaucracy under communist rule - professional versus patrimonial - which in turn had its roots in the nature of the bureaucracy in pre-communist times, interacted with the strength of the emerging civil society, which again had its roots in the vibrancy of civic and political associations before the communist takeover, to create the conditions for democratic governance and the enforcement of civil and political rights.

Professionalized bureaucrats were less inclined to subvert both economic reform and political transparency and accountability by appropriating state resources, and the constellation of strong opposition parties facing a collapsed or accommodative former communist party was favorable for the establishment of democratic procedures. The empirical test of these various explanations is based on simple correlations and clearly needs to be developed further. However, the paper is an excellent example of one of the two kinds of papers usually presented at the APSA meetings, and highly representative of the one kind that was nominated this year, namely works in progress, as opposed to polished papers ready to go to print. This paper provides a lucid evaluation of competing explanations and charts new theoretical paths in an important emerging area of comparative politics.

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Publication:PS: Political Science & Politics
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Dec 1, 2000
Words:460
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