‘We Are Not Just Asking What Poland Can Do for the Polish Diaspora but Mainly What the Polish Diaspora Can Do for Poland’: The Influence of New Public Management on the Polish Diaspora Policy in the Years 2011–2015

  • Published in:
    Central and Eastern European Migration Review, Vol. 0, No. 0, 2022, pp. 1-16
    DOI: 10.54667/ceemr.2022.04

    3 March 2022


    7 June 2022


    17 June 2022

    Views: 225

This article describes and analyses Polish diaspora policy changes in the years 2011–2015. Two decades after the rebirth of the Polonia policy in 1989, it was completely rebuilt. Emphasising values and Poland’s obligations towards the diaspora was replaced by paying more attention to the interests and profitability of this policy. The authors demonstrate how New Public Management (NPM) concepts influenced this shift. Analysis of two different sources – documents programming Polish diaspora policy and interviews with experts and persons designing the Polonia policy – confirmed that NPM principles influenced Polish diaspora policy on five dimensions: organisational restructuring, management instruments, budgetary reforms, participation, marketisation/privatisation.

Keywords: diaspora, diaspora policy, New Public Management, diaspora engagement, public administration


Although, for many years, migration research has focused more on immigration policies than on policies regulating emigration and relations with emigrants (Gamlen, Cummings and Vaaler 2019), more recently, states have shown a growing interest in maintaining contacts with their diasporas. Traditionally the term ‘diaspora’ has been used in the context of communities – such as Jews and Armenians – that experienced expulsion and the loss of a homeland. Nowadays, its scope is broader and includes non-traditional emigrant groups. The standard and perhaps most important feature that defines the modern notion of diaspora is maintaining a psychological or material relationship with the homeland (Cohen 2008; Reis 2004).

Many perceive diasporas simply as national assets. While, quite interestingly, this has traditionally been true for countries of the Global South like India or Mexico (Malone 2020; Tigau, Pande and Yuan 2017), more and more countries from the Global North (Weinar 2017), like Scotland (Leith and Sim 2022), Ireland (Hickman 2020) or Denmark (Birka and Kļaviņš 2020) also seek opportunities to engage with their diasporas. Central and Eastern European countries also try to develop their diaspora policies (Heleniak 2013), as in the case of Poland and Hungary (Lesińska and Héjj 2021) or Moldova (Moşneaga 2014).

Poland has a long-standing tradition of pursuing a diaspora policy, traditionally referred to as the Polonia policy (polityka polonijna). Although modern Polish diaspora policy has been evolving since as early as 1989, it was not until between 2011 and 2015 that the change process gained considerable momentum. The dynamic changes, which – as it seemed then – were to permanently alter the Polish diaspora policy to a great extent in terms of goals, organisation process and leading actors, were so significant that this process was labelled as the creation of a ‘new’ Polonia policy (Fiń, Legut, Nowak, Nowosielski and Schöll-Mazurek 2013; Nowak and Nowosielski 2021). The change in approach has been reflected in some of the key documents which set the policy’s premises with considerable implications for implementation practice.

This article shows the extent to which the ‘new’ Polish diaspora policy premises are consistent with selected features or ‘themes’ characteristic of New Public Management or NPM (Barzelay 2000: 241). In our opinion, the fundamental tenets of the ‘new’ diaspora policy may be summarised as embracing the principles of NPM (cf. Laegreid and Christensen 2013; Menz 2011). The reasons for the adoption of NPM tools by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the planning and execution of the Polonia diaspora policy seem to be twofold. Firstly, it may be interpreted as an adjustment to the general changes that affected the public administration and financial policy of the Polish state (Marchewka-Bartkowiak 2014). Secondly, they served as a pretext to redefine the rudiments of the Polonia policy. This redefinition may have resulted from a political change in the perception of the dominant objectives of the Polish diaspora policy although it could also be the result of a struggle for leadership in the planning and implementation of diaspora policy (Nowak and Nowosielski 2021).

The article begins with a theoretical context by introducing the concept of NPM, which gained significant popularity in 1990 as a contribution to both practical doctrine and management theory. Secondly, the results of an empirical study examining two types of source – documents for programming and implementing Polish diaspora policy and interviews with persons in charge of designing and executing such policy – are presented.

