Detailed project schedule and methodology
Work package 1: State of the art report and preparations [months 1-12]
At this first stage, the existing literature on the emergence and reform of institutions will be critically reviewed. This part of the project provides the theoretical and conceptual foundation for the subsequent phases of the project. Furthermore, it will offer a comparative analysis and synthesis of the literature on institutional development and the political economy of transition. In this context, it is also vital to assess the distinct character of an analysis of Central Asian transition economies, thereby placing particular emphasis on the geopolitical importance of the region as a large-scale supplier of energy recourses. Finally, the analysis will account for different economic and political theories on institutions and institutional change and address institutional aspects of capitalist development and change in transition economies. In particular, the VoC approach will be conceptually and theoretically linked to distinct strands of the NIE and the NPE.
Work package 2: Country-case studies [months 13-24]
This phase starts with a stocktaking of the recent economic, social, and political developments in Central Asia in general and in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in particular. Subsequently, a workshop will be organised in which local partners will be made familiar with the questions, objectives, hypotheses, and research methods of the project; in addition, local partners are asked to suggest modifications against the background of their country-specific knowledge. Moreover, a thorough analysis of the country-specific institutional settings will be conducted. For these steps, primary sources, empirical studies, national statistics, and publications of academics as well as international organisations need to be analysed and evaluated.
Due to the theoretical approach of this project as well as due to its academic and policy-oriented lead questions, qualitative research methods appear to be more relevant and useful than quantitative approaches. In this context, field work jointly with local partners will be required in order to collect and analyse information. Semi-structured paper-and-pencil interviews will be conducted. With respect to specific questions, interviews may also include a quantitative part in which answers relating to objective observations and subjective assessments can be given according to a pre-defined scale. The local experts to be interviewed include representatives from the business sector (firms and business associations), trade unions, the public administration, policymaking entities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
At the end of phase 2, an encompassing picture of institutional development and its impact on socio-economic development in each country will have emerged. This provides the basis for the comparative institutional analysis and synthesis in phase 3 of the project.
Work package 3: Concluding conference, final report, and publications [months 25-36]
The concluding phase of the project is designed to synthesize the research output of the second stage and to evaluate it within a modified VoC framework in order to paint a comprehensive comparative picture of the two countries and to systematically relate it to transition experiences in other regions. The results shall be presented at various seminars in each country and eventually prepared for a final concluding conference. At all seminars and conferences, findings will be discussed by project team members, local counterparts, additional local stakeholders as well as international experts. In addition, the research output will be disseminated in adequate publications, including papers in international refereed journals and an edited book comprising country studies. Also, possibly in collaboration with policy-oriented research organizations, policy papers and policy briefs will make sure that the research output also reaches decision-makers.