Неэргодическая экономика

Авторский аналитический Интернет-журнал

Изучение широкого спектра проблем экономики

Competition between Russian Socioeconomic Universities

This article is dedicated to the struggle between major socioeconomic universities (SEUs) of Russia for leading positions in the higher education market. It is shown that only in Russia are SEUs, along with classical universities and technological institutes, the strongest players in the market of higher education establishments. The ranking data of the country’s higher schools of economics for 2013–2016 are given, which demonstrate the escalating competition between the most successful SEUs of Russia, manifested in regular “castling” between the higher education institutions in the top list ranking. The authors emphasize the importance of factors of competitive growth, such as the publication of leading economics journals, the creation of a network of scientific divisions in the structure of universities, the formation of an all–Russia information agenda on their territories, and the development of regional analytics centers.

At present, Russia sees a new round of competition between higher education establishments for leading positions in various coordinate systems. As a rule, the success of universities is manifested in their special administrative status and high place in various rankings, both national and international. However, the experience of recent years shows that resources for higher education institutions are decreasing, escalating competition even between leading universities of the country. This struggle is marked by a strongly pronounced peculiarity: it rests on a kind of competitive creativity, which allows higher education establishments to use new, sometimes nontraditional models of success against the backdrop of the almost fully exhausted reserve of standard tools of administrative dominance.

This circumstance largely predetermines the two fold purpose of this article: first, to form a ranking “photo” of higher education institutions not only for the time being but also in dynamics and, second, to explain changes in the market of universities based on their specific success models. Note that the subject area is limited to consideration of socioeconomic uni versities (SEUs) alone. As research methods, we will use the data of specialized rankings and the method of stylized examples (MSE), which was developed in [1].

 

The specifics of Russia’s university model

 

In some what simplified language, we can say that the modern market of higher educational establishments in the West is represented by two key segments–classical universities (CUs) and technological institutes (TIs). Of course, there exist other kinds of higher education establishments (medical, agrarian, pedagogical, liberal–arts, etc.), but, as a rule, they fail to compete with the above two forms for the leading positions in the market. Meanwhile, technological institutes not only compete with universities but also often outdo them.

Note as an example that, according to the global Times Higher Education (THE) university ranking for 2018, the California Institute of Technology is in 3rd place; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 5th place; the ETH Zurich–Swiss Federal Institute of Technology is 9th; the Georgia Institute of Technology is 33rd; the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne is 38th; the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is 44th; Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, is 52nd; and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology is 95th [2]. Thus, technological institutes in America, Europe, and Asia compete with classical universities on equal terms.

The situation in our country is very similar. For example, according to the Expert RA (RAEX) rating for 2017, 2nd place belongs to the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT); 3rd, to the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI; 7th, to Bauman Moscow State Technical University; 8th, to Tomsk Polytechnic University; 10th, to Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University; 17th, to the National University of Science and Technology “MISiS”; 18th, to the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas; 19th, to the Moscow Power Engineering Institute; and 26th, to Novosibirsk State Technical University [3]. Thus, in the Russian higher education market, technical institutes also encroach on classical universities and even outdo them.

However, the Expert RA table contains some features that distinguish the Russian higher education market from the Western one. The final ranking of domestic higher education establishments contains medical, liberal–arts, law, and socioeconomic universities. Note that it is SEUs that are really active and successful, which makes it possible to consider them as a third element in the domestic model of higher education. The SEU segment makes the Russian higher education market more diverse and less predictable compared to the situation in Western countries.

An illustration of the above is the places of socio economic higher education establishments in the RA Expert rating. Thus, 5th place belongs to the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia; 6th, to the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE); 11th, to the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA); 13 th, to the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation (Financial University); 23rd, to the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics (PRUE); and 29th, to the Russian Foreign Trade Academy of the Ministry for Economic Development of Russia. By the quality of education, some SEUs occupy even higher places: MGIMO is in 2nd place; HSE, in 5th; RANEPA, in 9th; and the Financial University, in the 11th [3]. At present, the above higher education establishments occupy unique positions in the Russian education system. For example, RANEPA is the largest (by the number of students) and the most career–promoting higher education establishment of the country, MGIMO has been the most expensive (in terms of tuition) higher educational institution for many years, and HSE is traditionally viewed as the most prestigious.

