WiP: NGOs in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes, October 23 – Mariella Falkenhain

American Councils and CRRC-Georgia present the 8th talk in the Fall 2013 Works-in-Progress Series!

Mariella Falkenhain, Hertie School of Governance

“Institutions as Straightjackets? Revisiting the Role of NGOs in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes”
Wednesday, 23 October, 2013 at 6:15pm

ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, GEORGIA

Scholars have long assumed that institutions in authoritarian regimes regularly function as effective regime stabilizers as long as power holders correctly evaluate threats and power. Institutions have mainly been conceived as self-enforcing structures that only change at critical junctures and as a result of external shocks. These assumptions have important implications for theorizing on the role of NGOs under authoritarian rule. NGOs are most notably seen as caught in institutional straightjackets; their actual preferences, activities and contributions are regularly left unexplored. Taking this research gap as a starting point, this talk will present a theoretical framework that focuses on incremental institutional change, and takes agency within institutions seriously. Preliminary empirical results from two case studies – the criminal justice sector and policies on ageing in competitive authoritarian Georgia – will be presented and discussed.

Mariella Falkenhain is PhD candidate in Political Science at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and holder of a doctoral scholarship by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Before joining the Hertie School, she worked as a Research Associate at the Institut für Europäische Politik, a Berlin-based European policy research centre.


W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

Would you like to present at one of the W-i-P sessions? Send an e-mail to natia@crrccenters.org.