‘This Year Marks an Important Step in the Conference’s Trajectory’
The XVII April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development hosted by the HSE with support from the World Bank will start in Moscow on April 19th, 2016. Deputy Chairmen of the Conference Programme Committee Lev Jakobson and Andrei Yakovlev discuss the new format of the April Conference’s plenary sessions and share their views on some of the new themes and particularly noteworthy guest speakers.
Lev Jakobson, Deputy Chairman of the Conference Programme Committee and First Vice Rector of HSE
Over the course of its 17-year history, the April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development has come quite a long way. The conference’s format has changed on several occasions, as has our understanding of key problems in our country’s economic and social modernisation.
During its first few years, the conference served mostly as a forum for experts from business, government, and academia to discuss the various problems facing the country. At that point in time, this kind of representative forum was, for the most part, the only one of its kind in Russia. Representatives from the Russian government, including the prime minister, deputy prime minister, and the heads of various other ministries, took part in the conference, as did the CEOs of large companies, as well as Russian and foreign experts. This tradition of high-level conference participants will continue this year as well.
The April Conference then came to include a second part structured like a traditional international academic conference where participants could present papers and discuss the results of their research. This portion of our conference became the largest and most established interdisciplinary conference on the social sciences in Russia. The committee is very selective when choosing which papers are to be presented at the conference. Works are reviewed not based on the relevance of the research, but on the methodology the author(s) used, the reliability of the data, overall interpretation, etc.
Over time, the line between the two traditional sections of the conference began to fade, as that part of the conference treated largely as a forum became less prominent. Conversely, the academic part of the conference has started dominating over the last several years.
It is for this reason that this year marks an important step in the conference’s trajectory. For the last few years, the plenary sessions have mostly taken place in a presentation format with various respected representatives from business, government, and society simply presenting their views on relevant issues in Russian society. But at this year’s April Conference, participants will discuss research papers. There will still of course be open discussions, but the focus will be on the academic papers presented at the conference.
The conference begins on April 19th, and over a three-day span, plenary sessions will take place on an array of topics, such as macroeconomics; social policy; migration and the Russian labour market; reserves from efficient budgetary spending; the politics of the development of financial markets; technological challenges and innovation; modern problems in education; business and law; the current state of the global agricultural market; the results of healthcare reforms; and much more. A complete list of the plenary sessions will soon be published on the conference’s website.
I consider the conference’s new format to be a step forward in developing a dialogue between academia and the people who influence policy in one way or another. This will be a new stage in the on-going evolution of the April Conference.
Andrei Yakovlev, Deputy Chair of the Conference’s Programme Committee and Director of Institute for Industrial and Market Studies
This year, we are continuing to focus on the academic quality of papers presented at the conference.
In addition, we have been working towards a strong international attendance, and the active involvement of the HSE's international laboratories has been instrumental in this process. When we noticed that HSE-based research groups involving foreign academics had begun to attract new international partners, it was perhaps the first time that we had seen a synergistic effect manifested so clearly. In my opinion, this process is very important for promoting the HSE in the global academic space. It is therefore very encouraging that, despite the challenging relations between Russia and Western countries in recent years, the number of foreign guest speakers at the April Conference has not declined; indeed, we have seen a notable increase in the number of high-ranking academics coming to our conference.
First Time on the Programme
As always, the conference programme is diverse and currently includes 46 sessions with titles beginning with almost every letter of the alphabet.
Traditionally, the HSE April Conference holds a joint workshop with the European Association for Comparative Economic Studies (EACES), this time it is entitled 'Russian Firms in Comparative Perspective'. Its special feature this year will be the publication of presented papers in a special issue of Economic Systems, based on an agreement reached during the workshop preparation last year. Professor Richard Frensch of the University of Regensburg, and Managing Editor of Economic Systems, will attend the April Conference.