Such a high–ranking status of SEUs is utterly atypical of Western countries. For example, only one SUE, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), is listed in the THE rating (34th place in 2015). Note, however, that since 1900 LSE has been a division of a more powerful structure, the University of London, which comes under the status of a classical university. Thus, strictly speaking, LSE is merely a faculty of a British CU and not an independent higher educational establishment, although it enjoys a high degree of autonomy. The Paris School of Economics (PSE), founded in 2005, is a conglomerate (consortium) of economic research divisions of various French institutes and universities; hence, this association is not an independent university. We can also mention the Toulouse School of Economics, which is part of Toulouse 1 University; although, since the moment of its formation in 2007, it has been the university’s flagship and continues to grow, it can hardly claim the status of an independent university. An independent specialized higher educational establishment is the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), founded in 1909, which has opened numerous sister organizations in various countries. Meanwhile, it is a relatively small institution (no more than 2000 students), which does not claim the role of a full–fledged university.

The parameters of the above Western schools are incomparable with the indicators of Russian establishments of higher economic education. For example, HSE has 107 research institutes and centers, 32 scientific–college and project–college laboratories, 24 international laboratories under the supervision of leading foreign scientists, 28 faculties and branches in Moscow, and a reserve officer training department; in addition, there are six faculties and branches in its St. Petersburg campus, five in Nizhny Novgorod, and three in Perm’. The number of HSE students in 2017 amounted to about 32 000. Here are other examples: in 2015, 17500 students graduated from the Financial University; RANEPA is officially the largest SEU in Russia and Europe, teaching 207 000 students. For the sake of comparison: by the number of students, RANEPA surpasses the Swedish SSE by 109 times. Therefore, Russian SEUs are a unique phenomenon in world practice.

To emphasize the fundamental difference of Russian SEUs in terms of scale, let us draw attention to the fact that in 2012 the Moscow State Institute of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM) joined HSE. Interestingly, the Financial University also claimed to adjoin this institute; having failed in the competition with HSE, it adjoined the Moscow State College of Informatics and Electronic Engineering (2011). Thus, domestic SEUs seek to go beyond their initial professional boundaries, turning into a kind of analogue of classical universities.

Note the following interesting fact. In the Expert RA rating, PRUE is the weakest among the country’s largest SEUs, occupying 23rd place. Yet 21st place is occupied by Sechenov University, the country’s strongest medical higher education institution [3]. In other words, even not extraordinarily strong domestic SEUs are at the level of the country’s best medical establish ments of higher education, which is an unprecedented fact by any standard.

 

The sources of the establishment and development of Russian SEUs

 

The segment of powerful SEUs in Russia has deep, largely unique, historical prerequisites. In our opinion, two important historical circumstances are noteworthy.

The first one is the establishment of some of the SEUs during the Soviet planned economy. This mode of management objectively implied not only the respective ideological substantiation but also various instrumental approaches to the stewardship of the economy. To this end, institutions such as PRUE, the State University of Management, and the Financial University (of course, under other names and with another functionality) were created. The war of 1941–1945 played a great role in the strengthening of SEUs. For example, in 1944, MGIMO was established on the basis of the Faculty of International Relations of Moscow State University; in 1954, it adjoined the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies and, in 1958, the Institute of Foreign Trade of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Trade, which significantly strengthened the economic direction. This powerful framework of SEUs was a unique phenomenon back in Soviet times.

The second circumstance is the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the transfer of Russia to the market economy. The need for urgent restructuring of the entire economy in line with new principles and the formation of a perfectly different management system required the creation of centers to develop a new ide ology and methodology, including the preparation of the respective specialists. To this end, two educational giants were created–HSE and RANEPA. In parallel, almost all old SEUs tried to strengthen their positions. In the 1990s, when the excess of engineers and short age of specialists in social trends became evident, the professions of economist, jurist, and manager became the most popular, giving a second wind to Russian SEUs. Of importance was also the fact that the course for the market economy led to the formation of a managerial elite, which shared the new market values. Therefore, power coalesced with the corps of economic ideologists, concentrating in leading SEUs. Owing to the closeness of the SEU leadership to governmental circles, the respective higher education establishments enjoyed colossal preferences. Let us illustrate this provision.

RANEPA was created on the basis of the Russian Academy of Public Administration (RAPA), which, in turn, had been formed on the basis of the Russian Academy of Management. Meanwhile, the latter had succeeded to the Academy of Social Sciences under the Central Committee of the Soviet Party, a higher party educational institution that prepared workers for central party establishments, the central committees of the union republics, and district and oblast commit tees of the Soviet Party, as well as teachers of higher education and scientific workers of research organizations and scientific journals. Owing to this “heritage,” the present-day RANEPA has a countrywide network of affiliates, which reside in the best buildings of various cities. In addition, RANEPA absorbed 12 other federal educational institutions and became unreachable for most higher education establishments. Finally, RANEPA is under the direct authority of the Russian President, enjoying thus an extremely high administrative status. This educational institution goes by the nickname “the foundry of ministers.”

