Georgia represents a remarkable case of transformation from a particularistic regime to ethical universalism even though it remains to be a ‘borderline case. This paper looks at Georgia’s path to reform in 2004-2012. It outlines a timeline of changes, discusses political actors of change and their backgrounds and then looks at internal and external factors which were regarded as significant in bringing about such change. It is argued that the young elite, both ideologically and structurally cohesive, capitalised on the window of opportunity and implemented ‘big bang’ reform in 2004-2008. As time passed the new incumbents developed vested interest that became apparent in 2008-2012 when a state-business nexus re-emerged with the state apparatus becoming increasingly manipulated for the sake of private and group interests. These interests undermined market competition, and elite networks used state power to control economic and political structures during the Saakashvili administration. Even though concerns over particularistic practices have remained, petty bribery has decreased substantially.