New Public Management: development and principles

New Public Management is an approach to public-sector management that has been present in literature and practice since the 1980s. It emerged from the criticism of ‘the classic public administration paradigm’ (Homburg, Pollitt and van Thiel 2007: 1). In the 1990s, management experts dealing with the public sector (Hood 1991; Osborne and Gaebler 1992; Pollitt 1990) began to invent concepts and to coin terms such as ‘managerialism’, ‘efficiency’, ‘results orientation’, ‘customer orientation’ and ‘value for money’ (Homburg et al. 2007). The approach, which was dubbed NPM (Osborne and McLaughlin 2002), is not internally homogenous, however, as several variants have been observed (Gruening 2001; Pollitt and Bouckaert 2004). For further analysis, we use Schedler and Proeller’s (2002) proposal of a ‘set of generic categories of NPM’, which seems to describe the basic rules of this approach exhaustively.

Table 1. Set of generic categories of NPM

Notes: P+L = profit and loss; PPP = public–private partnerships.

Source: Schedler and Proeller (2002: 165).

Its most cited forerunner countries are the United Kingdom, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, followed by the regions of Scandinavia and continental Western Europe (Christensen and Laegreid 2003; Lane 2000). Developing countries – primarily Asian – also undertook reforms consistent with NPM guidelines (Lee and Haque 2006).

Some Central and Eastern European countries followed suit and began applying selected NPM practices after launching their systemic reforms in 1989 and subsequent years (Lucica 2009; Niznansky and Pilat 2001). This implementation took place in three main phases: (1) the post-communist transformation period (1988–1996) – the reforming and re-creation of public administration systems directly after the systemic transformation; (2) the pre- and EU-accession period (1997–2004/2007) when many CEE countries were adapting their public administration system to EU standards; and (3) the post-EU-accession period (starting in 2004/2007 with the intensification of NPM application after the global financial crisis in 2008), which focused on the constant ‘fine-tuning’ of the administrative systems and adapting them to post-crisis conditions (Drechsler and Randma-Liiv 2014: 7–8).

In the case of Poland, there is evidence that NPM has been implemented in different sectors of the public administration (Czarnecki 2013; Kordasiewicz and Sadura 2017; Marona and Van den Beemt-Tjeerdsma 2018; Rózak 2011; Sześciło 2014). In some cases, these attempts have been quite successful – e.g. the development of cooperation between public administration and the third sector (Nowosielski 2010); in some, less so – e.g. higher education reform (Czarnecki 2013).

As in other CEE countries, NPM in Poland has been introduced in three phases; however, it seems that only since 2009 have most of the NPM practical instruments found their grounding in the strategic programmes introduced by the authorities (Marchewka-Bartkowiak 2014). The main document of this kind was the long-term strategic programme ‘Poland 2030’ (Boni 2009)1 introduced by the neoliberal Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) ruling in Poland in the years 2007–2015.

While analysing the impact of NPM in Poland, one should be aware of a kind of hybridity model of the public-management model in Poland. As Anna Kordasiewicz and Przemysław Sadura (2017: 797) observe:

The real model of delivering public services resembles a Russian ‘matryoshka’ doll, where the outer ideological layer of governance masks the underlying contradictory attitudes: while tasks are indeed outsourced (in accordance with the NPM model), public administration monopolises resources and exerts hierarchical control in style typical of the traditional model of government.


This article presents the outcomes of research built on a model consisting of two key components. It begins by reviewing the programming and implementing documents associated with the Polonia policy since 2010. We have also examined a number of other key documents related to this field which date back to 1991, when the diaspora policy of the Polish state first began to emerge in the wake of systemic transformations. This has helped to track the evolution of diaspora policy over the span of 25 years.

Secondly, the article uses the findings of an empirical study conducted between 2015 and 2016 with 25 representatives of diaspora institutions and organisations (Gamlen 2014) participating in the formulation and implementation of Polish diaspora policy. The research relied on individual in-depth interviews (based on an interview guide composed of open-ended questions) to provide insights into the way in which the so-called institutional agents perceive ongoing processes in the field of diaspora policy organisation (DiMaggio and Powell 1983). The study included representatives from a wide range of institutions involved in devising and implementing diaspora policy, including governmental institutions, both chambers of the Polish parliament, Polish NGOs as well as research organisations which provided their expertise. The applied sampling technique was purposive; we have chosen institutions perceived as having significant roles in Polish diaspora policy and contacted those representatives who might provide expertise because of their positions in the organisations. The interviews were recorded and transcribed. The analytical approach applied was based on Anselm Strauss and Juliet Corbin’s classical content-analysis method (Gibbs 2008) and led to the compilation of a map of categories (Czarniawska 2014).


