Conflict of Interest in Central and Eastern Europe
An international conference at the Institute of Sociology,
Nicolaus Copernicus University
Toruń, Poland
25 - 27 August 2010

General Information
About Toruń
Terms and Deadlines
Conference Programme
Organizing Committee
Call for Papers
Practical Information
Contact
Conference programme: participants and papers


UPDATED conference programme is available in PDF here.

New session: Politically modified organisms - how interest groups are affecting the GMO-debate in Poland, Germany and the EU.


Participants and papers:
  • A. Jan Kutyłowski, University of Oslo

    Legal institutions and corruption in the Polish post-communist bureaucracy from the viewpoint of civic risk and uncertainty

    Corruption of official institutions creates uncertainty and risks for the citizens, since it favours selected interests and values to the disadvantage of the neglected ones. From the functional point of view institutions tasked with enforcement of the legal rules (such as the police, procuracy or courts) are of particular importance, as they have ultimative powers to undo corrupt acts and thus mitigate conflicts of interest. Corruption of such institutions poses special and extraordinary forms of uncertainty and risks to the citizens and other entities as well as systematically favors certain types of interests against the other. Focus of this paper is to inform and evaluate uncertainties and risks deriving from corruption of “legal institutions”, dealing with upholding the law Poland as a specimen of the European class of post-communist countries. Perceptions by the general public will be presented concerning the degree to which major types of legal institutions: police, prosecutors, courts and prisons are involved in corrupt acts. Sources of the perceptions are elicited for each of the institutions in question, thus providing a general assessment of the efficaciousness of those branches of the government. Some relations will be mentioned linking the perceptions to societal stratification.

    A comparative analysis of such data over a span of almost ten years (1994-2001) casts further light on the developmental tendencies. Comparisons will also be presented on the basis of some relevant data from the “late” communist period of 1980s, supplemented with up-to-date indications The data are derived from national surveys based on representative probabilistic samples: the major source of information will be a national survey on corruption phenomena carried out by the author in 1999-2000. The basic findings are augmented with related, survey-based information concerning perceived degree of the corruptedness of senior state officials, partisanship of the government’s policies and perceived degree of the infiltration of the higher echelons of thestate apparatus by partisans (often former agents) of the (now defunct) communist regime.

    Substantive interpretations of the findings lead to some synthetic conclusions concerning root causes of dysfunctionalities in those branches of the governance, thus outlining basic aspects of the “risk society” in Poland, with implications for the methods that can be employed in cross-national settings for the purpose of diagnosis and assessment of change.

  • Prof. Ken Roberts, University of Liverpool

    Class, Politics and Trust in the South Caucasus

    Cynicism towards politicians and their motives is widespread today in many of the liberal democracies of the west. However, in many of the new democracies of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, levels of cynicism are even higher. This paper presents and discusses the results from surveys in 2009 among representative samples of individuals and households in each of the three South Caucasus countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Levels of trust in all big institutions (state and private) tended to be extremely low. The most trusted institutions in all three countries were religious institutions, the presidents and the armies. In response to a forced choice question, more respondents said that ‘the government should take care of the people, like a parent’ than ‘the people should control the government’. This paper discusses the background to, and some implications of these results.
    Download full paper.

  • Tetiana Kostiuchenko, National University of "Kyiv-Mohyla Academy"

    Central actors and groups in political elite: advantages of network approach
    Download full paper.

  • Aleksandra Lis, Central European University in Budapest, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology

    Polish actors in the EU Climate change and energy package debate: How to render an interest translation robust?

    This study attempts to conceptually grasp conditions for a success in interest representation in the EU. By focusing on a debate on the EU Climate change and energy package (2008) I examine a process within which Polish economic interests were defined and represented. I propose to look at interest representation as a chain of translations of goals and concerns into a language of expertise and values. However, this double translation may fail. Therefore, in this paper I look for conditions that render this translation chain robust. Drawing on new institutional approaches and network analysis I propose a tentative hypothesis that robustness of translation depends on actors’ ability to inscribe an issue of concern into expert debates through an institutional process and remain multivocal during a political process. Multivocality, which is underpinned by actor’s position within a wider network, means that single actions can be interpreted coherently from multiple perspectives   simultaneously. Multivocality of one’s position prevents the actor from being locked-in by others into a role of “particularism” as well as from rendering the actor's predictable and open to critic. Within the EU arena it may grant legitimization of one’s interests by releasing a tension between national interests and the interests of the EU as a global actor.


