The research project is being carried out at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Dirk Berg-Schlosser of the University of Marburg. It focuses on a wide range of academic issues related to the processes involved in the emergence, evolution, and decline of modern states. Although these issues are at the cutting-edge of the social sciences, no comparative inquiry has been done of the whole complex of factors affecting nation-building, especially in the post-communist countries. Nor do comparative studies exist on the structural (social, economic, cultural, macro-historical, ethno-religious, geopolitical, international, etc.) and procedural (related to political strategies and decision-making process, cooperation of key political actors, etc.) factors capable of causing a decline of states and the emergence of new states in the post-communist area. Our research is carried out in the framework for studying stateness and its interconnections with various aspects of how states function (including political regime change).
We analyze stateness as a capacity of the state to exercise its fundamental functions. The project aims to discover factors and the structure of their interactions which affect the evolution of post-communist states. We pay special attention to simultaneous regime change processes and search for some regularities and interdependencies.
The research is based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods used to test four main hypotheses:
H1: An empirical model of state capacity of post-communist states may be constructed as a vector index made of five dimensions: external security, internal order, legitimacy, administrative capacity, and promotion of societal development.
H2: The five-dimensional model of state capacity makes it possible to identify substantially distinct clusters among post-communist states. These clusters correspond with different types of state capacity.
H3: Regime change trajectories can be combined into distinct groups. These clusters of trajectories are due to differences in combinations of structural and procedural factors.
H4: State capacity types are related to types of regime change trajectories.
The research is based on data describing 29 post-communist states. The dataset consists of two parts which are state capacity indicators (1) and its supposed factors (2). Some state attributes are measured through available statistical data (World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development databases are used). However, we also use expert judgments.
We find evidence supporting all of our hypotheses. First, we succeeded in constructing, via principal component analysis, and checking the robustness of the five-dimensional state capacity model including external security, internal order, legitimacy, administrative capacity, and the promotion of societal development.
Then, we found three types of state capacity covering all post-communist countries under study. We call them, for convenience, "plump", "normal", and "skinny". Additionally, five types of state capacity dynamics were identified. They are:
1. Uniform broadening of the "plump" state capacity;
2. Dizzy growth of the "normal" state capacity;
3. Sharp shrinking of the "normal" state capacity;
4. Slow fluctuations of the "normal" state capacity;
5. Highly skewed broadening of the "skinny" state capacity.
Furthermore, we used cluster analysis to classify regime change trajectories, and chose a solution of six clusters. As they diverge in the direction and characteristics of regime dynamics, we call them as follows: "Towards Democratic Consolidation", "Aspiration for Democracy", "Leap Torward Democracy", "Problematic Trajectories", "Autocratic Drift", and "Towards Autocratic Consolidation".
Finally, qualitative analysis of state capacity types and regime change trajectories in the 1990s and 2000s revealed that countries approaching a broader state capacity model or belonging to the "plump" group of states typically move towards democracy. While "skinny" states are frequently consolidated autocracies or approach this regime type. We found, moreover, outlier cases like Moldova ("Aspiration for Democracy" cluster and the "skinny" group) which need further analysis.
The research is to be continued in the Laboratory for Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Regime Change at the National Research University Higher School of Economics. A number of courses based on our research are taught at the Department of Politics (“Comparative Politics”, “Multivariate Statistics for Political Scientists”, etc).