Streamlining Informal Institutions for Local Strategic Planning and Development in a Post-Socialist Central-European Setting

Tomáš Sýkora, Pavel Raška, Jaroslav Koutský


Informal institutions are increasingly emphasized by local development thinkers as preconditions and factors supporting local development. In post-socialist European countries (PSECs), the need to strengthen informal institutions has been postulated as imperative by some researchers, critically addressing previous decades of rather infrastructural development. In this paper, we argue that, in contrast to this discourse, the operationalization of informal institutions for their use in strategic planning and local development remains unclear. This results in inconsistencies and conflicting natures between the planning process itself and its goals. Based on a review of the literature on the role of informal institutions in local strategic planning and development, we identify the two main shortcomings in the use of the concept. First, we point out the lack of their operationalization, which is underpinned by a poor understanding of the different levels of abstraction inherent to informal institutions. Second, we assert that neglecting such different levels of abstraction often leads to a lack of consensus on appropriate ex-ante and ex-post evaluations of strategic planning out[1]comes. To reduce the formalism while referring to informal institutions in existing local strategies, we propose a new conceptual approach that allows for their operationalization. The applicability of the proposed concept is discussed specifically in the realm of post-socialist European planning.


informal institutions; local development; strategic planning; post-socialist planning; Central Europe.

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