New diaspora policy in the light of documents

Although the Polish diaspora policy dates back to the 1920s, it was developed anew after the democratic breakthrough of 1989. Despite this long tradition, one should speak of discontinuation rather than continuity. There were specific solutions applied before World War II that seemed to have been recreated after 1989. The examples are the special role and care over the Polish diaspora by the upper house of parliament – the Senate – or the involvement of non-governmental organisations established to support Polonia, such as the Polish Emigration Society (Polskie Towarzystwo Emigracyjne), and the Adam Mickiewicz Society for the Cultural Support for Poles Abroad (Towarzystwo Opieki Kulturalnej nad Polakami Zamieszkałymi za Granicą im. Adama Mickiewicza) (Górecki 2011; Palko 2021). However, closer analysis shows that, in terms of both organisation and concept, the Polonia policy after 1989 constitutes a new realm. The more than 40-year period of the Polish People’s Republic and the often hostile activities taken by its authorities towards the Polish diaspora (Kraszewski 2011) successfully deconstructed the previously functioning institutions and policies.

Aware that the relationship between the Polish state and the diaspora (referred to as Polonia in the Polish language) had been tarnished by the negative experience of the preceding 45 years as well as the fact that Poland itself, as well as Poles living abroad, saw it as critical, the Senate (the upper chamber of the Polish parliament) as the first institution in the new democratic Poland, recognised the need to establish robust relations with the diaspora. The Senate was supposed to 'play a leading role in caring for Poles abroad' (Czerniawska, Łanczkowski and Orzechowska 2014: 28–29).

The paradigm which the Polish state adopted for the treatment of Poles living abroad has undergone multiple transformations since 1989. Although mainly general and vague, the tenets and objectives of the diaspora policy were defined in a range of documents. The first document of this type: ‘The Objectives and Priorities of the Government’s Policy on Polonia, Emigration and Poles Living Abroad’, was comprised of an annex to Governmental Act 145/91 of 5 November 1991 on collaboration with the diaspora, emigrants and Poles living abroad. The document stated that

maintaining and developing multifaceted relationships between the home country and the diaspora shall be the responsibility of the entire nation and shall be pursued by the state administration, non-governmental organisations as well as members of migrants’ family members and professional and other communities. (Council of Ministers 1991)

This paradigm was further strengthened in the ultimately supreme legislation, i.e. the Polish Constitution of 2 April 1997, which entrusted the responsibility for the diaspora to the Polish state. Its Article 6.2 states that: ‘The Republic of Poland shall assist Poles living abroad in maintaining a relationship with the nation’s cultural heritage’ (Constitution of the Republic of Poland 1997). This provision lends legitimacy to the efforts of the Polish state concerning the diaspora. It also makes it clear that the key focus of such efforts should be to preserve ties with Polish identity.

Although the Polonia policy, to some extent, evolved over time with the introduction of new governmental programmes of collaboration with the Polonia and Poles living abroad, formulated in 2002 (MFA 2002) and 2007 (MFA 2007), it can be said that the basic assumptions remained unchanged:

  1. Emphasis was put on issues related to cultural affirmation: maintaining national identity, knowledge of the Polish language and Polish culture, and strengthening the ties of the Polish diaspora with the homeland (Nowosielski and Nowak 2017b).
  2. Relations between the Polish state and the Polish diaspora were perceived in terms of axiologically conditioned obligations of the state towards the diaspora; Poland was to be obliged to support Poles living abroad (Nowosielski and Nowak 2017b).
  3. A clear distinction was made between two categories of the Polish community: Poles in the East – who were treated as a priority, as requiring care and support due to a worse financial situation and their symbolic ‘abandonment’ by Poland – and Poles in the West, who were perceived as a community with a better financial position and as people who left the homeland of their own free will (Nowosielski and Nowak 2017a).
  4. Contrary to most diaspora policy engagement systems (Agunias 2009; Gamlen 2014), a specific organisation of this public policy was observed in Poland from 1989 to 2011. This specificity was based on the powerful position of the upper chamber of the parliament – the Senate.2
  5. The functioning of strong non-governmental organisations supporting or, in some cases, even implementing Polonia policy like The Polish Commonwealth Association (Stowarzyszenie Wspólnota Polska), the Semper Polonia Foundation and Support for Poles in the East Foundation (Fundacja Pomoc Polakom na Wschodzie).

