Changing Land Governance in Quadruple Transition: Cases from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo

Parramore, S. 4-Sep-2017 281 p.

Research output: ScientificDoctoral Thesis

Why and how do societies change institutions governing access to land after experiencing collectivism and conflict, and what form of economic governance emerges as a result? This thesis explores this in the context of problems with accessing land and efforts to drive liberal state building and Europeanization in post-conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. Drawing on empirical findings from semi-structured elite interviews and primary documentation, and using process tracing, it compares six case studies of institutional change and reform in land registration, use and alienation governance. Explaining what drives processes of change in land governance; who engages in them and how these occur in complex transitions; and what the outcomes suggest for the form of economic governance is the subject of analysis.

The thesis contributes in two ways to knowledge, in particular to the state building and Europeanization literature on economic governance in post-conflict and post-communist contexts. Firstly, it shows how applying Ostrom’s rational choice institutionalist perspective and analytical framework enables discovery of what rules are central to problems of unregulated land access in post-conflict Bosnia and Kosovo. The framework acts as platform for testing three context- specific theories of change in land governance and enables observation of how different actors at multiple levels can learn and choose to adapt specific rules that structurally shape situations of regulating and accessing land. It also allows the thesis to gauge the connections between the observed processes of change taking place in societies where, after conflict, the state, society and economy were in flux, and liberal state-builders remained embedded in positions to influence land governance alongside informal networks and domestic governing elites.

Secondly, the empirical evidence allows the thesis to build on earlier findings that contest that external standards and actors, are principal drivers of institutional change in economic governance. Simultaneously, it challenges overemphasis on limits of (externally-driven) change in economic governance. The longitudinal cases show that what drives change is domestic leaders recognising the economic problems of unregulated access. Liberal state-builders supported change in land governance, yet in Bosnia this appeared to inadvertently help consolidate, rather than undermine forms of economic governance that structurally undermine access to economic opportunities. However, the cases from Kosovo suggest that where fragility in land governance persists over the course of transition, governing elites remain prone to continue adapting, reforming and opening access to land rents. Liberal state builders may help lock-in such processes if they can provide support over the long-term, and adapt their solutions to the interests of local governing elites. By showing how interactions between domestic and external actors over a long period of time shape outcomes through processes of unintentional change and intended reform in land governance, the thesis adds input to debates between new institutionalists highlighting path dependent structures as inhibiting factors in liberalizing economic governance, and those stressing external incentives and agency.
Original languageEnglish
  • Fagan, Adam, Supervisor, External person
  • Copeland, Paul, Co-supervisor, External person
StateSubmitted - 4-Sep-2017


  • Land governance, institutional change, political economy, property rights, post-communist transition, post-conflict state-building, Europeanization

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