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Explaining the divergent levels of autonomy and control of Lithuanian public sector organizations

Žilvinas Martinaitis
Vilnius University
Žilvinas Martinaitis
Vilnius University
Vitalis Nakrošis
Vilnius University
Open Panel

Abstract

Previous research found that there is considerable variation in the levels of autonomy and control of Lithuanian public sector organizations (Nakrošis, Martinaitis 2009). This paper seeks to explain, what factors account for the observed differences. Lithuania provides an interesting laboratory for a comparative analysis: the absence of a clear formal and normative “agency model”, the challenges of transition and the EU accession process has lead to a proliferation of organisations and diversity of their types, governance structures and levels of autonomy and control. The paper is based on the theoretical framework proposed by Verhoest et al. (2010). In line with the structural-instrumental perspective, the first hypothesis argues that the level of autonomy and control depends on the formal status of the organization. The second hypothesis is based on cultural-institutional perspective and argues that smaller agencies should be more autonomous than larger agencies due to homogeneity of culture in the smaller organizations. From a task-specific perspective, the third hypothesis argues that the level of autonomy and control should depend on the tasks of the organization. Regulatory agencies should enjoy high autonomy; agencies that seek to provide services should have high autonomy and high results-based control; funding agencies should have low autonomy and high levels of control. Lastly, from an environmental perspective it is hypothesized that the agencies, which were set-up as a result of the pressure from the EU, should have higher levels of autonomy and control. Two main methods are used to test the hypotheses. First, the data from the COBRA survey, which was carried out in 2008 in Lithuania, is used to quantitatively assess the hypotheses. Second, the qualitative tests use the results of four case studies. They focused on four types of agencies (regulatory, service providers, public security and funding agencies) and were carried out in 2010 and 2011.