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National Research University Higher School of EconomicsNewsLIA and CInSt Hold Academic Celebration

LIA and CInSt Hold Academic Celebration

On May 30, the HSE held a conference dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the International Research Laboratory for Institutional Analysis of Economic Reforms (LIA) and the 5th anniversary of the Centre for Institutional Studies (CInSt). Maria Yudkevich, director of the LIA, spoke about how and why the laboratory and centre were established, the research they conduct and what guests experienced at the conference.

The International Research Laboratory for Institutional Analysis of Economic Reforms (LIA) was established at HSE 10 years ago as the first university laboratory. Over the years, it launched the centre (CInSt), which conducts academic research in the fields of economics of education, banking and public procurement; its small team has grown into a large team of researchers from various HSE campuses. The summer school held by the laboratory and the centre has become an important event for professionals involved in institutional economics.

Steps along the way

The idea to create a teaching and research laboratory (and later the centre) belongs to Yaroslav Kuzminov. Initially, we wanted to attract young, enthusiastic and talented people to science, and since it was clear that the department structure was not the best option for this, we had to come up with something else. As a result, we became a platform for academic innovation: we were among the first to receive the status of an international laboratory. Even before we got teaching assistants, we began recruiting students to help teachers. We had the first tested model of occupation for employees, with both research and teaching for everyone, but in different proportions. Last year, we launched an institutional economics course on Coursera, which was the result of a huge team effort. Even before the appearance of mass online courses five years ago, we created a shell for an electronic educational course on institutional economics – Eco-online – and posted the textbook and workbooks on the website. Despite the fact that this is ‘old’ technology, it still works and students use it. Our workbooks and solution guides were made in the form of Live Journal, with exercises published as posts, and hints in the form of comments.

We are on the map of global research

In recent years, we have carried out a number of studies that are routinely quoted by the international academic community. They make us visible not only as a research centre in Russia, but also place us and the entire HSE on the world map. For example, there are many references to our research on the correlation between certain genetic markers and a person’s academic success. It was conducted on a sample of more than 2,000 respondents (according to the RLMS-HSE) under the direction of Professor John Nye.

We try to conduct research on the frontier of economics and at the same time at the junction of economics and other disciplines in collaboration with leading research centres around the world. Together with the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, we lead projects dedicated to studying the academic profession, not only in Russia but also in other countries. Through these projects, we have already published four books in leading international editions, one of which - Young Faculty in the Twenty-First Century – was published by State University of New York Press.

A group headed by Elena Podkolzina is conducting interesting work at the junction of applied and academic research; this work is dedicated to public procurement. She and her colleagues are working closely with the HSE Institute for Industrial and Market Studies.

What was discussed at the conference

We believed that the best way to celebrate our anniversary was to arrange a conference. For the plenary session, three reports were presented on the major research areas of the centre. Leonid Polischuk spoke on empirical studies of social capital; his team is studying the role of social capital in various aspects of economic development. John Nye spoke on the relationship of external, institutional and internal psychophysiological factors. My speech was devoted to one of the projects on education.

There were also several sections on the labour market, social networks, and political economy. We wanted to put our ideas into an overall context, so the conference programme included more presentations by colleagues from other research centres at HSE and beyond. Speaking at the conference were representatives of the Laboratory for Studies in Economic Sociology, the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, the International laboratory for Applied Network Research, the Laboratory of Sociology in Education and Science (St. Petersburg), the Centre for Labour Market Studies, the Institute of Education, the New Economic School, and the Institute for New Economic Thinking (Oxford).

In preparing for the conference, we found information about all our colleagues who at one time have been on our staff. There were more than a hundred people who now live in different countries - America, Italy, France, England, Holland, and Germany; we try to keep in touch with all of them. We indeed had a great academic celebration.

Conference programme