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The research of the Chair covers three main area.

  • First, we study the sub-national political variation in authoritarian regimes. How does the interaction between the central government and regional elites in autocracies work? What is the level of autonomy of sub-national governments? How do formal and informal incentives and practices influence the behavior of regional bureaucracies? How does the communication between the central and the regional elites function? The concepts of sub-national political regimes and “isles“ of democracy and autocracy are an important part of our research. We cover in particular developments in the Russian regions, yet some of the projects also look at other post-Soviet states.
  • Second, we investigate the international dimension of authoritarian rule and specifically cooperation of authoritarian regimes. Traditionally, the literature suggests that authoritarian regimes are incapable of successfully cooperating with each other due to the lack of credible commitments. We study conditions under which this cooperation is possible and the consequences of this cooperation for the regimes themselves and for international politics. Topics like autocracy diffusion and promotion are also important for us. In the post-Soviet world, we pay particular attention to studying the Eurasian Economic Union.
  • Third, our research covers the historical dimension of authoritarian regimes. Autocracies reproduce themselves over long historical periods of time and survive historical discontinuities like wars and revolutions. In the post-Communist world, authoritarian regimes are heavily influenced by the legacies of the Socialist past, but also to some extent by deeper historical legacies. Our research investigates the mechanisms of historical persistence and possible factors capable of dissolving these path dependencies.

In addition to these three main areas, we also study other aspects of authoritarian rule. Research at the Chair covers for example the interaction between the authoritarian state and the society, populism and the interrelation between populism and authoritarianism, development of post-Soviet social sciences (including academic misconduct), nationalism and nation-building, social mobility in post-Socialist societies, interaction of political and economic interests in autocracies etc.

The methodological focus of the Chair is in the area of quantitative research. We use both regional datasets and other data sources like survey data, lab and field experiments and firm-level data. Our quantitative studies are augmented by individual qualitative and mixed methods projects.

Our research was published in leading political science journals (World Politics, Comparative Political studies, Comparative Politics, Political Studies, Journal of Democracy, Studies in Comparative International Development, Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Review of International Political Economy, Review of International Organizations, Journal of Common Market Studies and International Affairs) and as monographs of leading university and commercial presses (Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Routledge, Palgrave MacMillan and Edward Elgar). Besides, we publish our work in reputable journals of other disciplines (Journal of Comparative Economics, Public Choice, European Journal of Political Economy, Energy Economics, Scientometrics and Social Science Research) and in Eastern European area studies journals (Europe-Asia Studies, Post-Soviet Affairs, Eurasian Geography and Economics, Post-Communist Economies, Russian Politics, Problems of Post-Communism and Communist and Post-Communist Studies). Some of the projects implemented at the Chair were funded by the German Research Foundation.