I wrote my honors thesis on the role of insitutions in post-Communist democracy, focusing on Poland and Bulgaria. I pretty much said that the existence of institutions like the church and grass-roots political groups enabled Poland to quickly establish a democratic process, whereas the lack of said institutions prevented Bulgaria from enjoying the same democratic success. When I was doing my preliminary research, I also considered writing about Hungary or the Czech Republic in place of Poland.
In his op-ed on democracy and economy in the Middle East, Thomas Friedman of the NY Times wrote:
"Countries like Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states, which had a history of liberal institutions and free markets that had been suppressed by communism, quickly flourished. Others farther east, which did not have such institutions in their past and were starting from scratch - Bulgaria, Romania and the former Soviet republics - have struggled since the fall of the wall."
I think he's been doing his research in the archives of the Political Science department at Washington University.