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Mirrors of the Economy: National Accounts and International Norms in Russia and Beyond
     

Mirrors of the Economy: National Accounts and International Norms in Russia and Beyond

by Yoshiko M. Herrera
 

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As international institutions multiply and more governments sign on to standardized ways of organizing economies and societies, resistance to globalization persists. In Mirrors of the Economy, Yoshiko M. Herrera explores the variance in implementation of international institutions through an examination of the international System of National Accounts (SNA

Overview

As international institutions multiply and more governments sign on to standardized ways of organizing economies and societies, resistance to globalization persists. In Mirrors of the Economy, Yoshiko M. Herrera explores the variance in implementation of international institutions through an examination of the international System of National Accounts (SNA), and, in particular, the success of post-Soviet Russia and other formerly communist countries in implementing the SNA. The SNA is the basis for all national economic indicators, including Gross Domestic Product, and is therefore a critical institution for economic policy and development.

Herrera tests existing theories of implementation of international institutions and proposes a novel theoretical concept, "conditional norms," to suggest that the conditions attached to norms may result in institutional change. On the basis of content analysis of statistical publications and more than seventy-five interviews throughout Russia—particularly in Moscow—and in Washington she forms a clear picture of the implementation of SNA in Russia in the early 1990s. In Soviet times a stable conditional norm delineated the appropriateness of statistical institutions based on the structure of the economy. The transformation of the economic system triggered a shift in support among Russian and Eastern European statisticians in favor of the SNA. Herrera's argument increases our understanding of the role of norms, structural conditions, and professional communities in institutional implementation.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Herrera sets out to explain the speed and comprehensiveness of Russia's adoption of GDP accounting in the 1990s, a change that was critical for economic measurement and policy evaluation. . . . Her book proposes an innovative explanation in terms of conditional norms. In the belief system of Soviet statisticians, a socialist economy was best evaluated by material product accounting, and market economies by GDP. When Russia became a market economy, this conditional norm enabled them rapidly to adjust beliefs to new conditions. A textured narrative of rapid organizational reform carried out by insiders, Mirrors of the Economy is thoroughly grounded in the contemporary and historical literatures, complemented by many interviews with Russian principals."—Citation from the 2011 Ed A. Hewett Book Prize Committee

"Studying how Russia has changed the way it does its national economic accounting may sound dry, but it is far from so. On the contrary, given the impact that GDP statistics have on politics and policy choices -- sometimes including international politics -- how these are measured and reported has immense practical consequences. During the Soviet era, Russia and its neighbors used completely different metrics from those of the United Nations System of National Accounts (SNA), which from the 1950s onward slowly became the international standard. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Goskomstat—the old Soviet-era statistical agency, staffed with bureaucrats for whom the SNA was anathema—abruptly and thoroughly discarded its old system of accounting. How and why? Herrera believes that the old guard's bifurcated sense of norms (the SNA was for market-based economies; their system, for a command economy) was key. Once one economic order replaced another, so, logically, should one bookkeeping system replace another. This leads Herrera to make a much larger point concerning the way norms influence institutions and institutions influence norms. This she does deftly, adding convincing complexity to standard theory."—Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs (May/June 2011)

"This is an impressive accomplishment of international organization, writ small, and the story of how it took place is more than a contribution to understanding the Russian transition. The book makes a fascinating contribution to the field of international organization."—Randall W. Stone, The Russian Review (April 2014)

"Empirically rich and theoretically innovative, Mirrors of the Economy offers original insights into the interaction of domestic and international factors producing major institutional change."—Matthew Evangelista, President White Professor of History and Political Science, Cornell University

"Why would bureaucrats and policymakers embrace international norms? This sophisticated and innovative analysis of conditional norms in the transformation of the Soviet statistical system takes us well beyond the usual suspects of interests, institutional constraints, and identities. Mirrors of the Economy shows how actors themselves change norms and adopt new institutional solutions as more appropriate to changed circumstances. The result is a compelling study of the postcommunist state, bureaucratic decision making, and the interplay of international standards, regime transformation, and domestic agents."—Anna Grzymala-Busse, Ronald and Eileen Weiser Professor of European and Eurasian Studies, University of Michigan

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801478420
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
12/18/2012
Series:
Cornell Studies in Political Economy Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Yoshiko M. Herrera is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the author of Imagined Economies: The Sources of Russian Regionalism and coeditor of Measuring Identity: A Guide for Social Scientists.

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