Loyalty as rent: corruption and politicization of Russian universities

Ararat L. Osipian (Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Peabody College of Education, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Publication date: 20 April 2012



The purpose of this paper is to analyze the changes that have taken place in the Russian higher education sector over the last two decades. Specifically, it analyses such phenomena as corruption and politicization of Russian universities through the concept of “loyalty as rent”.


This paper is a synthesis of conceptual work and case study, developing and applying the concept of “loyalty as rent” to the case of Russian higher education. Rapidly developing segments of the Russian economy are known for sprawling informal economic relations. In such segments, illicit revenues may exceed legal income and political influence is considered an economic resource.


Informal approval of corrupt activities in colleges and universities in exchange for loyalty and compliance with the current political regime is commonplace in modern Russia. Political indoctrination of universities is advanced by the ruling political regime in Russia through informal means, while academic meritocracy is no longer honored. The ruling regime uses corruption in the universities to derive its rent not in money but in loyalty to the regime.


This paper argues that the widespread corruption in Russian universities may be used by the state in order to gain much needed political support of faculty and students.



Osipian, A. (2012), "Loyalty as rent: corruption and politicization of Russian universities", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 32 No. 3/4, pp. 153-167. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443331211214730

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