It was the year 2011 that brought about perhaps the most crucial paradigm shift aimed at formulating a ‘new’ Polonia policy (Fiń et al. 2013).3 Interestingly enough, contrary to its predecessors, the paradigm relied primarily on short-term planning and specific measures. This is because, despite all its prior attempts, it was not until 2015 that the government managed to adopt and implement a new strategic document. The year 2011 saw the release of a draft governmental programme for collaboration with the Polonia and Poles living abroad (MFA 2011) which was supposed to be adopted in 2013. Although some of its objectives were later pursued, the programme itself was never brought into force. However, based on the draft programme and other documents such as ‘The Priorities of Poland’s Foreign Policy in 2012–2016’ (MFA 2012) as well as the annually announced ‘Plans for Collaboration with the Polonia and Poles Living Abroad’, one can characterise several leading features of the ‘new’ Polonia policy. The face of these changes was the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the years 2007–2014 – Radosław Sikorski. A summary of the fundamental principles of the ‘new’ Polish diaspora policy adopted for the years 2011–2015 and its implications for diaspora organisations is presented in Table 2.

Table 2. Tenets of the ‘new’ Polonia policy implemented in 2011–2015

The analysis of the strategic documents that defined the new diaspora policy shows that the Polonia policy was perceived as a tool with which to pursue Poland’s national interests – especially in the field of foreign policy. Clearly, it shows an interest-driven approach in which relations between the Polish state and its diaspora were supposed to be pragmatic. This normative shift was complemented by institutional and financial changes because of the strengthening of the role of the MFA and the weakening of the position of the Senate. The MFA reorganised the financial system for support of the Polonia: open tenders to Polish institutions and NGOs to realise projects that addressed Polish diaspora needs began to be organised.

New diaspora policy as seen by Polish diaspora institutions

A review of the findings of the empirical study should begin with the presentation of a map of the scope of the research which, during the investigation, formed a framework for developing a map of the meanings (Czarniawska 2014: 98) found in the ongoing discourse. An examination of the in-depth interviews with the Polish institutions and NGOs involved in implementing diaspora policy has revealed three significant issues that bond the ‘new’ Polonia policy with NPM principles: effectiveness, ‘projectification’ and competition.

Effectiveness: ‘Our diaspora policy boils down to the effective utilisation of the funds’. One of the criteria applied to assess the implementation of diaspora policy was the effectiveness achieved in managing the state funds appropriated for that purpose. As perceived by the representatives of state institutions, effective use of such budgets is critical for the ultimate assessment of efforts to pursue the tenets of diaspora policy: ‘In view of such financial considerations, the pragmatism and effectiveness of our diaspora policy boil down to the effective utilisation of the funds’ (1_ IDI_ PI).

Adopting certain principles of NPM logic, governmental institutions (and specifically the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which took over the lion’s share of the budget appropriated to diaspora relations in 2012), chose to promote the economically effective management of public funds. The competition procedure has been treated as a tool for achieving the objectives resulting from that priority. The decisions that were made rested on the assumption that was fundamental in the NPM approach, which is that the non-governmental sector offers more superior efficiency and that it is best to delegate public work to that sector: ‘(…) the state only extends its support while the associations act much more flexibly and rationally than state institutions’ (10_ IDI_ PI).

