2019 (16), №4

Institutional Traps in the Education and Science Sector under the Conditions of Optimisation



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Volchik V. V. (2019). Institutional Traps in the Education and Science Sector under the Conditions of Optimisation. Zhurnal ekonomicheskoj Teorii [Russian Journal of Economic Theory], 16(4), 783-795


Deep institutional reforms in the Russian sector of education and science are currently characterised by the dominance of the optimisation concept. The rhetoric of optimisation in the development of measures of socio-economic policy is closely linked with neoliberal ideology. The widespread and rooted in public discourse ideas are associated with institutional change and policies. An analysis of narratives and discourses of the main actors allowed us to identify ineffective and suboptimal institutions or institutional traps arising in the process of reformation. The forms of rationality associated with the development and implementation of institutional innovations were examined. Following the analysis of 20 in-depth interviews with academic staff, six institutional traps were identified: the trap of metrics, the trap of increasing bureaucracy, the trap of financing gap, the trap of electronisation and digitalisation, the trap of reducing the quality of education, the trap of human resources. The investigation of institutional traps by analysing the discourses of their main actors provides a better understanding of their mechanisms and social contexts. It is shown that the majority of actors negatively perceive the institutions introduced during optimisation and associate them with deterioration in the quality of educational and scientific activities. The institutional traps can be overcome by the development of de-liberation processes in the course of planning and implementation of reforms in the sector of education and science.

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Vyacheslav Vital’evich Volchik — Doctor in Economics, Professor, Departmental Head, Department of Economic Theory, Southern Federal University (Rostov-na-Donu, Russian Federation; e-mail: volchik@sfedu.ru).

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