Center of Excellence in Finance
Learning and Regional Cooperation in South East Europe

Two CEF Program Managers Personally Showcase the Importance of Investing in Knowledge

Aug 28, 2013


We are extremely proud to announce that two of our staff members, Robert Bauchmüller and Urška Zrinski, recently earned their PhDs.

In June 2013, Robert successfully completed his dissertation at the Graduate School of Governance of Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

Before working for the CEF, he attended a post-graduate program in Public Policy and Policy Analysis, which started with an extensive course requirement. He received additional training at summer schools and during research visits at academic institutions across Europe, and presented his research at several international conferences and seminars. Robert built his dissertation on earlier graduate studies in economics, in which he put special attention to subjects of human resources, labour markets and the society, and which he concluded with research on educational policies in developing countries.
Robert's PhD research aims at informing policymakers about ways to invest in early childhood care and education. It adds important evidence on a number of quality characteristics to stimulate child development that they may directly influence (e.g. type of care; applied educational approached; staff-per-child; staff turnover; share of trained, male, and ethnic minority staff). Policymakers have increasingly acknowledged early childhood investments as instruments to stimulate social mobility of children who are at risk of falling behind at school. Results of three studies on unique Dutch and Danish survey and administrative datasets indicate that better quality may well lead to positive short- and long-term outcomes. However, the new evidence is not sufficient to empirically justify the high hopes put in childcare investments and their social mobilization potential. So we cannot yet be certain that public resources are being effectively spent.
Robert’s dissertation can be accessed here.
In  July 2013, Urška successfully completed her thesis at the Faculty of Social Science, University of Ljubljana.

Urška’s research focused on international development cooperation, aid modalities, and quality and use of public financial management system. The main objective of her PhD thesis on “Development effectiveness and public financial management systems: Cases of Moldova and the Kyrgyz Republic” was to analyze the relationship between the quality of public financial management (PFM) systems and the use of PFM systems in the provision of budget support. This relationship is also enshrined in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005) which introduced five principles to enhance the effectiveness of development cooperation. To assess the credibility of PFM systems the research uses an adaption of the PEFA methodology with a model that transforms 65 out of the original 73 PEFA dimensions into six phases of the budget cycle: strategic budgeting; budget preparation; resource management; internal controls, internal audit, and monitoring; accounting and reporting; and external audit and accountability.

The thesis uses a qualitative case study method to analyze the relationship. Two units have been analyzed in the period from 2005 to 2010 which is in line with the timeline to measure international efforts to achieve the Paris Declaration commitments – the Republic of Moldova and the Kyrgyz Republic. The research highlights the potentially positive impact of budget support on PFM systems in selected countries. Besides the direct transfer of funds, which are not earmarked and therefore almost impossibly to monitor, budget support also included also other inputs. Donors used complementary programs of technical assistance and capacity development programs to budget support. Credibility of the PFM system was also one of the budget support eligibility criteria that forced the country to enhance its system and accelerated reform processes in this area.

Congratulations to Robert and Urška!

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