  • Prof. Flavio Augusto Lira Nascimento, Sao Paulo State University

    Conflicts of interests in post-authoritarian regimes: differences and similarities between Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Latin America (LA)

    Although different in their constitutive forms as to their States, nations and civil societies, the regions of CEE and LA have recently followed a rather similar political path. Both have been free from political authoritarianism for little more than two decades and democracy is still a term to be fully construed. In changing environments, old values are usually at stake and sociopolitical behaviors are commonly directed at keeping whatever parcel of power one can uphold. During authoritarian regimes like the ones that have ruled Cold War CEE and LA, private interests were broadcast as roads towards common goals and were bound to be institutionalized in order to have their legitimacy sustained, such as officially choosing certain partners over others for the so-called collectivity’s greater good. When it comes to how society deals with cases of corruption in their governments, one can identify a vast array whose elements consist of both historical processes and national/international sociopolitical formation. LA countries, largely the offspring of Iberian colonialism, have retained certain aspects of favoritism in public life that are not so commonly seen in contemporary Central Europe. Why is it that conducts such as nepotism, bribes and the like still flourish in LA soil and, albeit slowly, are more effectively fading away in Central Europe? A comparative analysis of both realities will seek to uncover changes and continuities in both post-Cold War scenarios.
    Download full paper.

  • Dr. Arkadiusz Peisert, University of Gdańsk, Akademia Pomorska in Slupsk

    Conflict of interest – case of housing cooperatives in Poland

    From many years one can observe the social conflict between members of the polish housing cooperatives and boards of these cooperatives. This conflict has a structural character and it is linked to the question of property rights flats of members.

    Large sizes of housing cooperatives imply that it is very difficult to build any civil society structures in cooperatives. For this reason, boards – which ought to be statutory responsible to members – are able to rule over the members and manipulate over official meetings of cooperatives. I consider this problem on the structural level (taking aside the motivation of separate cooperative's boards) and look for the reason of the problem. Taking structurally, it is possible to identify a conflict of interest, in which boards of housing cooperatives are involved. On the one hand, boards are obliged to represent and guarantee the best profits, the best results for all the members of cooperatives. On the other hand, they are able to neutralize the member’s control and tend to work like commercial companies. It could be seen also in changing the language of communication directed to members. Boards tend to treat them as they would be simply clients rather than co-owners (members are co-owners of cooperatives). Many of boards try to exclude the institution of cooperatives from its social context.

  • Dr. Georg P. Mueller, Univ. of Fribourg (Switzerland) / Fac. of Economics & Social Science

    Coping with Low-Trust Situations in Eastern and Western Europe: On the Role of Corruption and Justice as Risk-Buffers.

    This paper postulates that citizens of societies with low trust in others generally suffer from a feeling of losing control over their lives. This situation, which is quite common in many Central / Eastern European countries, can however subjectively and objectively be alleviated by appropriate risk-buffers, such as trust in police, law-courts, nepotism, or corruption.
    Download full paper.

    This paper analyzes through a statistical reanalysis of the 1999-survey of the European Values Study (EVS) the success of these formal and informal institutions with regard to their capacity of buffering the lack of trust in others. The mentioned empirical analyses show that in Western Europe citizens mainly rely on efficient law-courts as an insurance against deception by fellow-citizens, whereas in Central / Eastern Europe this psychological function is mainly performed by corruption. Hence in many countries in Central / Eastern Europe there seems to be a vicious circle of deception, corruption, and further deception, which finally destroys the trust in others. To the contrary, in Western Europe deception between citizens is rather efficiently stopped by reliable courts and law enforcement, such that the general trust in others is here much higher.

    Keywords: Trust in others, locus of control, risk-buffers, corruption, law-courts, comparative research, Eastern / Western Europe.

  • Martin Mendelski, Goethe University Frankfurt

    Rule of law reforms in the shadow of clientelism: the limits of the EU’s transformative power in Romania

    Problem (Research questions):
    How and to what extent does the EU matter for the success of judicial reforms in Romania (impact of EU) and under which conditions is the EU able to transform de jure and de facto judicial quality?
    Theoretical approach: The study develops a conceptual framework and several hypotheses based on the insides of the Europeanization literature (Schimmelfennig/Sedelmeier 2005; Vachudova 2005; Risse et al. 2001; Grabbe 2006) which stresses the transformative power of the EU.

