Kazakhstan: Modernizing government in the context of political inertia

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36 Citations (Scopus)


Kazakhstan declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and joined the Commonwealth of Independent States. Since then it has witnessed a remarkable economic transformation under the leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Pursuing a policy of 'economy first and then politics', Kazakhstan is under growing pressure to engage in political reforms which include a modernization agenda to improve public service provision. Recent constitutional reforms have received a lukewarm reaction from the international community that Kazakhstan is keen to become part of. At the same time a progressive agenda of public services reform is well under way rooted in new public management and a desire to become much more customer focussed in their orientation. This article examines the parallel themes of political reforms and public services modernization in Kazakhstan. Points for practitioners: This article offers two key points for practitioners. First, it describes the detail of public sector reforms taking place in a developing country which secured its independence approximately 16 years ago, and the significant progress since then. Second, it poses questions about the political context in which administrative reform can take place. Has the existence of a highly centralized and autocratic form of presidential leadership resulted in a top-down imperative which has helped the pace of public services modernization in Kazakhstan?

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-496
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Review of Administrative Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Developing countries
  • Governance
  • Kazakhstan
  • Modernizing
  • Performance measurement
  • Public management reform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration

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