Projectification: ‘We approve of and deploy projects in all areas’. The acceptance of the primacy of the logic of economic effectiveness in managing public funds and the adoption of the competition procedure led to another result that seems to be relevant. Since 2012, the system for implementing diaspora policy has begun to ‘projectify’ public work (Godenhjelm, Lundin and Sjöblom 2015):

We choose our means to fit the method, fit what is referred to these days as the project method. We approve of and deploy projects in all areas – we use them in sports, culture, education, and secure sizable funding for publishing and other media. (4_ IDI_ PI)

The competition and ‘projectification’ brought about by the adoption of the NPM framework caused the relations among individual organisations to be described in terms of the economic effectiveness of their actions. The benchmark the respondents used for comparing the role of their own institution with those of the others were the outcomes generated with the use of state funding:

The way I see it, the only reasonable efforts directed at the diaspora are those that generate a return for the country which provides the financing. Every investment must produce a return. (4_ IDI_ PI)

Competition: The creation of the ‘diaspora serving market’. It appears justified to posit that a new form of rivalry has been emerging among the diverse institutions engaged in diaspora policy. In this new rivalry, organisations compete on how effectively they can utilise state funds and maximise the resulting benefits.

Nevertheless, the competition influenced not only state institutions but also the Polish non-governmental organisations engaged in diaspora policy. Such NGOs are significantly influenced by the NPM approach in both their status and their mutual relations. At the level of discourse, the most significant influence has resulted from the use of the notion of the ‘diaspora serving market’ – which is a neoliberal idea describing the opening of the possibility of applying for funds for cooperation with the Polish diaspora, thus far only allocated to a few select and specialised NGOs (like The Polish Commonwealth Association, the Semper Polonia Foundation, and the Support for Poles in the East Foundation) which had previously been established by state institutions. The adoption of the tender procedure was to reform the scene. To use a common metaphor in the research field at the time, the process was to create a ‘free diaspora-serving market’ for services for the Polonia open for competition and to ‘liberate’ it from its domination by a well-entrenched oligopoly. Therefore, the competitions were not only to boost the efficiency and rationality of diaspora policy implementation but also to broaden the base of Polish NGOs participating in efforts targeted at the diaspora and Poles living abroad. As far as we could ascertain, the notion was first used by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in a discourse in the organisational field (DiMaggio and Powell 1983). An examination of publically disclosed documents (Senate 2013) showed that the term was soon picked up by other institutions.

The narratives provided by the representatives of the institutions outlined the influence of ‘liberating the diaspora-serving market’ in three ways. Firstly, the real broadening of the range of the NGOs assigned to implementing diaspora policy may be proof of the successful reform, as it helped to overcome the prior domination by a small number of government-organised non-governmental organisations or GONGOs and contributed to greater transparency in public spending. Access to funds for projects targeted at the diaspora and Poles living abroad became more equal:

That was a significant benefit: back in the day, when no tenders were held, there was practically no competition to speak of. You could see – and everyone knew it – who in the Senate could count on financing – it was, in fact at this level that a certain degree of free competition for funding emerged. Everyone stood an equal chance of securing the financing. (11_ IDI_ PI)

Secondly, a higher number of Polish NGOs were allowed to conduct public work. It included many organisations that were highly efficient or even specialised in fundraising and securing public funds in various tender procedures but which nevertheless lacked the technical and operational expertise to carry out the proposed projects targeted at the diaspora:

On the other hand, there are certain restrictions today that have been imposed by the system of competitions held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These have affected the awarding of funds to the NGOs that help the diaspora (…) There have been cases where organisations were awarded funds for activities they knew very little about. (3_ IDI_ PI)

Thirdly, the intention behind adopting the competition procedure was to provide multiple NGOs with incentives to vie for limited resources. That kept them from collaborating and prevented them from better responding to the needs of the diaspora in their performance of public work. In other words, as a result of adopting the competition system, competition for public contracts among NGOs and GONGOs became a goal unto itself rather than a means to ensuring the better implementation of diaspora policy:

The competition procedure and the drive to serve the diaspora market (…) were designed to create competition. Now that the scene has become competitive, mutual relationships have eroded and collaboration has dissipated. This is precisely where we lost track of the needs of the diaspora and moved to a system in which the real beneficiaries are local entities expected to compete against one another. (13_ IDI_ PI)


The diaspora policy was not the only Polish public policy influenced by NMP at that time. As noticed earlier, it was a broader tendency related to the rule of the neo-liberal party – Civic Platform and its long-term strategic programme ‘Poland 2030’. As a result, in many areas of the public administration, there is clear evidence of NPM-driven reforms, e.g. in energy policy (Rózak 2011), higher education (Czarnecki 2013), and healthcare (Sześciło 2014).

