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Rationalising or Empowering Bureaucrats? Tax Administration Reform in Post-Communist Poland and Russia

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-155
JournalJournal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics
Issue number1
PublishedMar 2008

King's Authors


Polish efforts at administrative reform within the tax service have focused on rationalizing the function and duties of tax officials in a Weberian sense. In contrast, Russia's tax bureaucracies lean towards securing their own ‘power’ over society through their tax collection mechanisms. Polish reforms have sought to rationalize the tax bureaucracy by focusing on institutional design as well as by reducing the ability of bureaucrats to function with undue discretion. Meanwhile, in Russia, the implementation of reforms designed to make the tax administration more ‘rational’ in a Weberian sense often fails to shift the course of the state's goal to seek power for itself, especially at the expense of society at large. Comparison of the experiences of these two countries suggests that ‘empowering’ bureaucrats so that the state will be ‘strengthened’ vis-à-vis society may not provide for as successful an implementation of state policy in the long run as an approach based upon ‘rationalizing’ the state.

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