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Variations of Governance in Hybrid Regimes: Business, State and Civil Society in contemporary Russia



The project examines the relations between companies, state actors, and NPOs in Russian regions against the background of increasing authoritarianism.


Russian companies need to legitimize themselves in a twofold way: On the one hand, they are confronted with the expectations of governors, municipalities, and employees to fulfil social, cultural, or infrastructural tasks in their operation areas. These activities are usually framed as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). On the other hand, large companies are tightly integrated into the power vertical of the authoritarian regime, which draws on business to improve its policy output and bolster its output legitimacy. Despite the increasing intervention of Russian authorities into the economic sphere, companies are part of a mutual, albeit asymmetric resource exchange with state actors and (loyal) non- profit organizations (NPOs), in which all three sides pursue their respective interests. The findings of the project reveal that Soviet legacies have sustained the multifunctional role of Russian enterprises in providing public goods and social welfare. They are still relevant in that they shape the expectations of regional authorities and the population towards the companies as social welfare providers. The patterns of resource exchange found in this project, however, reveal novel regional patterns of state-business-relations, in which (loyal) NPOs are involved as new actors, while companies use novel contractual and financing arrangements. Thereby, informal patronage networks and the formal institutionalization of triadic resource exchange is compatible and mutually reinforcing. The motives for and regional patterns of institutionalization are the core interest of this research project, which, in theoretical terms, links strands of research on authoritarianism, welfare states, and corporate sociology to each other.

Scientific Publications

1. Klimovich, S. & Kropp, S. (2022). Federal regression and the authoritarian turn in Russia. In S. Keil & S. Kropp (Eds.), Emerging Federal Structures in the Post-Cold War Era (pp. 73–94). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-03093669-3_4.

2. Bluhm, K. & Kropp, S. (2023). Introduction to the symposium “Asymmetrical resource exchange. Business, state and social welfare provision in Russian regions”. East European Politics, 39(1), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1080/21599165.2023.2183498.

3. Kropp, S., Klimovich, S. & Pape, U. (2022). Legitimation strategies of Russian companies: a bricolage of social responsibility. East European Politics, 39(1), 15–38. https://doi.org/10.1080/21599165.2022.2134122. (Symposium).

4. Pape, U., Klimovich, S. & Bluhm, K. (2022). Formal contracting and state–business relations in Russia. A case study from Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug. East European Politics, 39(1), 57–79. https://doi.org/10.1080/21599165.2022.2155948. (Symposium).

5. Klimovich, S., Kropp, S. & Pape, U. (2023). Defending business interests in Russia: collective action and social investments as bargaining chips. Post-Communist Economies, 35(1), 17–40. https://doi.org/10.1080/14631377.2022.2104505.

6. Klimovich, S. & Bluhm, K. (2024). Beyond cronyism: Local governance and welfare provision by large companies in Russian monotowns. Europe-Asia Studies (accepted)

7. Bender, B., Bluhm, K., Klimovich, St., Kropp, S., Pape, U. & Wagemann, C. (2023) Why are state-business relations formalized in Russia’s authoritarian regime? A settheoretic analysis. Comparative Political Studies (under review).

8. Klimovich, S., Pape, U. & Siewert, M. (2023). Before the sanctions: How firms in Russia institutionalize Corporate Social Responsibility. A fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis. Journal of International Business Policy (submitted).

9. Fröhlich, C. (2023) NGO-Business relations in Russia: Institutional embeddedness in an authoritarian regime context. Nonprofit Policy Forum (open access) (submitted).

10. Pape, U. (2023) Russian business and the authoritarian welfare State: Corporate Social Programs as legitimation for companies and the state. Communist and PostCommunist Studies (submitted).

11. Bluhm, K., Dąbrowska, E. & Brand, M. (2024). Beyond energy rents. Russia’s conflicting growth strategies, constrained welfare state, and a non-dynamic growth regime. Hassel, A. & Palier, B. (Eds.) Growth strategies and welfare reforms: How nations cope with economic transitions. Oxford: Oxford University Press (accepted).

12. Kropp S., Bender, B. & Wagemann, C. How far can concepts travel? (In Bearbeitung).

13. Kropp, S. & Bluhm, K. (guest editors) (2023). Asymmetrical resource exchange. Business, state and social welfare provision in Russian regions. East European Politics, 39(1).

Further publications and published results (* peer reviewed)

1.Pape, U. & Klimovich, S. (2019). Gesellschaftliche Unternehmensverantwortung abseits der gewohnten Pfade: Wie Staat und Wirtschaft in Russland zusammenarbeiten. Russland-Analysen, 376, 2–5. https://doi.org/10.31205/RA.376.01.

2.Pape, U. (2019) Die Entwicklung der Zivilgesellschaft im europäischen Vergleich, in: Kordesch, R.M., Wieland J. & Ebertz, M.E. (Hrsg.), Die Arbeit der Zivilgesellschaft (pp. 31-47), Weilerswist-Metternich 2018: Velbrück Wissenschaft.