I find the idea of holding joint events with foreign associations as part of the local conference really productive: on one hand, it attracts foreign participants who find it easier to raise funds for attending an event held under the auspices of an international association, and on the other hand, such events can create opportunities for papers to be published in special issues of academic journals. In the case of Economic Systems, we expect to have a special issue with the conference papers published next March. If successful, this practice may be expanded to involve more international associations and academic journals.
This year's programme covers a number of new areas which have not been addressed before, such as Trade Policy and the Economics of Sports. So far, the relevant sessions feature just a few papers, yet we find these areas of study quite promising, given the growing number of related international studies. Such exploratory sessions demonstrate that the April Conference is evolving and seeking potential new niches for research.
Old Friends, New Projects
The conference will feature many prominent guest speakers, such as Daniel Treisman who is currently working on a book project to cover the development of Russia's economy and policy in recent years; As I understand, this is a collaborative effort involving a few HSE colleagues, such as Nikolay Petrov and Michael Rochlitz. Hopefully, Daniel will present some of their early results at the conference.
I would also like to mention the lecture by Professor Timur Kuran of Duke University entitled 'Trust, Cooperation, and Development: Historical Roots'. Professor Kuran is one of the world's leading experts on Islamic economies. His first visit here was last year to a conference hosted by the ICSID, and I am very pleased that he has agreed to come back to attend this April Conference.
I need to mention yet another long-term partner with whom we have recently started a new project: Professor Ichiro Iwasaki of Hitotsubashi University, who will give a keynote talk at the joint workshop with EACES mentioned earlier. He is a prominent Japanese expert on the Russian economy. We have been working with him and colleagues from the HSE Centre for Development Institute on a new project to study the outcomes of anti-crisis policies in East European countries, in particular to compare the post-crisis situations after the 2008-2009 and 2014 crises. Professor Iwasaki’s attendance at the workshop gives us the opportunity to continue our collaboration.
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As part of the Management session of the XX April International Conference, Carl F. Fey from Aalto University School of Business, Finland, presented his paper on Facilitating Innovation in Companies in Russia: The Role of Organizational Culture. In his talk, Professor Fey spoke about the results of three studies he has been conducting with his team.
How does digital technology affect the behavior and health of schoolchildren? What opportunities does it proved teachers and school administrators? These and other issues were discussed by participants in the plenary session ‘Children’s Wellbeing in the Digital Age’ at the XX April International Scientific Conference of HSE.
Implementing a digital analytical platform, opportunities for Big Data, and other prospects for the development of Russian statistics were discussed by participants at a plenary session of the XX April International Academic Conference.
Dr. Dorothy Espelage (University of Florida) presented a comprehensive account of her research into youth bullying spanning more than two decades in an invited paper ‘Prevention & Intervention of Youth Bullying and other Forms of Youth Aggression: Research Informed Strategies’ at the XX April International Academic Conference.
The role of regional and industrial institutions of higher education in achieving national development goals must increase, and leading universities will help them. This was the conclusion reached by participants of the plenary session on Russian higher education that took place as part of the XX April International Academic Conference.
The plenary session ‘Strategy of Russian Presence at Global Food Markets’ took place as part of HSE University’s XX April International Academic Conference, where participants discussed the prospects for Russian agricultural exports to Asia, as well as the use of nonconventional investment models, such as Islamic financial tools.
National objectives for social development, as well as existing risks and opportunities in implementing these objectives were discussed by participants of HSE International April Conference.
The social mobility system created under President Vladimir Putin’s initiative begins with a search for talented children and ends with training and selection of the best top executives. On April 10, the participants of a plenary session on ‘The New System of Social Mobility in Russia as a Way to Renew the Elite’ at theXX April International Academic Conference discussed the details of this system, as well as its future outlook.
The first plenary session of the HSE XX April International Academic Conference continued with a discussion on the sources of economic growth, budgetary policy priorities, as well as investment in infrastructure and human capital. Experts from HSE joined other participants to speak on these issues.