Implementation in transitional countries: a case study of environmental regulation of the post-Soviet oil industry

Gorianova, Elena (2020) Implementation in transitional countries: a case study of environmental regulation of the post-Soviet oil industry. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Download (6MB)


The puzzle that concerns this research project is that of why even prioritised government policies are not necessarily implemented, either at all or within their allocated time frame. The combined contexts of firstly political and economic transition, and secondly a clash of two distinct policies – economic and environmental – can make it easier to answer this question. The last few decades have seen a growing international drive to reduce the negative environmental impact of economic activity. Government regulations play a pivotal role in this trend, but while their clarity, scope and suitability have been improving across the globe, they often fail to achieve desired outcomes. This is especially true in transitional countries. In the post-Soviet states, industrial development can have significant global consequences, but implementation of environmental protection has often been significantly slower than in more developed countries despite the strong official rhetoric about their importance.

Governments face significant barriers to implementation. To uncover what they are and why they persist, this project draws together interview data from 77 interviews (see Appendix A) from four oil-extracting regions across the post-Soviet space. They are the Nenets Autonomous Okrug in the Russian Arctic; the Republic of Tatarstan in southern Russia; Atyrau, the oil capital of Kazakhstan; and Baku, the capital city and key oilextracting region of Azerbaijan. Implementation gaps and their causes in each region are contrasted to establish the degree of explanatory power of variables derived from inter-regional differences and from prominent literature on public administration and other disciplines relevant to environmental policy and oil.

The first variable investigated is foreign influence, seen as direct and indirect impact of foreign and international NGOs, oil firms and developmental and financial institutions and organisations. The second is state capacity, seen as the quality of domestic regulation and the capacity of executive government structures to enforce it. The last variable explored is that of economic conditions, which takes into account economic sectors and their contribution to government budgets.

The analysis shows that while all variables can have an impact on implementation gaps, they can do so in unexpected ways. Furthermore, although all variables prove to be important for successful implementation, they do not ensure it, working either together or individually. For example, foreign actors can introduce post-Soviet countries to better practices and technologies through norm diffusion, but their equivocal behaviour means that the new norms are not necessarily internalised. Similarly, the quality of regulation and state capacity for enforcement can drive implementation only so far without the political will to channel them appropriately. The variable of economic conditions is the only one that shows a consistent link with the dependent variable, although it cannot explain implementation gaps in all contexts. Comparative analysis does, however, reveal some clear catalysts: implementation appears least successful in contexts of low political stability, with associated levels of corruption, while polluters’ conceptualisation of environmental spending as an investment rather than a cost can help drive implementation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: policy implementation, environmental policy, transitional states, post-Soviet countries, implementation gaps, norm diffusion, state capacity, economic dependence
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic history and conditions > HC0079 Special topics, A-Z > HC0079.E5 Environmental policy and economic development. Sustainable development Including environmental economics
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN6500 Soviet Union. Russia. Former Soviet Republics
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2020 13:15
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2021 07:40

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update