    Methodology: An indicator-based*, more differentiated approach is used which traces “relative changes” in two dimensions of judicial quality, namely in de jure (formal, efficiency-related) and de facto (informal power-related) aspects. Drawing on data from official documents, executive and expert surveys**, this study offers an empirical analysis of judicial quality development between 2000 and 2009 across several key dimensions (judicial capacity, independence, impartiality and accountability).

    Results: It is concluded that while the EU (together with the help of domestic change agents) was able to improve de jure judicial quality (e.g. formal legal framework, increased salaries and computerization), it was hardly possible to enhance de facto judicial quality (e.g. judicial impartiality and accountability). The failure to improve de facto judicial quality in Romania is attributed to the inappropriate (short-term, top-down, quantitative) reform approach of the EU, which didn’t function as expected within the clientelistic structures of powerful veto players.

    Key words: Romania, judicial reforms, EU conditionality, clientelism, veto players

    * - Indicators used: number of professional judges, court staff and public prosecutors; annual budget allocated to all courts and prosecution per inhabitant; salaries of judges and prosecutors; direct assistance to the judge; judicial independence indicator; corruption in the legal system/judiciary; judicial accountability indicator; BEEPS judicial quality indicator.

    ** - Sources of indicators: Council of Europe, World Economic Forum's Executive Opinion Survey, Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey (BEEPS), Transparency International, Global integrity index.

  • Marek Kaduczak, Head of Legal Affairs unit at OLAF: European Anti-Fraud Office

    Conflict of interest as a systemic feature of redistributive democracy
    Download full paper.

  • Sylwia Męcfal, University of Łódź, Institute of Sociology

    A local journalist in the network of conflicts of interest

    A man (or an organization) is in a conflict of interest when the actions he/she takes are profitable to himself/herself or another object (an organization which he/she is committed to). At the same time the actions are against another organization's interests towards which he/she should be loyal as well. Local media are supposed to integrate a local community, be a certain agora for the community, for the common citizen. However, those who are most often present in the local media are politicians and businessmen. It is a myth that a local journalist is able to choose whatever story he/she wants to write. The pressures, what to write and how, come from different sides. What is more, a poor labour market and what is bound up with it - the necessity of being loyal to the employer, cause situations where a journalist is entangled in numerous conflicts of interest. Why? Because what is right for the employer, is not always what is right for the local community (i.e. providing reliable information). The problem is that reliable information could cost the journalist his/her job (he/she would be acting against his/her own interest). What strategies do journalists use to deal with these situations? Does their work have elements of apparent actions? In my article I would like to present how this profession is/ could be entangled in a conflict of interest. I think that situations of dual loyalty could be quite common in journalistic work.
    Download full paper.

  • Dr. Kateryna Novikova, Wyższa Szkoła Zarządzania Personelem w Warszawie

    Where does the Social Network Capital End and Informal Corrupting Connections Begin? Post-Soviet Practices in the Internet Era
    Download full paper.

    Though frequently praised for its uncommon opportunities Internet facilitates specific type of social network capital that rests upon the very specific type of network of connections that is particularly vast and exceptionally limited at the same time. People using advanced technologies for networking most often apply its most popular feature. Seemingly anonymous Internet allows searching specific niche information and creating exclusive networks based on common values and interests as well as personalized networks via social media that are even more limited in their social capital development prospects. These issues concern both those exceptional opportunities of “six degrees of separation” proclaimed earlier by digital utopists and problems of trust and corruption risks in the Internet era. What informational enthusiasm about boundless possibilities to connect to everybody one wishes in the post-Soviet space have to do with its everlasting affection for ties, connections and nepotism? Has Internet become another powerful tool to extend the social networking capital as the only way to achieve one’s personal goals (that are frequently part of “conflict of interests”)? Certainly there are different mechanisms and dimensions of how social networking capital functions. For instance, in the economic sphere one can use networking knowledge transmission for innovation and development. But on the other side, the economic actor entangled in the social network of common interests will apply illicit methods and secret information to gain superiority in the branch (that is not that rare given live memories of the recent prevalence of the state monopolies in the post-Soviet countries).

  • Batko-Tołuć Katarzyna, The Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups

    CoI in civic and social programs on the local level

    Field of exploration: conflict of interest connected with distribution of the public financial resources. The situations described and problems posed will be connected with the following situations: -       distribution of funds on the local or regional level; -       distribution of funds for social “non-profit” initiatives (in opposition to the business sector the applicants are usually too weak and inexperienced to effectively use the law to defend their rights. It results in decrease of trust and in preserving clientelism).

