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Ideology and Economic Change in Transition Countries

How did the beliefs of leaders determine the general direction of property reform and specific decisions within privatization in Eastern Europe? Where did the neoliberal beliefs that underpinned the choice to undertake a radical program of economic reform come from? Hilary Appel, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, looks to the international diffusion of neoliberal ideology and its role in shaping postcommunist transition.

Having studied privatization as a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, Appel has researched the political-economy of transition intensely, living more than two years in the region. Presently she is working on a book manuscript focusing on the role of ideology in the design of large-scale privatization in Eastern Europe and Russia. By examining privatization as an ideologically driven process, Appel hopes to challenge mainstream approaches in political-economy that focus on the economic interests of government and societal factors to explain the development of the property rights system. In her Athenaeum talk she will draw on her recent work and discuss the evolution and outcome of large-scale privatization in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Before joining the faculty of the Department of Government at Claremont McKenna College, Appel taught at Duke University and was a research scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center's Kerman Institute in Washington D.C. She has published numerous papers on postcommunist transition and given talks at several American and European Universities, the U.S. State Department, the Foreign Service Institute, and the Woodrow Wilson Center. Hilary Appel is the fourth speaker in a year long series at the Athenaeum featuring 'Faculty Ideas in Progress.'