2022 Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievement: Georgy Egorov

The Ronald Coase Institute Award for Outstanding Achievement recognizes annually the graduate of the Institute's workshops who best exemplifies the impact of the Institute’s training and continuing scholarly support.

The award includes a $1,000 prize and a trophy of recognition. It was created through the ideas and generosity of an admirer of the Institute. Final decisions are made by the Board of Directors.

The winner of the 2022 Award for Outstanding Achievement is Georgy Egorov (2004 Tucson workshop). He accepted the award during the alumni conference dinner in Frankfurt, Germany on August 27, 2023.

2022 alumni award winner - Georgy Egorov

About Georgy Egorov

Georgy Egorov is James Farley/Booz, Allen & Hamilton Research Professor, and Professor of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

His research interests include political economy of democracies and non-democracies, dynamics of institutions, culture, and topics in economic theory. He is currently working on questions related to weak institutions and their dynamics, interaction between market and non-market actors in business environments, and social image considerations in strategic decisions. His papers have been published in leading journals, including EconometricaAmerican Economic ReviewQuarterly Journal of EconomicsJournal of Political EconomyReview of Economic Studies, and American Political Science Review.

He is an alumnus of the Ronald Coase Institute and has been a faculty member in its webworkshops and a presenter at its panels.

Acceptance Speech by Georgy Egorov

I am deeply grateful and honored to receive the alumni award from the Ronald Coase Institute.

I got to know about Ronald Coase Institute from an earlier alumnus, Konstantin Sonin – who went on to become one of the previous recipients of this award. When I participated in the RCI Workshop in Tucson, Arizona, in 2004, I had just finished the Master’s program at the New Economic School. Research appealed to me – and at the time, it was understanding the workings of non-democratic regimes, mostly from a theoretical perspective. The project we had started working on was about dictators and their viziers, where we sought to understand why, fundamentally, real-life dictators are different from Olsonian “stationary bandits”.

Konstantin recommended that I attend the RCI Workshop with that project – which I did and which became an important formative experience. The project itself of course benefited from the presentation and comments from the faculty – and in particular discussions with John Nye, Philip Keefer, and Scott Gehlbach. I vividly remember discussions with them – not the least because the desert scenery of a resort in Tucson was so memorable. It was a pleasure – and in a certain sense a relief – to find many renowned scholars for whom thinking about big questions in institutional terms is natural, for whom understanding the world through the lens of information frictions and transaction costs and not just efficiency frontiers is the way to do so.

But perhaps more important was the general sense of encouragement that I heard and felt from faculty. Alexandra and Lee Benham, and Mary Shirley taught me that having a concrete and interesting question that does not coincide with what others are doing is a good thing. That understanding agency frictions in nondemocratic governments is a question that belongs to economics. That I should go forward and work on it. And – like many of us have seen time and time again – they advised on what I should do to persuade others of the importance of my question and they were somehow confident that I can do that.

After the workshop, I went on, I applied for PhD and got admitted to Harvard. This enabled me to learn from perhaps the best institutionalists in the world – Jim Robinson from the government department and Daron Acemoglu from MIT. Daron, Konstantin, and I co-authored a series of papers on institutional dynamics and collective decision making that I’m very proud of. Over time I became interested in other phenomena – populism, corporate activism, and understanding political expression, among others. The ideas of transaction costs, information frictions, imperfect contracts, and institutions that arise as a result, are central to all these questions.

I am – and we all should be – grateful to the Ronald Coase Institute. My work on political economy would not be possible without the foundational work on institutions. My personal trajectory could take a different – and likely not better – path if not for the experience, feedback, and encouragement I got in Tucson. I am proud to be an alumnus of Ronald Coase Institute – and I am honored to accept this award. Thank you very much!