Post-Soviet Developmentalism and the Political Economy of Russia’s Electricity Sector Liberalization

  • Susanne A. WengleEmail author


Observers of Russian state market relations typically consider the state as an entity engaged in creating rent-seeking opportunities for bureaucrats or powerful economic interests. The trajectory and outcomes of electricity sector reforms demonstrate the limits of this perspective and serve to highlight a developmental strand in Russian economic policy, which I call post-Soviet developmentalism. I found that post-Soviet developmentalism is key to understanding the patterns of market institutions that have emerged in the newly liberalized electricity sector and that they cannot be adequately explained if the state is largely seen as a predator or as captured by oligarchic interests. A close analysis of the institutional underpinnings of new electricity markets suggests that they were shaped in political bargains, in which the government sought to enlist Russia’s oligarchic conglomerates for its modernization agenda and developmental priorities. The paper links this discussion to three sets of theoretical literatures: It speaks to the debates on the post-Soviet transition, more broadly to the political economy of market reform, and finally, it addresses the developmental state literature.


Market reforms Post-Soviet transitions Market institutions Developmental state Electricity liberalization Industrial geography 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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