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From Research Assistant to Ph.D-programme in California

Polina Detkova, IIMS research assistant, talked about how her work at the Institute influenced her career choice.

Could you please introduce yourself
 
I am a graduate of bachelor’s program in economics at HSE and also a graduate of master’s program “Master of Arts in Economics” at New Economic School. Currently I am studying at the social science Ph.D. program at California Institute of Technology. I have been working for IIMS since 2016; first I started as a laboratory assistant, from the end of 2017 I became a research assistant.


How did you get into IIMS? What did you do for your projects and research?
 
I worked on my very first project at IIMS under supervision of Andrey Tkachenko; I was constructing regional corruption indices based on various survey data. Later, Andrey Tkachenko, Elena Podkolzina and I wrote paper 'Corruption, Centralization and Competition: Evidence from Russian Public Procurement' that analyses the impact of regional corruption level on the outcomes of centralized and decentralized procurements made through electronic auctions. We identified two different patterns for regions with relatively high corruption level: centralized procurements through electronic auctions are more likely to have only one participant and decentralized procurements electronic auctions are more likely to have low price decline.

I also co-author a project on gender difference in attitude to corruption among Russian bureaucrats with Andrei Yakovlev and Andrey Tkachenko. The survey we conducted helped reveal that Russian female bureaucrats are more likely to identify corruption as a roadblock to development of Russian public procurement than male bureaucrats. Currently Andrey Tkachenko and I are working on the data on electronic auctions to find out if gender of procurers matters for the outcomes in regions with high corruption.


When did you first realise that you want to do your Ph.D. abroad? Did your decision stem from your work for IIMS?
 
My work for IIMS was a starting point that helped me consider an opportunity to build my own academic career. I was not a very successful student when I studied at HSE, that is why I could not take the opportunity my programme provided and do a Ph.D right afterwards.
However, at the end of the last year at HSE I knew that working on different research projects fascinated me so much that I wanted to do it professionally.  It was the main reason why I decided to get Masters degree at New Economic School (so I could start Ph.D. studies after it).

Now I am studying on a program that gives me an opportunity to take courses  related to traditional economic field (like microeconomics theory), political economy and political science and also courses in between these quite different areas.  In my opinion, IIMS helped me broaden my horizons far beyond regular economic topics. Even though I have not decided on the direction my future research yet, the program gives me a broad spectrum of choices and it makes the program perfect for me.

 

What are your plans for the future?
 
At the moment I want to focus on my studies. For the next half a year I will have different courses, in September I will take qualification exams. During this time I have to decide on the research area for my second year term paper and I am not looking beyond that right now.