An equally bright example of the effect of the market situation is HSE, which in 2006 received a magnificent complex of buildings in the center of Moscow from the Military Engineering Academy (MEA), which was joined to the Combined Arms Academy of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. The breakdown of the Soviet Union weakened the Russian Army, which made it possible to accomplish the astonishing castling of property between MEA and HSE. Continuing the trend toward the expansion of the university’s real estate, in 2014 HSE’s Rector Ya.I. Kuz’minov became for this purpose a deputy of the Moscow City Duma of the Sixth Convocation. At present, HSE is lobbying for the allocation of new areas for its needs in the capital. Like RANEPA, HSE has accomplished numerous mergers with other higher education establishments and is the champion by the number of administrative statuses: it is under the authority of the Russian government, is a national research university (NRU), and is among the international education centers (IECs) that claim to be included in the Top 100 of global university rankings. Using the close ness of its leadership to the government, HSE invariably enjoys unprecedented financial support from the state. It is enough to recall the little–known fact that in the early 2000s HSE received more budgetary funds for its library than all other domestic higher education establishments taken together. It is no wonder that HSE’s library is one of the best in the country by both paper and electronic stocks.

A similar situation is observable with the Financial University, the main building of which on Leningradskii prospekt in Moscow before 1991 belonged to the Institute of Social Sciences of the Central Committee of the Soviet Party–a party educational and scientific establishment, created to train students from foreign communist parties and left radical movements, including illegal ones. In the 1990s, after the liquidation of the Institute of Social Sciences, this building housed the Gorbachev Foundation and then was handed over to the Financial University. In 2011–2012, the Financial University adjoined other higher education establishments, including the All–Russia State Distance–Learning Institute of Finance and Economics (ARDLIFE), which allowed the university to acquire a countrywide network of affiliates in about 20 cities. Importantly, its status as an establishment under the Russian government guarantees, among other things, one of the most serious portfolios of research topics within the state assignments.

Today the historical prerequisites of the rise of SEUs have largely been exhausted; the cluster of the most powerful higher education establishments of this profile has been formed and will not expand further. Nevertheless, there are new claimers that are ready to struggle for leading positions in the national ratings. For example, in 2016, the Russian Foreign Trade Academy (RFTA) merged with two research organizations–the Institute of Macroeconomic Research and the Council for the Study of Productive Forces (SOPS). In the future, this amalgamation will allow RFTA to strengthen noticeably its positions and to ascend in the Expert RA rating by four to sixth positions.

In the 21st century, Russian SEUs have been in the vanguard of all institutional reforms. For example, from 2007, the most advanced higher education establishments began to create university endowments (UEs). Back at that stage, a specific trend emerged: the pioneers of endowments were Russian social studies–oriented higher educational institutions: the New Economic School (NES), MGIMO, the Financial University, and the HSE. Leading TIs and CUs turned out to be slow starters and took this road five to seven years later: Yeltsin Ural Federal University (UrFU) in 2012, Moscow State University in 2013, and MIPT in 2014. This is readily explainable: the professional orientation of SEUs and the involvement of their managers in key economic decisions allowed them to find themselves on the crest of the forming institutional wave [4].

All the above–described historical circumstances, which determined the rise of SEUs, constitute the basis of the nontraditional model of the success of higher education institutions of this category. Today this factor is almost exhausted. Moreover, it has already been decided at the government level to grant primary support to technical higher education establishments and specialties. In the long term, this political maneuver is bound to weaken SEUs, but the new priority has not become visible thus far.

 

The competition of SEUs through the prism of the ranking of Russian higher economic schools

 

In 2015, the Financial University launched a project on the creation of a series of academic rankings in the field of economic science. They include the Higher Economic School Ranking (HESR) of Russia [5]. Recall that the HESR shows the publication activity of the country’s best journals, which comprise the so–called Diamond List [6]. Note that the Diamond List changes every year, reflecting the competition in the academic market of economics journals. Unlike parameters such as tuition, the career growth of graduates, the scale of studies in monetary terms, etc., the HESR shows the strictly scientific potential of SEUs, which is manifested in their presence in the scientific information space. According to the universally recognized point of view, the larger the presence, the better the higher education establishment is, because it generates more articles, ideas, and developments in the most authoritative and widely read periodicals.

