Emerging Market Economies in Central Asia:
The Role of Institutional Complementarities in Reform Processes

This three-year project aims at analyzing the institutional arrangements currently being developed and redefined in Central Asian economies. It expands the “Varieties of Capitalism” (VoC) research agenda to transition countries in Central Asia; notably Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and it is driven by the following goals:


  • to contribute in a comparative manner to a better understanding of political-economic developments in Central Asia;
  • to further the VoC research agenda by applying the approach to transition economies, notably to Central Asian economies;
  • to determine the influence of external actors in the transformation process in Central Asia and to develop relevant policy recommendations;
  • to elaborate the impact of distinct capitalist variations in Central Asia on economic performance – indicated by economic growth, income distribution, and socio-economic indicators.


From a theoretical perspective, the project contributes to the research on the political economy of different capitalist systems. From a policy perspective, the project develops analytical guidelines of institutional development in the countries under investigation, suggests reform proposals, and produces innovative country-specific policy recommendations.


The research project is unique in several respects. First, the impact of institutions on economic and social performance in Central Asian countries is analysed in a systemic and comparative way. Secondly, the VoC research will be extended to cover countries from the former Soviet Union. Thirdly, the analysis of Central Asian economies and their institutional settings yields significant contributions to the literature on comparative political economy and the political economy of transition. Finally, the VoC perspective is suitably complemented by approaches of the New Institutional Economics (NIE) and the New Political Economy (NPE) in order to account for institutional change over time in a dynamic context of systemic transition.