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Roadmaps of ISSEK Postgraduates

A number of events happened in late October – early November, important to HSE ISSEK members who combine their work with postgraduate studies (or did, or are about to begin).

Story 1: Inna Lola’s defence

On 1 November, 2017 Inna Lola was awarded a PhD in economics by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science order N1064/nk. Thus, Deputy Director of the HSE ISSEK Centre for Business Tendency Studies Inna Lola became the first postgraduate student to successfully complete her studies at the Instituter for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge Postgraduate School; she defended her thesis in Accounting and Statistics (Speciality 08.00.12) at the Higher School of Economics Council D 212.048.07 on 20 June, 2017.

The topic of Inna Lola’s thesis was “Survey-based statistical measurement of Russian small companies’ activities (case studies of wholesale and retail industries)”. Ludmila Kitrar, Deputy Director of the HSE ISSEK Centre for Business Tendency Studies, acted as academic supervisor.

Tells Inna Lola: “Just a few days ago I stumbled upon a popular quote by Isaac Newton: “I keep thinking about the subject of my study and patiently wait until the first glimpse gradually turns into bright, brilliant light”. And caught myself thinking that just a few years ago this seemingly simple idea wouldn’t have impressed me as much as it did now, if I never found “the subject of my study and waited patiently until…”

The subject of my thesis was decided upon in 2010-2011 when I was getting my second university degree, during the last years at the law faculty of the Public Administration Academy (now the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, RANEPA). The topic of the qualification essay I selected — “Specific features of individual entrepreneurs’ civil and legal status” — turned out to be symbolic and fateful. Working on my diploma, I discovered lots of nuances about entrepreneurial activities in Russia. I was amazed by the scale and variety of relevant legal practices, and the accumulated issues. So I definitely decided to focus my future work on this area, but in line with my main profile — economics.

Luckily, the bulk of research was directly related to my job. Since 2009, I work at the HSE ISSEK Centre for Business Tendency Studies headed by Georgy Ostapkovich, analysing, jointly with my colleagues, short-term economic trends displayed by large companies operating in various sectors of the Russian economy. Regular Rosstat surveys of entrepreneurs provide the empirical basis for our research. With Georgy Ostapkovich’s support, in 2012 I started to concentrate on sample surveys of small enterprises specialising in retail and wholesale trade, construction, and industry. The results of my studies were first published in the “Business climate at small industrial, construction, and retail companies in the 1st quarter of 2013” bulletin, and in the paper “Post-crisis development trends of small Russian industrial companies” published in HSE’s Economic Journal. It became the official starting point of my four-year postgraduate studies at the ISSEK.

Works by the pleiad of outstanding researchers, economists and experts — winners of the Global FSF-NUTEK award for entrepreneurial studies served as reference points for my studies, and the results of the international Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) project, which currently comprises 70 countries. Analysis of existing techniques for measuring small businesses’ activities and development trends revealed that practically all over the world various composite indicators were applied for these purposes – which provide valuable short-term information for estimating growth in specific industries, and remain a necessary condition for development of national economies.

In the second chapter of my thesis I presented a methodology for building a system of short-term composite indicators which would allow to regularly analyse business environment, measure Russian companies’ sustainability and susceptibility to various shocks. It also comprises innovative statistical tools which extend opportunities for visualising business survey data for information and analytical purposes. The suggested techniques were applied in the course of developing Business Russia’s Federal Entrepreneurial Sentiment Barometer, and in the study “Monitoring industrial, retail, and wholesale companies” commissioned by the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade in 2014.

The third chapter presents a method for setting up a statistical information resource comprising an extended range of simple and composite indicators for measuring various aspects of small businesses’ operations. The techniques and approaches suggested in this section provided the basis for a study of small business development trends conducted in the scope of the HSE Basic Research Programme, topics “Monitoring business climate in the real sector and the service industry” and “Monitoring business trends and entrepreneurial behaviour in various sectors of the Russian economy”.

The four years of post-graduate studies have certainly provided priceless experience, which I hope to build on in my future research work.

Story 2: Third-level university diplomas

On 31 October, several HSE post-graduate students for the first time received diplomas certifying their completion of the third (postgraduate) level of higher education. Among them were Alena Nefedova, Junior Research Fellow at the HSE ISSEK Laboratory for Economics of Innovation, and Yuri Voynilov, a former member of the HSE ISSEK Centre for Statistics and Monitoring of Education. The postgraduate studies for him included not just writing a thesis but also completing an educational programme which involved an attestation exam. Their dissertations are ready (or almost ready), and will be defended during the current academic year.

Tells Alena Nefedova: “The topic of my work is “Russian higher education exports: specific features of emergence and structuring of demand”. Several countries launched special programmes to increase international competitiveness of their national education systems during the previous decade, among them Russia: in 2013 it began implementing the “5-100” project aimed at promoting Russian education on the global market. Furthermore, this year the priority project “Increasing export potential of the Russian education system” started off, with the objective to increase the number of full-time foreign students at Russian secondary and higher professional education organisations from the current 200 thousand to 710 thousand in 2025.

My thesis tries to answer the following questions: why foreign students choose to study in Russia? How does demand for Russian higher education emerge in the international market, what is its structure, and what role does the state play in this process? Using three leading Russian universities as case studies, I compare various strategies for attracting foreign students. The study is based on personally collected unique empirical data, and I hope its results would be useful to managers responsible for internationalisation of universities.

Yuri Voynilov in his study “The concept of social act in George Herbert Mead’s sociology: historical analysis and systemic reconstruction” updates the intellectual legacy of the prominent American philosopher and sociologist in line with present-day realities.

Yuri Voynilov explains: “A social act is an action or a gesture which only becomes meaningful in a society, i.e. involves performing a social role. Unlike ordinary acts, a social act requires at least two people, and implies a reaction by others.

Mead’s approach stresses creative nature of such acts, and their nonlinear execution. My hypothesis is that Mead’s social acts theory has a large heuristic potential, and matches the results of neural scientists’ studies of human interaction quite well”.

Story 3: Exponential growth

In 2017, four students from the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge were admitted to HSE postgraduate school’s Economics department. Thus, the number of postgraduate students affiliated with the ISSEK has literally grown exponentially. Out of the four, research assistants Valeriya Vlasova and Alena Starodubtseva will be studying economics, and Yaroslav Eferin and Nikolay Chichkanov — management. Valeria and Yaroslav graduated this year from the ISSEK English-language Master’s programme “Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation” (launched in 2014).

In fact, more first-year post-graduate ISSEK-affiliated students were actually admitted by HSE, namely seven. Another 2017 graduate of the ISSEK Master’s programme, Anastasia Popova, will continue her post-graduate studies in education at the HSE Institute of Education, while Nawaid Alam who took part in the World Youth and Students Festival in Sochi was referred to the Management postgraduate school by the Strategic Marketing department. Galina Volkova, research assistant at the ISSEK Department for Human Capital Research, was admitted by the Sociology postgraduate school (referred by the social sciences faculty).

And though first-year post-graduate students will be officially enrolled in December, we may already congratulate them with admittance.

We’d also like to congratulate the protagonists of our first two stories which started off this news.