The idea to rank universities by their publishing activity is not new: attempts to make rankings based on this indicator are widespread in foreign practice. For example, in 1977, Indiana University compiled a ranking of psychology faculties of American colleges and universities, which was based on the number of articles published by each teacher of a higher education establishment from 1970 through 1975 in 13 journals funded by the American Psychological Association [7]. In 1979, a ranking of 100 US leading faculties of political science was issued, which was calculated by the number of articles per teacher published in the period 1968–1977 [8]. The impact factor of the journals placed in the EconLit electronic bibliography of world economic literature is the basis for ranking individuals and universities in B. Baltagi’s econometric rankings [9].

The practice to “coordinate” the rankings of journals with those of faculties of economics traces its roots to the mid-1970s, when the first overall ranking of economics journals and faculties was compiled [10]. This process was determined by the increased popularity of economic science and the desire of higher education institutions to employ highly professional neoclassical theorists, including those who published their works in leading economics journals. This symbiosis of academic journals and higher education establishments has led to the fact that by now more than 40% of the science editors of US leading journals have received doctoral degrees at 24 leading faculties of economics and 43% teach at them; in this context, practically all these faculties have a representative in leading periodicals [10].

The most widespread are several economics faculty academic rankings based on the publishing activity of the faculties’ associates. In particular, the University of Texas at Dallas ranks the best business schools in the world in the form of the UTD Top 100 Business School Research Rankings (UTD–BSRR) by calculating publications in 24 leading business journals over the previous five years [11].

Since 2004, the Ranking of the Center for Research in Economics and Business of Tilburg University has been published, the university annually preparing the Top 100 Tilburg University Economics Ranking (TUER). Its algorithm includes the same ranking procedure, which depends on the degree of the publishing activity of the associates of respective university faculties. Note that it accounts only for original articles (without discussions, comments, etc.) and the fact that an author belongs to a concrete faculty as of the date of the article’s publication. If an article has several coauthors, this gives no additional points to the higher education establishment [12].

Since 2005, Texas A&M University jointly with the University of Florida has annually been assessing the productivity of the faculties of management of US and Canadian universities in the Management Department Productivity Rankings (MDPR) by the number of publications in eight leading journals on management: Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Organization Science, Personnel Psychology, and Strategic Management Journal [13].

The ASU Finance Rankings, which have been developed by Arizona State University (ASU) since 1990, rank the faculties of finance of leading universities of the world and rest on the same methodology as the previous ratings. The ASU ranking is based on consideration of the number of articles published in four leading finance journals: Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Journal of Financial Economics, and the Review of Financial Studies [14].

The practice of compiling such symbiotic rankings is not widespread in Russia thus far. Even though the process of compiling economics journal rankings has become more active in recent years [15, 16], they have practically not been used to assess higher education establishments. Thus, we can say that the HESR project remains unique in the Russian practice of ranking economics universities. Today the HESR makes it possible to analyze information of four rating waves (years). Table 1 shows the data of the HESR Top 10 for different years; the full–scale version of the ranking is available at [17]. The data in Table 1 allow us to make several important conclusions concerning the character of the competitive processes that are developing in the SEU market.

First, the unquestionable leader is the HSE, which by rating points is about two times higher than the next educational institution. This substantial gap shows that the leadership of the HSE will most likely be secure in the foreseeable future.

Second, even the Top 10 list is extremely heterogeneous. For example, the higher education establishment ranked as tenth has a rating position about ten times lower than that of the leader of the list. This shows a kind of oligopoly in the SEU market, when five or six leaders are, in fact, unreachable for all other higher education establishments of the country; real competition is for the second five places of the Top 10 list.

Third, violent competition is observed even among the first five, which regularly undergoes inner alternations. For example, the Financial University and RANEPA switched places over four years: the Financial University descended from second place to fifth, while RANEPA, vice versa, ascended from fifth to second. This fact alone shows the sharpness of the struggle between higher education institutions with the highest administrative status. At present, we can say that RANEPA has justly won its second place and will most likely keep it. Moreover, in 2016, its lag from the HSE by rating point was the least over the entire HERS period, less than two times. Considering that the growth of this indicator in recent years has annually been by 6 p.p. on average, the gap between RANEPA and the leader in the person of HSEs will become minimal in three years. Thus, RANEPA is quite visible as the future leader of SEUs; it is possible that it will steal leadership from HSEs in the decades to come. A serious struggle is unfolding between the country’s two powerhouses–Moscow State University and St. Petersburg State University; they also have “castled” third and fourth places, the former winning and the latter losing. Thus, within the Top 5 SEUs, the Financial University and St. Petersburg State University have somewhat deteriorated in their positions, which points to certain omissions of the managements of these two universities in implementing the strategy of academic research.

