Mirrors of the Economy

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

Yoshiko M. Herrera
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Mirrors of the Economy
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6050-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. List of Acronyms
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. Note on Translation and Transliteration
    (pp. xix-xx)
    (pp. 1-15)

    We live in an era of globalization—and of resistance to globalization. Although international institutions are multiplying in number, and ever more governments are committing to standardized norms of legal and economic organization, there is wide variation in compliance with international rules. Even as compliance with international norms and rules seems to be relentlessly increasing, seemingly good and efficient “best practices” find detractors all over the world—states, organizations, and bureaucrats who repudiate rules, resist or delay their implementation, subvert their intention, or just plain ignore them.

    Nowhere is the puzzle of compliance and rejection of international rules starker than...

  8. 1 A SYSTEM OF NATIONAL ACCOUNTS: The Postcommunist Transformation of Russian Statistics
    (pp. 16-43)

    The System of National Accounts is currently the only internationally recognized framework for national accounts in the world, and nearly all countries are in some stage of implementing it. Yet this has not always been the case. Only a few decades ago the SNA faced a seemingly formidable alternative, the Material Product System, used primarily by communist countries. The SNA itself is a relatively recent institution. Even so, it has no competition at present.

    In this chapter, I discuss the concept of national accounts, the SNA as a particular form of national accounting, and the MPS. I also examine key...

  9. 2 ACCOUNTING FOR IMPLEMENTATION: A Theory of Conditional Norms
    (pp. 44-63)

    The System of National Accounts (SNA) is a complex set of conventions for collecting, processing, and presenting economic data—an international institution for national accounts that renders economies legible and comparable. Yet implementation of the SNA varies significantly across countries. In developing an explanation for the implementation of the SNA in postcommunist states, we must address head on the question of institutional change in bureaucracies—that is, how to get national statistical offices to embrace and implement a different institution. Moreover, our analysis of the possibilities for institutional change depends on how we define institutions.

    I set the stage for...

  10. 3 ACCIDENTAL HEGEMONY: How the System of National Accounts Became an International Norm
    (pp. 64-93)

    The SNA is a massively ambitious institutional enterprise that—through a complex and lengthy series of rules on data definitions, classificatory schemes, methodology, and collection—aims to clarify the overall structure and dynamics of a country’s economy. As a single standardized system, it makes legible economic activity around the globe. Although countries continue to debate the content of the SNA, there is no alternative system and they no longer question the value of a single, comprehensive international framework for national accounts. The SNA has become an unconditional norm.

    Today’s ostensible hegemony, however, masks the mutual constitution and contestation that defined...

    (pp. 94-109)

    Structural explanations suggest ways in which macro-level variables influence institutional change. In these theories, individual choice is constrained by factors that affect the larger entity in which the individual is situated, such as a bureaucratic organization, the state, or the international system—so much so that in explaining outcomes we need not focus on individual choices but on those larger structural entities.

    In this chapter, I discuss how theories of efficiency and structural changes in the economy may have influenced the move to the SNA and how they played out in Russia and at Goskomstat. Next I examine state-level variables...

  12. 5 CUI BONO? Politicians, Statisticians, and International Organizations in Russian Implementation of the SNA
    (pp. 110-136)

    In contrast to structural approaches, rationalist theories that focus on the role of specific actors direct us to consider the material interests of the bureaucrats on the ground, or those charged with implementing international institutions, and their relations with other political actors. In this chapter I consider these actor-centered theories by analyzing Goskomstat in light of the sources of institutional change implied by these theories.

    First, we have to consider changes in relations among actors—most notably, a change in the relationship between Goskomstat and politicians, societal actors, or international actors who seek to impose their interests on Goskomstat statisticians....

  13. 6 PROFESSIONALS IN THE SERVICE OF THE STATE: The Organizational Identity of Russian Statisticians
    (pp. 137-171)

    Valentin Kudrov captures the central question of this chapter when he writes, “It seems to me that the present Goskomstat in large measure preserves the frame of mind of the old USSR Central Statistical Administration and, having made some changes, has turned into a kind of mutant that has yet to restructure its work fully” (1993, 130). Social identities affect how actors understand the world, how they view others, what they aspire to do, how they do things, and where their interests lie. To understand why actors at Goskomstat committed so quickly to the SNA after decades of support for...

  14. 7 STATISTICS AS A MIRROR OF THE ECONOMY: The SNA as a Conditional Norm
    (pp. 172-200)

    In this chapter I continue the discussion of identity at Goskomstat but take the analysis in a different direction. Here I make a case that a critical variable in Russia’s move to the SNA was a conditional norm that specified the type of economy as a condition of the appropriateness of national accounting systems, with the SNA the appropriate national accounting system for market economies and the MPS appropriate for centrally planned economies. This argument builds on the discussion of identity content and contestation outlined in chapter 6: the tension created by conflicting shared goals and fractured relational comparisons contributed...

    (pp. 201-216)

    The story of institutional change at Goskomstat defies common perceptions of the intransigence of bureaucrats. By going inside the state and examining in depth what has happened at Goskomstat since the end of the USSR, we see that an apparently static, hierarchical, Soviet-type organization has actually been internally abuzz with change, spearheaded by people who are moved not by their meager salaries but by the idea of making Russian statistics legitimate and respected around the world. This is a story of the power of professional identities and norms and of the ingenuity of local actors who adapt those norms to...

  16. Appendix. SNA Milestone Assessment Guide
    (pp. 217-218)
  17. References
    (pp. 219-242)
  18. Index
    (pp. 243-252)