    There will be three hypotheses tested during the presentation. - conflict of interest as a result of inability to take and accept the rules connected to different social roles. E.g. when someone who used to work in the NGO sector moves to public administration. There is a lot of new rules to be obeyed such as using procedures in contacts with former partners, fair treatment of all interested parties, resigning from several former positions to avoid unclear situations. -       conflict of interest used deliberately to achieve certain advantages E.g. of monitoring and steering bodies affiliated at the public administration and attended by “non-profit” activists. While they do not decide on the funds’ distribution sometimes they have different possibilities to manipulate situations. -       conflict of interest as a result of lack of human resources E.g.  in small communes where the number of those who are active is limited and many people are relatives to each other.

    The presentation will look for solutions that can be applied in such situations.
    Download full paper.

  • Prof. Olga Brusylovska, Institute of Social Sciences, I.I.Mechnikov Odessa National University

    Groups of interests in political process of modern Ukraine

    The role of groups of interests (GI) is caused by their growing influence on character of mutual relations between a society and the state. In Ukraine disproportions in system of representation of interests today are obvious; prevails non-institutionalized character of their interaction with the state; there are no norms of lobbyist activity precisely fixed in the legislation; there is no modern law on public organizations. It is necessary to analyze a problem of role of GI in political process of modern Ukraine, to reveal the maintenance and specificity of their functioning. Conceptual basis of research are works of representatives of “the network approach” (D.Nouk, J.Kuklinski, D.Marsh, R.Roudz, K.Hej, D.Richards). Modern development of GI in Ukraine depends on both political traditions, and problems of sociopolitical transformation. First, the print was imposed with traditions of GI of the Soviet period that represented system of corporative organized representation. The Ukrainian politics under Brezhnev represented as a matter of fact arena of activity of two clans - Dnepropetrovsk and Donetsk. Therefore, we can see today in Ukraine the struggle of elements of two different models – neo-corporative and pluralistic. Second, weakness of the state, its inability to establish obligatory for all legal norms of behavior and to apply effective sanctions to those who breaks these norms, is the important factor. Third, influence renders instability of social structure of a society, practical absence of so-called \"middle class\", the carrier of sociopolitical stability. Fourth, weak development of a civil society negatively influences. GI in Ukraine can be conditionally divided into associations of businessmen, trade unions and nongovernmental organizations. Activity of groups of businessmen within 20 years became more fluent. Strategy of lobbyism dominates. Their main object is the executive authority, the following on value - legislative. Trade unions are most politically passive part of GI. They have no skills to operate in the free environment. Development of mechanisms of interaction with employers, authorities, and society is only a task of the future. NGО most effectively participate in maintenance of democratic, transparent and fair character of elections of the government and local self-management. Besides they influence development of governmental decisions through the nongovernmental analytical centers, through public councils and the boards that work with the central authorities. However, only the small part formally registered NGO really works (in Odessa its approximately 200 of 1200 organizations that is the norm across Ukraine). Expansion of activity of GI in Ukraine is one of the most valuable phenomena of a modern reality since it displays process of self-organizing of different social groups with their specific interests. However, only the groups connected to elites (political or economic) effectively work.

  • Bartosz Pilitowski, Institute of Sociology, Nicolaus Copernicus University

    Corporate bankruptcy proceedings - a conflict of interest institutionalized

    Bankruptcy proceeding is not about conflicting interests of creditor and insolvent debtor. There's much more about conflict between creditors that compete for their share in debtors assets. On the ground of Polish bankruptcy law this sphere of potential conflict is nevertheless well resolved. Fare more dangerous for interests of individual debtors is another space for conflict. Bankruptcy law in Poland leaves conflicting interest of receiver as a judicial officer and as an individual entrepreneur unsettled. More of them similarly the role of insolvency judge gives him power over the proceeding, but does not guaranties it will be used more for public good than for private leisure. This paper analyses the main conflicting interests of roles designed to serve a public good of bankruptcy proceeding. It uses the results of empirical study: interviews with judges, insolvency practitioners and entrepreneurs and case studies for reconstruction of institutionalized conflict of interest within Polish corporate bankruptcy system.

  • Dr. Piotr Sitniewski, dr Jarosław Ruszewski, Stanisław Staszic College of Public Administration in Białystok

    Declarations of income as a control mechanism to prevent conflicts amoung local government officials at the voivodship level in Poland.