The situation in the second five SEUs is even less stable. For example, in contrast with the stable position of PRUE, Southern Federal University has liter ally burst into the Top 10 and entrenched itself among leading higher education institutions. At the same time, MGIMO’s academic positions have somewhat weakened, while Ural State University of Economics and Perm’ State University have covered a long road to enter the Top 10. The success of NES is even more impressive; despite its modest size and private owner ship, it consistently and quite effectively storms the Top 10. At the opposite pole are powerful agrarian universities, Russian Timiryazev State Agrarian University and Stavropol’ State Agrarian University, which have failed to secure their positions in the Top 10.    All this shows that even the short list of the best SEUs has not yet stabilized, let alone ranking inside it. We can state that competitive processes in the SEU market are only gaining momentum.

Note the following important aspect of the observable competition between SEUs, namely, its administrative character. We see that the first five higher education establishments from the Top 10 have the highest administrative status owing to the direct patronage of the Russian government. Earlier, the literature already noted a characteristic feature of the Russian market of universities: the administrative success of a university gradually materializes into its academic success [18]. Table 1 fully confirms this conclusion. This circumstance makes it possible to state that the ranking of the first five higher education establishments will probably undergo rearrangements, but its composition will most likely remain the same.

 

Table 1. Ranking of higher economic schools of Russia

No.

Top 10

2013
(127)

2014
(76)

2015
(57)

2016
(97)

1

National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE)

1*
(100.0)

1
(100.0)

1
(100.0)

1
(100.0)

2

Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)

5
(27.1)

3
(42.0)

2
(47.4)

2
(54.8)

3

Moscow State University

4
(33.0)

4
(34.9)

5
(28.4)

3
(43.0)

4

St. Petersburg State University

3
(38.6)

5
(26.0)

4
(33.6)

4
(35.6)

5

Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation (Financial University)

2
(52.6)

2
(47.9)

3
(45.1)

5
(33.9)

6

Plekhanov Russian University of Economics (PRUE)

6
(15.1)

6
(17.9)

6
(19.9)

6
(20.6)

7

Southern Federal University (SFU)

15
(5.9)

7
(9.9)

10
(8.1)

7
(19.8)

8

Ural State University of Economics (USUE)

19
(3.5)

34
(1.9)

8
(14.2)

9

Perm’ State University

57
(1.9)

22
(3.1)

41–48
(1.3)

9
(10.3)

10

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO)

8
(8.1)

8
(8.4)

8
(8.7)

10
(10.1)

11

Voronezh State University

14
(5.9)

7
(9.4)

12

St. Petersburg State University of Economics

7
(10.0)

10
(8.1)

12
(7.1)

16
(7.3)

13

New Economic School (NES)

18
(5.4)

27
(2.6)

9
(8.4)

17
(7.0)

14

Russian Timiryazev State Agrarian University

9
(7.7)

41–66
(2.3)

15

Stavropol’ State Agrarian University

10
(7.5)

*The first number in this column shows the place of a higher education institution in the ranking; the second (in brackets), the rating point.

 

A success factor of SEUs: Organization of research

 

A major factor of the academic success of SEUs is how a higher education establishment organizes its scientific work. However, to engage this factor, a higher education institution should have good funding and a high administrative status. Yet far from all Russian higher education establishments can organize their scientific work correctly even if they do have the above advantages.

By scientific work, we mean research activity of associates of a higher education institution that is systematically conducted in its scientific divisions–institutes, centers, departments, and laboratories. Associates in these structural divisions focus exclusively on research, which predetermines their higher scientific productivity compared to university teachers, who pursue science on a leftover basis, when they are not delivering lectures. Higher education institutions with a powerful network of scientific divisions enjoy certain advantages to generate scientific innovations. Respectively, one of the trends in the competition of large SEUs is organization of research.

As is evident from Table 3, some SEUs actively use their privileged position and exploit scientific divisions, thus strengthening their dominance in the market. For example, RANEPA’s best publications are mainly provided by researchers and not by teachers. About half of HSE’s publication potential is also produced by scientific divisions; for the Financial University, this share is approximately one–fourth. No doubt the presence of scientific divisions in the structure of a higher education establishment and, consequently, the presence of scientific orders and research projects underlie its high academic activity.

 

Table 2. Rating potential of the leading journals of higher education institutions

No.

