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Secrecy and State Capacity: A Look Behind the Iron Curtain

Author

Listed:
  • Harrison, Mark

    (The University of Warwick)

Abstract

This paper reviews two decades of research on the political economy of secrecy, based on the records of former Soviet state and party archives. Secrecy was an element of Soviet state capacity, particularly its capacity for decisiveness, free of the pressures and demands for accountability that might have arisen from a better informed citizenry. But secrecy was double-edged. Its uses also incurred substantial costs that weakened the capacity of the Soviet state to direct and decide. The paper details the costs of secrecy associated with “conspirative” government business processes, adverse selection of management personnel, everyday abuses of authority, and an uninformed leadership.

Suggested Citation

  • Harrison, Mark, 2017. "Secrecy and State Capacity: A Look Behind the Iron Curtain," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 312, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:312
    as

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    File URL: https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/centres/cage/manage/publications/312-2017_harrison.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mark Harrison & Inga Zaksauskienė, 2016. "Counter-intelligence in a command economy," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 69(1), pages 131-158, February.
    2. Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2011. "Dictators And Their Viziers: Endogenizing The Loyalty–Competence Trade‐Off," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(5), pages 903-930, October.
    3. Harrison, Mark, 2013. "Accounting for Secrets," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 73(04), pages 1017-1049, December.
    4. Andrei Markevich, 2007. "How Much Control is Enough? Monitoring and Enforcement under Stalin," Working Papers w0110, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
    5. Mark Dincecco & Gabriel Katz, 2016. "State Capacity and Long‐run Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(590), pages 189-218, February.
    6. repec:taf:ceasxx:v:65:y:2013:i:6:p:1112-1135 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Mark Harrison, 2013. "Secrecy, Fear and Transaction Costs: The Business of Soviet Forced Labour in the Early Cold War," Europe-Asia Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 65(6), pages 1112-1135.
    8. Harrison, Mark, 2011. "Forging success: Soviet managers and accounting fraud, 1943-1962," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 43-64, March.
    9. Daron Acemoglu & Leopoldo Fergusson & James A. Robinson & Dario Romero & Juan F. Vargas, 2016. "The Perils of High-Powered Incentives: Evidence from Colombia's False Positives," NBER Working Papers 22617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Andrei Markevich & Mark Harrison, 2006. "Quality, experience, and monopoly: the Soviet market for weapons under Stalin -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 59(1), pages 113-142, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    abuse of authority; adverse selection; censorship; military outlays; secrecy; state capacity; transaction costs; trust JEL Classification: N44; P37;

    JEL classification:

    • N44 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: 1913-
    • P37 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Legal

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