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Institutions, Self-Organization, and Development

Priority areas of development: economics
Department: Center for Institutional Studies
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

The reported project deals with the interaction and interdependencies between institutions, self-organization, and socio-economic development.

The capacity of a society for self-organization affects institutional performance and effectiveness. The functioning of institutions and their contribution to development also depends on the conditions of the institutional environment at large. In the completed set of research projects the interplay between institutions, self-organization, and development is analyzed both in general terms and in particular cases arising in politics, economy, education, urban and regional development, and in the course of institutional reforms. Studies of the role of civic culture in development and institutional change were continued. The important focal points of the project were the contribution of civic culture and the capacity for self-organization to the development of cities and local communities, as the role of norms and values for modernization of the Russian university system. Other thematic issues addressed in the project included political and institutional factors of secured property rights, the impact of institutions on the allocation of talent, as well as the historical roots of the capacity for self-organization and social capital more generally.

Goal of the research

The goals of the project were as follows:

  • To use various case studies and sources of empirical information to reveal, illustrate and analyze the inter-connections between institutions, self-organization, and social and economic development
  • To gain additional theoretical insight into such interconnections, and test the predictions of such theories by using empirical data
  • To study the dependence of particular institutions on the overall institutional environment and gain an insight as to how imperfections of such environments affect the performance of selected institutions
  • To obtain new knowledge on the impact of formal and informal institutions on political, economic, and social behavior

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

  • Institutions, civic culture, and development
  • Social capital and local governments (the case of community self-governance initiatives)
  • Prerequisites and mechanisms of political self-organization
  • Norms, conventions, and academic ethics
  • Political regimes, property rights, and investment climate
  • Institutions and the allocation of talent (evidence from locational choices of US PhD graduates)
  • Natural experiments and social capital accumulation in Russia
  • Visa restrictions, international migration, and institutional quality
  • Institutional measurement and economic development

Empirical base of research

The empirical data for the project was drawn from state statistical databases and surveys, as well as from other Russian and international sources, including the Earned Doctorate Survey conducted under the auspices of the National Science Foundation, as well as a survey of Russian firms conducted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in the BEEPS project. A database for studies of institutions, visa restrictions, and international travel has been assembled. A survey was held jointly with the “Public Opinion” foundation to collect data on the impact of World War II on norms and values in today’s Russia.

Research results

The main results of the completed studies are as follows.

1. The role of civic culture in institutional reforms has been studied in the context of modern institutional, political economy, and social theories by using recent empirical data.

2. The idea of community self-governance initiatives has been studied, with an emphasis on the role of civic culture and social capital in the development of local communities.

3. A unique database was assembled and used to analyze the role of social media in in self-organization and citizens’ political involvement.

4. Factors of students’ compliance with the rules of academic ethics have been studied theoretically and empirically; it was concluded that trust-building measures could advance the modernization of the Russian university system.

5. The impact of Russian governors’ rotation and their affiliations with the private sector on the investment climate in Russian regions has been analyzed. The impact of land ownership on the performance of Russian private sector firms was studied.

6. It was found that corruption prevention and political conditions in home countries are factors contributing to the return back home to work of foreign graduates of US PhD programs in science and engineering.

7. The impact of combat experience in the Second World War on the norms and values of contemporary Russians was analyzed. Mechanisms of intergenerational transfer of norms and values shaped by the war were explored.

8. The link between institutions and international migration was studied, including the association between institutional quality and countries’ attractiveness for foreigners, and the impact of political institutions on the regulation of exit of those who want to go abroad.

9. The association between institutional quality and economic development was re-examined using new methods of institutional (quality) measurement.

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. Materials of the study of community self-governance initiatives were used to support such initiatives in the city of Kirov

Areas of application

The findings of the above studies are of theoretical and practical significance for the understanding of the factors and mechanisms of modernization and development, international migration, historic roots of cultural norms and values, institutional measurement, investment climate, university education reform, local governance, and property rights. The project results can also be used in teaching a number of courses at economics and sociology departments, and could inform expert opinions in the above areas.


Борисова Е. И., Полищук Л. И., Суворов А. Д. Академическая этика и мотивация студентов: история двух вузов / Высшая школа экономики. Серия WP10 "Научные доклады Института институциональных исследований". 2013. № 3.
Меняшев Р., Яновский К., Натхов Т. В. Свобода, рейтинги и экономический рост: в поисках надежной связи // Экономическая политика. 2013. № 4. С. 167-188.
Menyashev R., Natkhov T. V., Яновский К. Э. Institutions, ratings and economic growth: in search of reliable indicators / NRU Higher School of Economics. Series WP BRP "Economics/EC". 2013. No. WP BRP 47/EC/2013 .
Polishchuk L. Institutional Performance, in: The Oxford Handbook of the Russian Economy / Ed. by S. Weber, M. V. Alexeev. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2013. P. 189-220.
Polishchuk L., Syunyaev G. R. Ruling elites' rotation and asset ownership: Implications for property rights / NRU Higher School of Economics. Series WP BRP "Economics/EC". 2013. No. 43.