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Kazakhstan’s Emerging Economy

Between State and Market

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Roman Vakulchuk

Kazakhstan has become a successful market reformer under the leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. But what type of a market economy has emerged in the country since 1991? This book focuses on Kazakhstan’s transition path, examines the role of the state in steering economic processes, and analyses the state – business interaction. The Varieties of Capitalism approach and a core – periphery analytical framework are applied to classify the evolving model of capitalist economy in the country in detail. The research design is based on a qualitative cross-sectional interview study, where 159 semi-structured interviews were conducted. This study makes an innovative contribution to the scholarly literature on the economic and institutional transition of Kazakhstan.
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Kazakhstan has become a successful market reformer under the leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. This book focuses on Kazakhstan’s distinct transition path, describing in depth the type of market economy that has evolved in the country since 1991. The main research question is: what type of a market economy is emerging in Kazakhstan? To address this question, this work studies the role of the state in steering economic processes, and analyses the interaction between the state and private business.

The research design is based on qualitative cross-sectional interview study. The Varieties of Capitalism approach and a ‘core–periphery’ analytical framework are applied to classify the evolving model of capitalist economy in Kazakhstan. The findings indicate that application of the Varieties of Capitalism approach to the post-communist transition economy of Kazakhstan has its limits. This is due to the massive role of the state in the transition context and the fact that this approach is poorly suited for explaining sudden institutional changes in the economy. Therefore, the Varieties of Capitalism approach is complemented by the ‘core–periphery’ analytical framework, as developed in this study and proven useful in accounting for the large role of the state in the economy. The results indicate that the economy of Kazakhstan represents a hybrid ‘core–periphery’ model, in which the ‘core’ part is more state-led, whereas the ‘periphery’ part is more market-oriented. Each economic part has elements of both state and market coordination. Importantly, the rules of the game for economic...

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