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Title: Europeanisation of Polish regions : impact of the European Union's structural funds on sub-national institutions and regional development policy practice
Author: Dabrowski, Marcin Marek
ISNI:       0000 0004 2713 7250
Awarding Body: University of the West of Scotland
Current Institution: University of the West of Scotland
Date of Award: 2010
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The thesis investigates the impact of implementation of the Structural Funds (SF), EU cohesion policy’s main financial instrument, on the patterns of governance, policy-making styles and practices of sub-national actors involved in the delivery of regional development policy in Poland. In fact, the SF not only offer unprecedented opportunities for funding developmental projects, but also constitute a powerful driver for institutional and policy change, as they impose a set of norms and principles regarding, for instance, involvement of stakeholders in decision-making, multi-level cooperation or multi-annual strategic planning. The study draws on the concept of Europeanisation, understood as a process of diffusion and institutionalisation of EU policy rules and practices within the member states’ domestic policy arenas. The thesis adds to the literature by examining the patterns of influence of the SF on the Polish regional actors and also by shedding new light on the mechanisms of post-accession Europeanisation. In particular, it looks into the policy actors’ strategies, perceptions and attitudes in order to assess whether adoption and diffusion of EU-imported norms and practices is driven by rational choice or sociological mechanisms. Moreover, the study emphasises the impact of EU cohesion policy’s partnership principle requiring close cooperation between the different levels of government and inclusion of regional stakeholders in administration of the SF. By doing so the study adds to the scholarly debate on the ‘New Regionalism’ and the issue of transferability of policy measures aimed at nurturing cooperation between regional actors to Central and Eastern European member states of the EU characterised by a lack of traditions of cooperative policy-making. The research provides evidence of a significant impact of the SF in three key areas: changes in organisational practices improving administrative capacity; diffusion of a strategic approach to regional and local development based on multi-annual planning; and diffusion of new forms of cooperation between the regional actors based on multilevel and inclusive governance as a result of introduction of EU cohesion policy’s partnership principle. Furthermore, the study reveals that rationalist and sociological mechanisms of Europeanisation can be intertwined. Adoption of the SF-related norms initially tends to be stimulated by cost/benefit calculation or constraint, thus by rationalist mechanisms, which may involve ‘shallow’ Europeanisation. However, over time, provided that the EU-imported norms are in line with the actors’ preferences, sociological mechanisms of Europeanisation become more prominent thanks to processes of social learning and horizontal diffusion of what is considered by the actors as ‘good practice.’ Finally, the study reveals that the impact of EU cohesion policy on the Polish regional policy actors is limited by a set of factors, which are mainly linked with the Polish political and administrative traditions. These include high turnover of staff in administration, clientelism and politicisation of regional institutions involved in distribution of the SF as well as the differentiated capacity of local authorities to participate in SF programmes, which may limit their exposure to the EU-imported norms and practices
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available