University

2013

2014

2015

2016

1

HSE

1*
(66.6)

3
(258.5)

3
(221.6)

2
(128.5)

2

St. Petersburg State University

2
(144.2)

1
(99.0)

2
(147.4)

1
(52.8)

3

Moscow University for Industry and Finance “Synergy” (Synergy University)

1
(70.4)

1
(81.2)

1
(77.4)

1
(52.6)

4

SFU

1
(76.5)

1
(68.2)

1
(55.8)

5

RANEPA

1
(76.1)

1
(68.1)

1
(52.9)

*The first number in this column shows the number of journals of a higher education establishment in the Diamond List; the second (in brackets), their aggregate rating point.

 

 

The data in Table 4 confirm this conclusion: higher education institutions with a high academic activity have rather impressive networks of scientific divisions. Note that Moscow State University has practically completed the formation of its science-organization component, while the largest SEUs continue to increase and modify it. Moreover, many SEUs have accomplished truly revolutionary transformations. For example, the HSE and the Financial University have liquidated faculty departments and, instead of these relatively small educational units, introduced larger departments. As for scientific divisions, universities are actively looking for effective models of building them in their general structure. For example, in the HSE and RANEPA, most scientific divisions work as independent units within larger scientific formations–institutes, departments, and so on. The Financial University has switched from this model to the distribution of scientific centers over university departments. In any case, observable is active experimentation with scientific divisions, which act as the drivers of academic activities in leading SEUs.

Note that many domestic higher education establishments, including some SEUs, lack scientific divisions altogether. Such institutions specialize in educational services, an insignificant volume of research under state orders and commercial contracts being conducted by university teachers; laboratories and centers may be virtual divisions, where teachers work as researchers on a half-time and even quarter–time basis. At the same time, it is safe to say that higher education establishments claiming the role of research universities with a high academic activity must have a permanent staff of researchers and the respective scientific divisions.

Just like with publication activity, the presence of scientific divisions in the structure of SEUs implies a serious restructuring of a university’s managerial culture. The point is that the need for a systematic load for researchers requires a high activity of the university management in looking for and concluding agreements on studies at the expense of extrabudgetary funds. This activity sanitizes relations inside SEUs, allowing managers and researchers to work together effectively. Higher education establishments that manage to construct rational models of this interaction demonstrate high academic activity; otherwise, they lose their positions with no chance to recover them.

 

A success factor of SEUs: Publishing initiatives

 

To understand how the Top 10 higher educational institutions ensure their leadership, let us consider the journals of the Diamond List. It turns out that almost all higher education establishments issue their own periodicals of a social profile, but only some of them accomplished international accreditation, meaning to be included in the Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus databases. Such journals are on the Diamond List, which determines scientific trends in Russian economic science. Table 2 shows that most specialized journals are concentrated in the HSE, with which four other higher educational establishments compete. It is no wonder that SEUs that publish leading journals can give a green light primarily to their own associates and, hence, claim dominance in the scientific information space.

 

Table 3. Share of researchers among the authors of articles in journals from the Diamond List, %

University

2015

2016

RANEPA

75.7

71.4

HSE

41.8

49.3

Moscow State University

31.8

27.9

Financial University

28.0

22.9

 

 

Table 4. Research divisions of leading higher education establishments of Russia

University

2017

2018

RANEPA

5 research institutes
52 scientific centers

5 research institutes
63 scientific centers, laboratories, and schools

HSE

31 research institutes
97 scientific centers
32 international laboratories
36 laboratories

27 research institutes
10 scientific centers
33 international laboratories
41 scientific laboratories

Moscow State University

12 research institutes
21 scientific centers

11 research institutes
22 scientific centers
92 scientific departments and laboratories

Financial University

4 research institutes
9 scientific centers

2 research institutes
26 scientific centers and laboratories

 

 

The data in Table 2 elucidate the unprecedented leadership of the HSE: in some years, it had three journals from the Diamond List, which almost automatically made it unreachable for potential competitors. For example, in 2013, the authors of all the articles published in Ekonomicheskii Zhurnal Vysshei Shkoly Ekonomiki (The HSE Economic Journal), which is permanently on the Diamond List, were HSE associates; for Terra Economicus, published by South ern Federal University, the share of publications by associates of the parent organization was 58.8% [6]. Thus, one of the competitive strategies of higher education institutions is the publication of high–quality economics journals, the maximal quota in which can be granted to the associates of a given university. Note, however, that this factor is gradually being exhausted. In order not to come into conflict with international standards, the HSE, for example, in 2018 established a quota of 25% for its associates in affiliated journals. Yet this figure is still quite weighty to support a higher education institution.

