The Politics of Small Steps: Influence Strategies of Social Sector NGOs in Russia
In many Russian regions, new institutions have been created that are meant to enable the partnership between the legislative, the regional administration and civil society actors. These forms of institutionalized cooperation include permanent roundtables, consultative councils, regional or local grant competitions for social projects and the institutionalized cooperation in externally funded social projects. In addressing social problems, nonprofit organizations have often played a pioneer role and are today more and more accepted as partners of the state, while at the same time facing multiple barriers in terms of their institutional context, organizational development and participation in policy formation. Although regional and local administrations and civil society actors share many concerns about social policy issues, the level of real involvement of NGOs in policy formation in present-day Russia is often described as ineffective and insufficient. The underlying motivation of this paper is to identify the forms and degree of cooperation between governmental and non-governmental actors in addressing social problems and the participation of non-profit actors in shaping policy formation in Russia’s regions. The focus is on the sub-national level, as regional authorities bear the main responsibility for financing and implementing welfare policies. The paper thereby addresses the following question: What are the incentives, barriers and outcomes of nonprofit participation in service delivery and policy formation?