    This article is based on monitoring conducted by author. For many years existing legal regulations required to give declarations of income also at the local government level. Since 2003 informations placed in the declarations are not secret. Everyone has an access to them via internet. The article presents results of the project conducted by author , supported by European Social Fund. One of the main goals of the project was to find an answer to a question – what is the sense of existing this legal obligations, if in practice some of the elements do not exist in a proper way. System of declarations of income are in practice far away from intends of the legislator, and it needs to be reconstructed.
    Download full paper.

  • Dr. Jarosław Ruszewski, Stanisław Staszic College of Public Administration in Białystok

    Anti-corruption Prohibitions and Restrictions Preventing Clash of Interests in Local Governments.

    The purpose of the article is to present biding legal norms and solutions preventing corruption, and in this the clash of interests in governmental administration. Legal regulations preventing and revealing the clash of interests serve also as a protection against corruption. Therefore the justification for their introduction is usually the willingness of legislator to act against corruption. The work focuses on presenting the functioning of anti-corruption regulations, which are addressed to people employed in local governments in Poland, in the context of disclosing the clash of interests and implementing legal regulations in this scope.

  • Prof. Andrzej Zybertowicz, Institute of Sociology, Nicolaus Copernicus University

    A Structural Conflict of Interests as the Foundation of the Post-Communist Poland

    Complex social systems rely on various underpinnings which condition the ways the systems work. The main claim of the presentation is that one trying to capture the dynamics of the post-communist Poland (since 1989 until now) should take into consideration the phenomenon of structural conflict of interests (hereafter – SCI) as one of foundations on which the emerging societal system lies.

    The notion of conflict of interest is understood classically as situation where a conflict arises between public duty and private interest which could influence the performance of official duties; it’s a condition when a public official is involved in a situation of dual loyalty. By the SCI understood is a situation when institutions of strategic import for operation of the societal system are areas exceptionally conflict of interest ridden. Strategic institutions are defined as those organizations which play role of its meta-institutions, i.e. which regulate the running of other social important institutions. Examples of strategic institutions are: the parliament, the judiciary, the state police, intelligence agencies, the prosecutors office, the most influential media, some branches of the Academia.

    Presence of the SCI engenders structural consequences. Among the consequences identified are:
    - important public institutions don’t operate according to their officially declared, formally prescribed rules - instead they are “re-programmed” and often fulfill tasks essentially different from their declared public mission;
    - informal institutions and soft approach to legal regulations spread among public officials as well as rank-and-file citizens;
    - resources of communist and post-communist intelligence agencies are employed to keep important conflicts of interests hidden;
    - the state lacks resources to identify and debate the issues of national interest.

    Since the main source of the SCI is involvement of the old/new state’s elites in unlawful or morally compromising practices of the old regime it seems that standard measures (like transparency of income of holders of high public offices) aiming at keeping at bay situations of conflict of interest are not sufficient when the conflict is of structural nature. Real conquering the SCI demands deep institutional reforms which would undermine interest of powerful organized groups, and therefore are unlikely to be pursued without some sort of political mobilization.

    The role of the SCI in construction of the post-communist society is not properly recognized by the Polish social sciences, partly due to the fact the many influential academics are involved in specific conflicts of interests themselves.

    Examples of conflict of interest of many public figures holding highest positions will be discussed. Negative impact of the SCI on the quality of democracy and performance of economy will be explored.


  • Dr. Joanna Szalacha, Torun School of Banking

    Interlocking directorates and possible conflicts of interest

    Interlocking directorates are specific business practice related to a situation when certain individuals are members of board of directors in several companies at the same time. This phenomena comes from a long tradition and practice arose in American capitalism where (as researchers such as W. Domhoff, T. Dye or M. Useem showed) business expansion is strongly related to personal activity of elite members. Interlocking directorates are also an outcome of growing industrial relations. Companies are building their business relations with many entities in order to function properly and successfully – they cooperate with banks, office suppliers and firms from the same industry branch. The nature of contemporary capitalism makes these companies a part of a very complex environment where many professional relations must be sustained at the same time. But as some researchers point - the interlocking directorates may lead not only to growing industrial interrelations, but also to such collusive behavior as price fixing, market division, oligopoly and other antitrust violations. Personal relations between boards of directors, situation when same individuals work for several firms, is often dangerous for the fair market game.

    The aim of this presentation is to explore the concept of interlocking directorates in a context of possible misuse of power, especially such as conflict of interest. One of a basic concept for this paper is that COI is extremely dangerous for the processes of industrial and market development of CEE countries. Presentation will refer to such issues as threats to free market rules, violation of trust and formation of industrial elite.
    Download full paper.