Dr Elvin Gjevori defended his PhD at DCU in April 2014. In 2007 Elvin received his MA in International Relations and European Studies (distinction) from Central European University holding a Soros Foundation scholarship. In 2005 he graduated Political Science (summa cum laude) from Saginaw Valley State University, MI, USA. Upon completing his studies he returned to his home country of Albania where he started working as a junior lecturer in political science. During this time he became interested in institutionalization as a key element for the democratization and European integration of his home country and neighbouring Southern Balkan states. Such interest led him to undertake his PhD research in order to better understand the conditions under which transitioning countries are able to institutionalize.

Abstract Title

Explaining Institutional Change: An Ideational Institutional Account of the Albanian Case


Elvin’s PhD project examines the institutionalization of the armed forces and judiciary in Albania aiming to explain under what conditions institutionalization develops in countries transitioning towards democracy. After the fall of Communism in 1991, Albania undertook major reforms in the armed forces and judiciary to fulfill conditions for eventual NATO and EU membership. Although both goals were articulated as the main priorities of the government, today we can observe that the armed forces have institutionalized while the judiciary lags far behind. The question therefore comes naturally: why, considering the similarities between these institutions, did the armed forces institutionalize while the judiciary failed to do the same. Institutionalism theories have long grappled with the issue of institutionalization, however most institutional accounts have focused on ‘developed’ countries accounting for change within the existing institutional framework. This project overcomes institutionalism’s lack of engagement with emerging democracies and its difficulty in accounting for institutionalization by proposing a synthesis between ideationalism and institutionalism as a superior account of the Albanian case and others similar to it. By using a triangulated process tracing method this project aims to show that ‘collective memory’ is an important causal mechanism that can account for the different institutionalization paths of the armed forces and judiciary in Albania.