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Regular version of the site

Drawing Lessons for Russia from the Global Financial Crisis

An expert in the economics of transition, corporate finance, organizational economics as well as law and economics, Dr. Ichiro Iwasaki, Professor of Economics at the Institute of Economic Research (Hitotsubashi University, Japan), will present a lecture entitled ‘What we learnt from the Russian experience during the global financial crisis: A corporate governance perspective’ at the upcoming  XVII April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development. He recently agreed to speak with the HSE news service about his research, his long interest in Russian economics, and his view on how to achieve successful international academic collaboration.

— You have been studying post-Communist transition economies for the last two decades. What trends have you found? What can we expect for Russia’s economy taking into consideration its current economic crisis?

— In the last 20 years, most former socialist countries, including Russia, have established a market economy.  These countries are now at the stage of polishing their capitalist-based institutions and business organizations and making them more sophisticated. These tasks are as important as the initial transition policies (e.g., liberalization, privatization) when it comes to improving the productivity and efficiency of the national economy; researchers are now paying great attention to them. 

It is unfortunate that the 2008 financial shock and subsequent political economic crises continue to damage the Russian economy.  But with every bad thing there is a good side: these external crises may accelerate movement of institutions and organizations towards a better economic system. In my lecture, I will touch on this issue by focusing on corporate governance in Russia and argue how the Russian corporate sector may evolve in the current period of hard times.   

— What do you find challenging when researching transition economies?

— Unlike what orthodox neoclassical economics assumes, the market economy never reaches equilibrium: it is a dynamic system that evolves endlessly. The experiences in transition economies provide us with valuable opportunities to investigate human society from this viewpoint and, actually, the study of Eastern European and former Soviet economies has directed economists’ eyes to this aspect. Although it is not easy to describe and analyze the evolution of economic systems and organizations, those of us who are researchers of transition economies should tackle this issue seriously.

— How did your cooperation with HSE build up? Where do things stand now?

— My relationship with HSE was initiated and developed thanks to kind cooperation by the staff at the Institute for Industrial and Market Studies directed by Professor Andrei A. Yakovlev. Professor Tatiana G. Dolgopyatova – a pioneer of Russian corporate governance study – is also a good partner of mine. 

In 2005, we carried out a large-scale enterprise survey all over the Russian Federation and, based on a firm-level dataset obtained from the survey, we published a series of empirical papers on the organization and management activities of Russian companies. It was a great experience for me to increase my knowledge and insights into Russia.  I have stayed friends with these two distinguished professors and other HSE staff members and am working to produce joint research works in the near future!     

— Your publications have been published in leading Russian journals. How did you find the process? What was challenging for you?

Generally, the peer review and publication process at top Russian journals is similar to that of international ones. One of the great challenges for me was to prepare manuscripts taking into account the particular interests of Russian readers. The manner of publishing a paper on Russia in a Russian journal is largely different from that of producing a paper for international audiences.  Moreover, it is desirable to discuss the policy implications after giving due consideration to the specific problems and/or circumstances in Russia. It’s tough work.  

— What advice would you give young researchers who are interested in international cooperation?

— My past experiences tell me that honesty and altruism are key factors for successful academic collaboration on a global basis. Seeking only for one’s own interests is rather unproductive. Moreover, researchers tend to be moved by passion. An honest and win-win research proposal that is backed up by strong passion is the best way to achieve a constructive international partnership. Needless to say, a clear research objective, careful project strategy and sustainable financial planning are also very important factors for involving foreign counterparts in the long run.     

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE News service

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