Three Days of Constructive Feedback

David Szakonyi, Assistant Professor of Political Science from George Washington University, recently attended the 8th Annual Conference of the International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development (ICSID) held at HSE University in Moscow this June. He has spoken to HSE News service about the conference and his cooperation with HSE University.

This year’s conference theme was ‘The Political Economy of Redistribution and Institutional Change’. The conference also included the EACES-HSE Workshop, ‘Topics in Political Economy of Development’. Scholars discussed topics such as collective actions and public goods; comparative studies of governance; social capital, trust, and cultural norms; human capital and economic development; political elites and economic performance’ and the history and persistence of economic growth.The Conference brought together both Russian and foreign researchers.

Ten Years of Cooperation with HSE University

For ten years David Szakonyi has been collaborating with HSE’s International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development (ICSID). The center was founded in 2011 by a group of Russian and American academics looking to combine their efforts in studying the political and economic development of Russia.

‘So far the results have been quite impressive in my view. Not only have we collected and shared several important datasets of use to all kinds of researchers working on Russia, but our own work on subjects like regional elites, public procurement, and business-government relations has been published in many top international journals,’ – says David Szakonyi.

Impressions of the Conference

With regard to this year’s conference, Professor Szakonyi said that he was pleased to hear papers that were diverse in content and high in quality. ‘There was a board range of presentations, from work on economic history to contemporary issues related to development and governance. We had more applications to the workshop than ever before, which was reflected in the merit and professionalism of all our participants’.

He noted that the current crop of PhD students studying Russia is showing exceptional promise, both in their understanding of theoretical debates and the rigor of their methodological approaches.

‘We saw several excellent presentations on social policy and distribute politics, for example, that help shed light on how Russia is modernizing and where there are opportunities for growth.’

Role of Face-to-Face Discussions and Meetings in the Modern Digital World

‘It might come as a surprise to many people outside of universities, but academics are extremely busy and it’s often very hard to find time to think, listen and exchange ideas in person,’ commented Prof. Szakonyi.

The workshop allows participants to read each other's work closely and give critical but constructive feedback about how to improve their projects. ‘I often learn more in these three days about the state of research on Russia than I do the rest of the year, because the in-person focus is so strong.’

Professor Szakonyi is looking forward to another decade of cooperation ‘as we turn our sights to studying governance and the processes that lead to more efficient government at all levels in Russia.’