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Regular version of the site

Article

Analytical Communities in the Local Policy Process: Creating Self-identity

International Journal of Business and Social Science. 2012. Vol. 3. No. 5. P. 208-221.

In this paper the author argues that we can identify three types of intellectual communities that participate actively in the policy process: analytical communities, experts’ communities and communities of consultants. The distinguishing features of these communities are both an analytical tool and a manifestation of their different identities. These policy actors are distinguished from each other by several criteria: the focus of their political activity (policy analysis, expert reports / remarks or political advise / PR); referent groups (academic, professional or business communities); principles of interaction with decision makers (self-autonomy, contract, clientelism); ethical principles, civic values and attitudes. According to the author’s empirical research of analytical centers and communities in Moscow1 and Russian regions (Karelia, Tatarstan and Saratov region)2 we can make the conclusion that the identity of analytical communities can take three forms: analytical structures (think tanks, public policy centers etc.); “analytical spaces” (recurrent seminars, club meetings, forums etc.), informal intellectual groups. The empirical research that was conducted by the author and the Committee on Public Policy and Governance of the Russian Association for Political Science allows us to point out several factors that influence the identity of analytical communities and their capacity to be autonomous and powerful policy actors and to put these factors into hierarchical order according to their importance for development of analytical communities. The first group of factors is infrastructure for analytical communities; actors with strategic vision i.e. leaders that have organizational, communicational, project work capitals and skills in analytical communities; Human recourses and its mobility (“revolving door system”, academic and scientific traditions, quantity and quality of intellectuals and researchers, etc.). These three factors are vital and the most important for the emergence of analytical community’s identity. Another group of factors: the level of political competition and pluralism (political actors, their goals, diversity of strategies, the strength of political opposition etc.); institutionalization level of the political processes (efficiency of democratic institution and decision making procedures etc.); the capacity of analytical communities to build coalitions with other political actors and social groups (with interest groups, business associations, political parties, civil society organizations, local authorities). These three factors are vital and the most important for the development of analytical communities as influential and autonomous political actors. For Eastern European countries, where political competition and pluralism are not widespread and civil society institutions are week, the capacity of analytical communities to build coalitions with other political actors and social groups is the most promising strategy for democratic development. Additional factor to this group is inclusiveness and transparency of policy process. It correlates with capacity to build coalitions factor. Legal prerequisites (liberal NGO regulation etc.) and philanthropy recourses (from the development of philanthropic culture to the amount of philanthropists) are the cultural factors which depend on long-term features of the civilization or a group of states with similar historical paths. According to the theory of political science and policy practice, in political process we can identify two types of political activities. Activities of the first type are connected with state strategy and program implementation, decision making practices, political management, and problem-solving. The second type of activities are related to the analysis of challenges which decision makers face, with developing programs and strategies of addressing social, economic and political issues. The first type of activities or functions are delegated to politicians (decision makers, political elites etc.) the second ones are related to the work of the intellectuals (analysts, experts, consultants etc.). The demand for the intellectual support of policy implementation is high and even growing in modern diverse and dynamic societies. We can say that this function in contemporary political systems is carried out by intellectual communities.