In this paper Gojko Bezovan compares role and impact of the third sector in transformative process in  Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Croatia. From the very beginning, civil society initiatives were playing an important role in the changes which have happened in post-socialist countries. Path dependency was playing a decisive role in the regulation, development and achievements of civil society and in the emergence of third sector development and its impact. In the 1990s Slovenian, Croatian and Czech societies were in different positions with the dissolution of the former states of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. Croatian and to a lesser extent Slovenian development was marked by the war, which made a long-lasting impact in society.

Bezovan conceptualises civil society organisations as a part of civic engagement of citizens, more involved in
advocacy, while third sector organisations act as social entrepreneurs, income generators and providers of social services. The role of third sector organisations in these societies is more or less similar. Comparative empirical evidence gives an insight in the role of TSOs in social policy and into sector development.

In the first part of the paper there is an analysis of public discourses and first empirical evidence on civil society development from the end of 1980s and in 1990s in three countries before exploring how civic and advocacy organisations contributed to political openness for third sector development; to what extent such organisations are involved in hearings, public commissions and other policy making bodies; and reviewing empirical evidence of the impact of TSOs providing social services.