Overall, there are three most often expressed strategies in the market of scientific journals. As was already shown, the first is to capture the market of leading economics journals by organizing one’s own editions. Bright representatives of this strategy are HSE, RANEPA, St. Petersburg State University, and Southern Federal University. The second strategy is the active selective “assimilation” of others’ journals. For example, the pages of the most popular specialized journal Voprosy Ekonomiki (Problems of Economics) are practically divided between the HSE and RANEPA. Similarly, MGIMO has largely occupied the relevant journal Mirovaya Ekonomika i Mezhdunarodnye Otnosheniya (World Economy and International Relations). The third strategy is the wide promotion of articles in other journals. Such is the practice, for example, of Moscow State University, the associates of which appeared in all 13 journals from the Diamond List in 2016.

Higher education institutions combine the above strategies in various proportions. For example, the Financial University has tried to promote at once several journals into international databases, but this initiative implies dissipation of resources and requires time. RANEPA focused on obtaining international status for only one of its journals, Ekonomicheskaya Politika (Economic Policy), allocating financial and human resources for this purpose, which has allowed this periodical to enter WoS and Scopus within short a timeframe. The HSE actively uses all the three strategies–publishing initiatives of its own, the monopolization of some periodicals of others, and active penetration into almost all prestigious journals; it is this policy that allows it to hold leadership on a stable basis.

It is especially noteworthy that the publishing initiative of higher education institutions has a serious indirect potential of academic success. The point is that this drives nearly all SEU researchers to reach international standards and implies their heightened awareness of domestic periodicals that have already been certified abroad. This attitude is good for the quality of articles and is gradually realized in the growth of the publication activity of a higher education establishment in the best domestic editions.

A success factor of SEUs: Nontraditional models of management. In addition to the above factors of competition, almost all SEUs use nontraditional managerial knowhow, which allows them to strengthen their academic positions. Such innovations can be significant to a certain extent; hence, their total number is quite large. We will consider only three original initiatives as typical examples of how to strengthen the competitive positions SEUs in the market for higher education.

The first example concerns the transformation of a higher educational institution into a space where significant scientific events take place. In their struggle for the right to be viewed as an interesting platform for the academic community, almost all higher education establishments hold international conferences, congresses, and symposia; they may be both unimportant and significant. In this context, the main competition is for milestone scientific events. An example of organizing such an event is the Financial University, which launched a large–scale project of inviting Nobel laureates in Economics to read introductory lectures. These actions were supported by the billionaire M. Prokhorov, a graduate of the Financial University. Within this project, Russia was visited by Thomas Sargent, Lars Hansen, Robert Shiller, Christopher Pissarides, Angus Deaton, and other scientists. This humanitarian action attracted much public attention. Many scientists from other cities planned their visits to Moscow in advance for a lecture. The visits of Nobel laureates made headlines and, no doubt, enhanced the academic reputation of the Financial University.

The second example deals with an unprecedented action, the creation of a kind of a research holding, which united three organizations: RANEPA, the Russian Foreign Trade Academy of the Ministry for Economic Development of Russia, and the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy (IEP). This holding functions as a single entity when the question of the affiliation of associates who publish their works is solved depending on the current needs of the three organizations. Thus, the publication potential of each of the above structures can grow through the mutual “exchange” of affiliations. This fact is amazing, because RANEPA is under the direct patronage of the Russian president, RFTA is under the Ministry for Economic Development, and IEP is a private foundation. Importantly, RANEPA and IEP have a common endowment, which allows them to receive additional incomes. This holding in the person of RANEPA and IEP with the participation of the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia came forward with a largescale initiative to hold annually within the walls of RANEPA the Gaidar Forum, which is one of the most prestigious business events; it is known as the “Russian Davos” [19]. Undoubtedly, the authority and recognizability of RANEPA have increased by many times owing to the Gaidar Forum.

The third example relates to the formation of independent regional analytics, the niche of which remains empty in many districts of Russia. It is important who will be the first to enter and secure itself in this respective market. Currently, experts identify two megaplayers in the market of regional analytics: RANEPA and the HSE. It is these higher education institutions that were the first to assimilate this applied trend of economic analysis and are exclusive performers of commercial studies in Russian regions. For example, in the south of Russia, in the market of social analytics, there are 15–20 niche federal players and several analytical centers created by regional administrations [20]. However, all of them claim to conduct only smallscale special studies, while the most profitable orders go to the two megaplayers. The timely assimilation of applied segments of social analytics not only increases the scientific prestige of RANEPA and the HSE but also ensures their serious extrabudgetary incomes.

Similar examples are rather numerous, but the main point is that leading Russian SEUs actively look for and find techniques to increase their competitive ness. If traditional administrative tools lose their effectiveness, higher education institutions can generate new rounds of competition for many years to come.

