The neoclassical model of transition from a centrally-administered socialist economic system to a market-based economic system was implemented in Russia and Eastern Europe. The neoclassical process took the form of either shock therapy or gradualism. However, each approach actually involved a combination of shock therapy and gradualist policies, making the distinction between the two approaches unfounded. In addition, both approaches suffered by the innate inadequacies of neoclassical economic analysis as being politically/institutionally naked. Both shock therapy supporters and gradualist neoclassical economists did not provide a specific process of institutional development, favouring a gradual market-driven institutional outcome. With regard to the political structure, democracy was inconsistent with shock therapy, while active state intervention during transition was inconsistent with the ultimate goal of the gradualist neoclassical economists of competitive capitalism.
A political economy approach to the transition process required the incorporation not only of the economic structure but also of the political and ideological structures. Consequently, an application of a political economy methodology to the transition process gives rise to alternative models of transition. Each model confronts the elements of the transition process - economic analysis; what is a good society? speed; political structure; ideological structure and whether the initial conditions were a concern - with different solutions, making it meaningful to distinguish between alternative models.