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Institutions and Values in National and Regional Development

Department: Laboratory for Applied Analysis of Institutions and Social Capital

Object of Research

The thematic area of the reported project is the interplay of institutions and values as development resources and outcomes for nations of the world and Russian regions. Due to the tight bilateral link between institutions and culture (which cis represented by norms, values and attitudes in the society), these two development factors are best to be analyzed within a single research project which employs unified theories and methodologies, as well as integrated data bases drawn for various international and Russian sources. Such integration brings about valuable synergies, whereas individual sub-projects were selected based on their relevance for development and economic policy, and potential contribution to the body of empirical and theoretical knowledge on institutions, values, and their role in development.

The project incorporates a number of studies which are thematically, methodologically and informationally coordinated with each other. The studies cover both general aspects of the interplay of institutions and society in economic development, as well as more narrow topics and issues, such as stability and change of institutions and culture, factors of institutional efficiency and prerequisites of successful institutional reforms, differentiation of regional institutions in Russia and consequences of such institutional diversity, public safety and security, culture as a factor of performance of national sports teams, etc.

Goal of research

The main goals of the project were as follows:

  • Use various cases and sources of empirical information to reveal, illustrate, and analyze the role of institutions and values in national and regional development
  • Develop conceptual models of such links and test empirically the implications and hypotheses derived from such models by using empirical data for various levels of analysis and by employing multiple data sources
  • Study historical roots of culture and demonstrate the impact of past events and present circumstances for the norms and values prevailing in contemporary societies
  • Study the implementation and outcomes of public service reform at the national and regional levels.

In accordance with the above goals, the following research projects were implemented:

  • Institutions and development: a critical analysis of modern theories
  • Administrative stability and the quality of institutions in Russian regions
  • Administrative reform in Russian regions
  • Institutions and culture past a “critical juncture”: the case of Russia
  • Private investments in security: an empirical analysis for Russian regions
  • Spatial segregation and inter-ethnic culture gap (the case of Estonia)
  • Empirical analysis of the role of social capital in the performance of national soccer teams
  • Institutions and accumulation of human capital (the case of Russian empire, 1860-1913)
  • Other studies (impact of decentralized corruption for the private sector; the impact of intellectual capital for the link between government size and life satisfaction; the impact of corruption on trust in national and supra-national institutions during an economic crisis).


The above research projects employed modern theoretical concepts and models of institutional economics and political economy, as well as various empirical research tools using econometric models.

Empirical base of research

Empirical data for the project were collected from various sources, including official Russian statistical databases, and various surveys conducted by Russian and international entities, such as the World Values Survey, European Social Survey, the Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey (conducted by EBRD), and Governance Matters database, international sports statistics, Russian rating agencies, and national censuses.

Research results

Main results of the completed studies are as follows.

1. A critical analysis of modern institutional theories reveals a “missing link” of the role of culture in institutional persistence and change.

2. The effect of “institutional learning in the Russian society has been empirically demonstrated.

3. “Natural experiment” data were used to analyze the role of stability of Russian regional administrations for regional investment climates.

4. The role of spatial segregation in sustaining an inter-ethnic culture gap in Estonia has been demonstrated.

5. Empirical analysis of private investments in safety and security in Russian regions has been performed.

6. Factors and outcomes of public service reform in Russian regions have been analyzed.

7. New data sources and estimation techniques were employed to demonstrate and measure the contribution of social capital into the performance of national soccer teams.

8. The impact of corruption on trust in national and supranational institutions against the backdrop of an economic crisis has been analyzed.

9. Intellectual capital is shown to affect the link between life satisfaction and government size.

The implemented projects contribute to better understanding of the interplay between institutions, society, and development and as such provide valuable theoretical and empirical insight into the nature, driving forces, and the impact of institutional change. The projects also have significant impact for policy.  

Implementation of results

Project materials have been published or are being prepared for publication in academic journals, and were presented at various seminars and Russian and international conferences.

Areas of application

Findings of the above studies are of theoretical and practical significance for the understanding of factors and mechanisms of modernization and development, interplay of institutions and culture, historical roots of cultural norms and values, market reforms, corruption prevention, improvement of government performance at the national and regional levels, public safety and security, performance of sport teams, etc.

Project results can also be used in teaching a number of courses at economics and sociology departments, and could inform expert opinions and policy advice in the above areas.