In conclusion, let us note the following fact: in previous years, the university market of Russia was characterized by a wonderful paradox: against the back drop of quite a weak economy, the country formed a pool of surprisingly strong SEUs. Note that they not only preserved their capacity after the period of turbulence in the higher education market but even secured their status as the country’s most dynamic and authoritative universities. Moreover, in the past five to six years, they have made a colossal step forward in the formation of their positive scientific reputation.

At present, while the West is strengthening its sanctions against Russia and the global geopolitical situation is deteriorating, our country should solve the task of building a dynamic, high–tech, and diversified economy. Hopefully, during this period, leading Russian SEUs will take an active part in elaborating an effective strategy of economic development. They do have significant scientific potential.

 

References

 

1. E. V. Balatskii, “Managerial paradoxes of reforms in the Russian university sector,” Zh. Nov. Ekon. Assots., No. 2, 124–149 (2015).

2. The world university rankings 2018. https://www. timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/2018/world-ranking#!/page/0/length/25/sort_by/rank/sort_order/asc/cols/stats. Cited April 20, 2018.

3. https://raexpert.ru/project/vuz_rating/2017/ranking#3.Cited April 20, 2018.

4. E. V. Balatskii, University Endowments and the Competitiveness of Russian Higher Education Institutions (Buki Vedi, Moscow, 2017) [in Russian].

5. http://www.fa.ru/science/Pages/ratings.aspx.Cited April 20, 2018.

6. E. V. Balatskii and N. A. Ekimova, “Experience of ranking Russian economic journals,” Vopr. Ekon., No. 8, 99–115 (2015).

7. D. S. Webster, “Advantages and disadvantages of meth ods of assessing quality,” Change 1 (7), 20–24 (1981).

8. S. Ivanov and I. Volkova, “Which higher education institutions are smarter: Why academic ratings appear in the West,” Obraz. Politika, Nos. 7–8, 19–29 (2010).

9. B. Baltagi, “Worldwide econometric rankings,” Econ. Theory 23 (5), 952–1012 (2006).

10. F. S. Lee, “The ranking game, class, and scholarship in American mainstream economics,” Australasian J. Econ. Edu. 3, 1–41 (2006).

11. The UTD top 100 business school research rankings. http://jindal.utdallas.edu/the-utd-top-100-business-school-research-rankings/.Cited April 20, 2018.

12. The Tilburg University top 100 worldwide economics schools research ranking. https://econtop.uvt.nl/rank-inglist.php.Cited April 20, 2018.

13. Texas A&M/University of Georgia rankings of man agement department research productivity.

http://www.tamugarankings.com/rankings/2017-2/?utm_source=Mays+Fac-ulty/Staff/Ph.D.+Students+from+web-site&utm_campaign=886d49dc84-Mays+Week-ly_Oct_30_2017_&utm_me-dium=email&utm_term=0_82ed221d8e-886d49dc84-350033561&mc_cid=886d49dc84&mc_eid=37440a5407.Cited April 20,2018.

14. ASU finance research rankings. https://wpcarey.asu.edu/finance-degrees/finance-rankings. Cited April 20, 2018.

15. F. T. Aleskerov, D. N. Badgaeva, V. V. Pislyakov, I. A. Sterligov, and S. V. Shvydun, “An importance of Russian and international economic journals: A network approach,” Zh. Nov. Ekon. Assots., No. 2, 193–205 (2016).

16. A. Ya. Rubinshtein, N. A. Burakov, and O. A. Slavinskaya, Community of Economists and Russian Economic Journals (Sociological Measurements vs. Bibliometrics): A Scientific Paper (Institut Ekonomiki RAN, Moscow, 2017) [in Russian].

17. http://nonerg-econ.ru/cat/18/9/. Cited April 20, 2018.

18. E. V. Balatskii, “Administrative competition in the Russian market of higher economic education,” Ekon. Obr., No. 4, 12–23 (2013).

19. Gaidar forum: The forum concept. http://gaidarfo-rum.ru/about/concept/. Cited April 20, 2018.

20. V. Kozlov, Regional analytics as a communicative and interdisciplinary problem. https://www.drop-box.com/s/dsvstc25rga6xrn/Козлов.pdf?dl=0. Cited April 20, 2018.

 

Translated by B. Alekseev

 

 

 

 

Official link to the article:

 

Balatskii E.V., Ekimova N.A. Competition between Russian Socioeconomic Universities// «Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences», 2018, Vol. 88, No. 5, pp. 348–357.

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