International Assistance Programmes and the Reform of Vocational Education in the Western Balkans: Sources of Policy Failure

in Southeastern Europe
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


Over the last twenty years, numerous international assistance programmes have aimed to provide support for reconstruction and assist the policy reform process in the Western Balkans. In this context, concerns have arisen that poor government policies and inadequate donor coordination have reduced the effectiveness of such assistance. The paper discusses the sources of policy success and policy failure of such international assistance programmes within a principal-agent framework that models the influence of misaligned objectives, differing incentive structures, asymmetric information and moral hazard facing the different actors in the institutional structure of assistance programmes. In this political economy approach the varying influences on multiple principals and agents are key determinants of the effectiveness of policy. The paper takes a sectoral view in examining assistance programmes in the vocational education sector, where large donor effort has been applied in the Western Balkans over the last decade to modernise and reform the education system. The specific focus is on secondary vocational education in Serbia. The paper identifies causes of policy failure in EU pre-accession assistance in this key policy area.

International Assistance Programmes and the Reform of Vocational Education in the Western Balkans: Sources of Policy Failure

in Southeastern Europe



AnastasakisO. 2008. “ The EU’s political conditionality in the Western Balkans: towards a more pragmatic approachSoutheast European and Black Sea Studies 8/4: 36577.

ArandarenkoM. and BartlettW. (eds.). 2012. Labour Market and Skills in the Western Balkans (Belgrade and London: FREN and LSEE).

AraralE. 2009. “ The strategic games that donors and bureaucrats play: an institutional rational choice analysisJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory 19/4: 853871.

BartlettW. 2007. “ Economic restructuring, job creation and the changing demand for skills in the Western Balkans” in FetsiA. (ed.) Labour Markets in the Western Balkans: Challenges for the Future (Turin: European Training Foundation): 1950.

BartlettW. 2006. “ International aid, policy transfer and local economic development in North Montenegro” in DallagoB. (ed.) Transformation and European Integration: the Local Dimension (London: Palgrave): 142157.

BartlettW. and MonastiriotisV. (eds.). 2011. South East Europe After the Crisis: a New Dawn or Back to Business as Usual? (London: LSEE).

BartlettW. and UvalićM. (eds.). 2013. The Social Consequence of the Global Economic Crisis in South East Europe (London: LSEE).

CalmetteM. F. and KilkennyM.. 2001. “ International charity under asymmetric informationEconomics Letters 74/1: 107111.

CocozzaE.ColabellaA. and SpadaforaF.. 2011. The impact of the global crisis on South-Eastern Europe (Washington DC: The International Monetary Fund IMF Working Paper WP/11/300).

DeetsS. 2006. “ Public policy in the passive-aggressive state: Health care reform in Bosnia-Hercegovina 1995-2001Europe-Asia Studies 58/1: 5780.

DimitrovaA. 2002. “ Enlargement, institution-building and the EU’s administrative capacity requirementWest European Politics 25/4: 17190.

EasterlyW. 2006. The White Man’s Burden: why the West’s efforts to aid the rest have done so much ill and so little good (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

EC. 2011. Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and Council on the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA II). 2011/0404(COD).

EriksenS. 2007. “ Institution building in Central and Eastern Europe: Foreign influences and domestic responsesReview of Central and Eastern European Law 32/3 33369.

GoRS. 2011. First National Report on Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction in the Republic of Serbia (Belgrade: Government of the Republic of Serbia).

GrabbeH. 2001. “ How does Europeanization affect CEE governance? Conditionality, diffusion and diversityJournal of European Public Policy 8/6: 101331.

EnterpriseLSE. 2012. Mapping of VET Educational Policies and Practices for Social Inclusion and Social Cohesion in the Western Balkans (London: London School of Economics).

MaksimovićI. and BratićG.. 2013. Country Report: Serbia (report prepared for a project on mapping VET educational policies and practices for social inclusion and social cohesion in the Western Balkans Turkey and Israel) (Turin: European Training Foundation).

MartensB. (ed.). 2002. The Institutional Economics of Foreign Aid (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

MES. 2004. Concept of Vocational Education and Training in Serbia (Belgrade: Ministry of Education and Sport).

MillsA. 2010. “Reforming the Serbian Public Employment Service to Improve Service Delivery to Disadvantaged Youthmimeo (Belgrade: MDG-F Youth Employment and Migration Programme in Serbia).

MonkamN. F. 2012. “ International donor agencies’ incentive structures and foreign aid effectivenessJournal of Institutional Economics 8/3: 399427.

MurrellP. 2002. “ The interactions of donors, contractors, and recipients in implementing aid for institutional reform” in MartensB. (ed.) The Institutional Economics of Foreign Aid (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press): 69111.

NoutchevaG. 2009. “ Fake, partial and imposed compliance: the limits of the EU’s normative power in the Western BalkansJournal of European Public Policy 16(7): 106584.

Radišić J. J. Raković N. Pantić J. Marković A. Maksimović and M. Marković. (n.d.). “Teachers as proponents and opponents of education reforms: the case of Serbia” mimeo (Belgrade: institute for Educational Research).

SanfeyP. 2011. “ South-eastern Europe: lessons learned from the global economic crisis in 2008-10Southeast European and Black Sea Studies 11/2: 97115.

SanfeyS. and ZehS.. 2012. Making sense of competitiveness indicators in South-eastern Europe (London: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Working Paper No. 145).

SchimmelfennigF. and SedelmeierU.. 2004. “ Governance by conditionality: EU rule transfer to the candidate countries of Central and Eastern EuropeJournal of European Public Policy 11/4: 66179.

SORS. 2012. Labour Force Survey 2012 (Belgrade: Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia. Bulletin 564).

SteunenbergB. and DimitrovaA.. 2007. “ Compliance with the EU enlargement process: the limits of conditionalityEuropean Integration Online Papers 11/5: 122.

SvenssonJ. 2000. “ Foreign aid and rent-seekingJournal of International Economics 51/2: 437461.


Murrell (2002) has made a similar application of the principal-agent model to the case of the TACIS assistance programme in Russia.

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 4 4 2
Full Text Views 2 2 2
PDF Downloads 0 0 0
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0