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Are post-Soviet republics ready for the new public management? The case of educational modernization in Kazakhstan

Agipa Monobayeva (Ryskulov Kazakh Economic University, Almaty, Kazakhstan)
Cosmo Howard (School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




Since the collapse of the USSR, former Soviet republics have embarked on public service modernization, in most instances drawing on internationally dominant new public management (NPM) principles. Are post-Soviet republics ready for these administrative prescriptions? The paper aims to discuss these issues.


This paper discusses Kazakhstan’s experience with the implementation of NPM through a qualitative case study of the country’s adoption of the European Bologna higher education reforms.


While implementation of the NPM-inspired Bologna program has produced significant achievements, there are also gaps and shortcomings. These are due to a remnant Soviet administrative practices including strong control by educational ministries, as well as incompatible organizational cultures and a tendency toward superficial formalism in the implementation process.

Research limitations/implications

NPM tends to be introduced in a top-down fashion as a taken-for-granted component of state transformation, without sufficient attention to the capacities, cultures and systems required for effective and accountable performance-driven administrative reform.


Kazakhstan’s experience provides crucial insights into the governance structures, professional cultures and managerial capacities required for successful implementation of NPM in post-Soviet states.



Monobayeva, A. and Howard, C. (2015), "Are post-Soviet republics ready for the new public management? The case of educational modernization in Kazakhstan", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 150-164.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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