However, when considering the influence of NMP on Polish public policies, including diaspora policy, one should bear in mind that it seems that this influence might not only be superficial – as Kordasiewicz and Sadura (2017) suggest – but also limited in time.

The end of the term of office of Radosław Sikorski as the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the years 2007–2014 can be considered the beginning of a hybrid policy (Nowosielski and Dzięglewski 2021) combining the features of both the old and the new Polish diaspora policies. Sikorski’s successor, Grzegorz Schetyna – although from the same political party – withdrew from some of the more radical solutions and plans related to Polish diaspora policy. During his term in office, a new government cooperation programme with the Polish diaspora and Poles abroad for the years 2015 to 2020 was adopted (MFA 2015). In its final version, many proposals perceived as too radical were abandoned. The emphasis placed in earlier documents and recommendations on the involvement of the Polish diaspora in the implementation of the Polish raison d’état has also been significantly weakened (Nowosielski 2016). After the parliamentary elections in 2016 there was a power shift in Poland. The new ruling political party Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) further deepened the process of withdrawing from some of the changes enforced by Radosław Sikorski. However, it is worth emphasising that it was not a complete reversal of logic and a total return to the old Polish diaspora policy. An expression of this hybrid approach may be that the programme introduced in 2015 is still valid today.

As part of the hybrid Polish diaspora policy, elements of the old Polish diaspora policy are implemented, such as the emphasis on supporting issues related to cultural affirmation: maintaining national identity, knowledge of the Polish language and Polish culture, strengthening the ties of the Polish diaspora with their homeland, as well as solid support for Poles in the East.

At the same time, some elements of the new Polish diaspora policy are maintained, including the emphasis on cooperation with the Polish diaspora in the West. One of the NPM rules also still seems to be used – the perception of the Polonia policy as an instrument for implementing the policy of the Polish state and the Polish raison d’état; this time, however, the Polish diaspora is seen as a tool for performing both public diplomacy and historical policy.

Our objective was to show how diaspora policy may be subject to changes that do not result from changing conditions, such as the size or shape of the diaspora but, above all, from dominant approaches in public administration. Applying the NPM principles was supposed to bring about a permanent revolution in the shape of the Polish diaspora policy and make it not so much a tool for building relations with the diaspora but, rather, a way to use it to achieve the state’s goals.

So far, most of the research on diaspora policies has focused on specific activities (Başer 2019; Bhattacharya 2009; Mencutek and Baser 2018), tools (Lesińska and Wróbel 2020; Sendhardt 2021; Udrea and Smith 2021) and institutions (Gamlen 2014; Garding 2018). Some of them had clear theoretical ambitions – indicating, for example, what particular inspirations lie behind different types of perspectives for conducting diaspora policy (Gamlen et al. 2019). However, the goals and principles of diaspora policy implementation are relatively rarely presented from the perspective of public administration research. In our opinion, such a point of view allows us to broaden our knowledge of how this specific type of public policy functions. Therefore, we hope that our approach will open a discussion on goals that lay behind the different kinds of policy toward the diaspora.


Our research has helped to identify how diaspora policy design and implementation have changed over time. Our findings show that the diaspora policy pursued by the Polish state in the years 2011–2015 relied noticeably on implementing – in public policy realms – the precepts of New Public Management, as formulated by Hood (1991) and Schedler and Proeller (2002). Firstly, changes can be seen in the nature of the relationship between the sending state and the diaspora. These involve a shift of emphasis from the obligations of the Polish state towards the diaspora to the obligations of the diaspora towards their homeland and the benefits that Poland stands to derive from their fulfilment. Consequently, diaspora policy tasks are being increasingly delegated to the diaspora itself. Secondly, steps have been taken to restructure the diaspora policy implementation system and dismantle the collaboration model in order to create competition among the various relevant players and marketise the performance of public tasks. Thirdly, the above features of the ‘new’ diaspora policy were primarily an attempt to make the utilisation of public funds more effective.

On the one hand, dramatic changes were made in the approach to the relations with the diaspora and its representative organisations. Any spending by the Polish state was to produce benefits (such benefits did not necessarily need to be financial). Meanwhile, non-governmental actors were expected to perform public work in the field more effectively and rationally.

