For many, Kakha Bendukidze (1956–2014) is the creator of the ‘Georgian economic miracle’ and the founder of the Free University of Tbilisi. For HSE faculty and students, he was also a colleague and a teacher. For several years, Mr. Bendukidze was a professor of institutional economics of the Economics Department of the University, where he delivered lectures, arranged master-classes, and worked with students.
To attend one of his popular master classes, students had to get a seat well in advance — if you were late, at best you could hope to listen to his lecture from the corridor. However, even in the corridor everyone could hear his voice, his laugh, and the laugh of the entire audience. He was a very impressing speaker; his stories, jokes, and unconventional, compelling arguments and statements that made it possible to doubt mainstream thought were long remembered and re-told. And he was a generous and open story-teller. All of his students got the opportunity to hear about real economic processes and economic policy from a person who could talk about it as an entrepreneur, a researcher, and a practitioner of institutional reforms.
His empirical experience in business management and institutional project work was of great value for HSE researchers’ joint work on the textbook Course on Institutional Economics (Kuzminov Ya.I., Bendukidze K.A., and Yudkevich M.M., HSE, 2007.). The textbook outlines real-world institutional practices, explains existing applications of the theoretical constructs of institutional economics, and presents examples of actual business management experience. All of this was the outcome of lively discussions as well as debates between the coauthors.
We cannot say that Mr. Bendukidze is ‘a former HSE professor’. Today, his numerous students continue and expand upon his teachings as they work in various business areas, public service management domains, and businesses of their own creation. The spirit of his scholarship and good will lives on.