3. Klimovich, S. & Pape, U. (2020). Business-State Relations and the Role of Corporate Social Responsibility in Russia’s Regions. Russian Analytical Digest (RAD), 254, 7–11. https://doi.org/10.3929/ethz-b-000421074.

4.Toepler, S., Pape, U. & Benevolenski, V. (2020) Subnational variations in governmentnonprofit relations: A comparative analysis of regional differences within Russia. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 22(1), 47-65, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13876988.2019.1584446 (*)

5. Pape, U. & Skokova, Y. (2022) Nonprofit advocacy in Russia’s regions, Journal of Civil Society, 18:1, 1-22. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17448689.2022.2061545. (*)

6. Klimovich, S. (2023). Variation of principal-agent relations in Russian federal autocracy. Regional & Federal Studies, 1–25. https://doi.org/10.1080/13597566.2023.2195640. (*)

7. Klimovich, S. (2023). Mind the Gap between the governor and the people: The common agency problem in Russian authoritarian federalism. Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 53(2), 301–324. https://doi.org/10.1093/publius/pjad001. (*)

8. Khmelnitskaya, M., Sätre, A., & Pape, U. (2023). Flexible authoritarian governance in Russia: The politics of ideas on family policy. Advance online publication on Project MUSE. https://www.muse.jhu.edu/article/878549.

Conference Papers

  1. Kickoff-Workshop, 5-6. Juli 2018, Berlin.

2. Klimovich, S. “Shifting the Boundaries between State and Business: How the Russia Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Uses Social Investments as Bargaining Chips”. Workshop „Unternehmen und NGOs in der russischen Regionalpolitik“, FU Berlin, 29.05.2019.

3. Pape, U. Towards sustainable development. Russian Business and the Sustainable Development Goals, Panel “Russian CSR and Sustainability Agenda”, International HSE April Conference, 10.04.2019.

4. Pape, U. How business associations shape policy making in Russia. The use of social responsibility strategies in state-business negotiations, Panel “Organized Civil Society and Policy Processes in the Post-Soviet Space”, Dreiländerkonferenz SVPW, DVPW, ÖVPW, ETH Zürich, 13.02.2019.

5. Pape, U., Klimovich, S., Bluhm, K. Business-State Interaction in Russia’s Regions. An Analysis of Socio-Economic Cooperation Agreements, Workshop “The Varieties of Power in the Economy”, Laboratory for Studies in Economic Sociology, NRU Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, 03.07.2020.

6. Pape, U. Providing welfare at the periphery: Business companies and local populations in Russia, International Research Conference “Interaction. Integration. Inclusion” International Laboratory for Social Integration Research, National Research University Higher School of Economics, 21.12.2020.

7. Klimovich, S. & Pape, U. “The Institutionalization of Corporate Social Responsibility in Russian Firms. A Qualitative Comparative Analysis”. ZOiS Forschungskolloquium, ZOiS, 12.02.2020.

8. Klimovich, S. “Variation of Principal-Agent Relations in Russian Federalism”. Paper presented at the session “Comparative Federalism”. 2022 APSA Annual Meeting and Exhibition, Montréal, Québec, Canada, 15.09.2022.

9. Pape, U. Corporate Philanthropy and Social Development in Russia's Regions, International Society for Third Sector Research Conference 2022, Panel: Philanthropy in Ukraine, Russia, and Africa, Montréal, Québec, Canada, 14.07.2022.

10. Pape, U. Russian companies as welfare providers, BASEES Annual Conference

2022, Roundtable: Governance in Russia: Development, Welfare and Rights in Russian Regions, 09.04.2022.

11. Klimovich, S. “Towards a theory of authoritarian federalism”. Workshop „Neue Forschungsthemen im Bereich Föderalismus & Multilevel Governance“, RWTH Aachen, 25.02.2023.

12. Kropp, S. Why are state-business relations formalized in Russia’s authoritarian regime? A set-theoretic analysis (by B. Bender, K. Bluhm, S. Klimovich, S. Kropp, U. Pape & C. Wagemann); Paper presented at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference, Chicago, April 13-16, 2023.

Published Datasets

1.Klimovich, S. Kropp, S. & U. Pape (2021): Defending business interests in Russia, v. 1.0, Discuss Data, <doi:10.48320/16F2EEA0-CE81-4EE3-98A4-776F2CCD539C>.

2. Bluhm, K., Klimovich, S. & U. Pape (2021): Socio-Economic Cooperation Agreements and State-Business Relations in Russia’s Regions, v. 1.0, Discuss Data, <doi:10.48320/066142C8-FD21-4FD4-8200-FFE78E6B8561>.

3. Khmelnitskaya, M., Pape, U. & A.-M. Sätre (2023): Flexible authoritarian governance in Russia, v. 1.1, Discuss Data, <doi:10.48320/AEEF0049-4A02-4BDA- 8A86ADB1B460B7B1>.

4. Pape, U. (2023): Corporate Grant Competitions and Corporate Volunteering in Russian Regions, v. 1.0, Discuss Data, <doi:10.48320/82DDC287-A22C-44C6- 8FCEF2B17D31D0AD>.

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