The policy reforms appear to influence different types of entities, i.e. state institutions responsible for diaspora policy and Polish NGOs assigned to the implementation of that policy and diaspora organisations. In the case of the state institutions engaged in the diaspora policy, a new form of competition has been emerging focused on effectiveness in utilising state funds for maximum effect. As for the Polish-based NGOs involved in diaspora policy, the consequences of adopting NPM guidelines include the emergence of a ‘diaspora-serving market’. The actual broadening of the spectrum of the NGOs participating in diaspora policy implementation and the greater effectiveness achieved in utilising public funds created a ‘market’ of ‘unfair competition’. Organisations that were well skilled in securing access to public funds through tenders that succeeded in MFAs competitions often turned out to be ill-prepared to carry out the projects they were expected to complete. The use of competition procedures has also led to replacing collaboration with rivalry. Finally, other reform outcomes are those pertaining to the adoption of tender procedures in awarding public funds and its impact on the collaboration with the diaspora and Poles living abroad. Such impacts included the ‘projectification’ of diaspora policies and the resulting discontinuity in relations with Polish communities abroad, as well as the uncertainty felt by the Polish immigrant organisations benefiting from the services delivered by the Polish-based NGOs that have won tenders.

Table 3. Generic categories of NPM and their influence on the ‘new’ Polish diaspora policy

The results of our analysis are summarised in Table 3, which shows that the changes in Polish diaspora policy in the years 2011–2015 are consistent with most of the generic categories of NPM as proposed by Schedler and Proeller (2002: 165). In the category of organisational restructuring, we have observed, firstly, the shift of control over diaspora policy from the Senate to MFA and, secondly, as a consequence, the delegation of responsibility for concrete tasks to multiply organisations like NGOs participating in diaspora policy implementation and diaspora organisations. In the category of management instruments, we have observed both the concentration of power and financial resources in the MFA and the focus on efficiency of budgetary spending and, as a specific way of achieving this goal, an open grant competition as the primary tool of diaspora policy. This can be perceived as a peculiar management toll used for paying only for actions evaluated as effective during the application procedure. This category is closely connected to the other – budgetary reforms. In this case, we can refer to open grant competition and the more-objective evaluation of applications which are not only tools for more effectiveness and efficiency in spending public money but also for financial instruments closer to the private sector. NPM reforms of Polish diaspora policy also presumed the development of different forms of participation – the involvement of both diaspora organisations and of diaspora members outside organisations. The ‘new’ Polonia policy also foresaw strong cooperation and partnership between the state and the diaspora. The last category observed in our study – marketisation and privatisation – is strongly connected to the phenomena of reaching efficiency through competition, the diaspora-serving market and ‘projectification’. Although the entities dealing with diaspora policy are either public or non-governmental rather than private, the NPM rules applied during the reform force these entities to apply for funding by proposing projects and competing with one another.

Out of the list of categories proposed by Schedler and Proeller, only one – customer orientation and quality management – was not confirmed in our research.


1 Anna Kordasiewicz and Przemysław Sadura (2017) claim that this strategy was based less on NPM and more on principles of ‘responsive management’ and co-governing (governance); however many of the proposed tools are grounded in the NPM approach.

2 Senate was, among others, responsible for financing support for the Polish diaspora and Poles abroad. Therefore, it was a very important tool for shaping Polish policy towards the Polonia.

3 To some extent the changes to the Polonia policy after 2011 may be interpreted as a sort of late adaptation to the changes that took place in the Polish diaspora after the mass post-accession migration to EU countries which significantly changed the structure of the Polish diaspora.

4 The transfer of funding from the Senate to the MFA caused great controversy, among both the diasporic institutions and the Polish diaspora itself. Sometimes it was interpreted as the deprivation of the Senate’s prerogative to care for the Polish diaspora, which it had not only after 1989 but also before the Second World War.


The article is the result of a project ‘Polish Immigrant Organisations in Europe’ (2015–2020) conducted by the Centre of Migration Research, University of Warsaw, Poland which was financed by the Cracow-based National Science Centre (Narodowe Centrum Nauki) as a follow-up to the competition SONATA BIS (no. 2014/14/E/HS6/00731).

Conflict of interest statement

No conflict of interest was reported by the authors.


Michał Nowosielski  https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7383-4872

Witold Nowak  https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4573-250X


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