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Departmental Seminar: The Politics of Bad Governance in Contemporary Russia

Vladimir Gel'man
Wednesday, April 12, 2023, 1:30 pm – 3:10 pm

In his new book, The Politics of Bad Governance in Contemporary Russia (University of Michigan Press, 2022, open access) Vladimir Gel’man considers bad governance as a distinctive politico-economic order that is based on a set of formal and informal rules, norms, and practices quite different from those of good governance. Some countries are governed badly intentionally because the political leaders of these countries establish and maintain rules, norms, and practices that serve their own self-interests. The book considers bad governance as a primarily agency-driven rather than structure-induced phenomenon. It addresses the issue of causes and mechanisms of bad governance in Russia and beyond from a different scholarly optics, which is based on a more general rationale of state-building, political regime dynamics, and policy-making. The problem is that most rulers, especially if their time horizons are short and the external constraints on their behavior are not binding, tend to govern their domains in a predatory way because of the prevalence of short-term over long-term incentives. Contemporary Russia may be viewed as a prime example of this phenomenon. Using an analysis of case studies of political and policy changes in Russia after the Soviet collapse, the book discusses the logic of building and maintaining the politico-economic order of bad governance in Russia and paths of its possible transformation in a theoretical and comparative perspective.