Current Position: Assistant Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University
Dr. Gans-Morse joined the Northwestern University Department of Political Science in 2011 after completing his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley. He teaches courses in Comparative Politics, Political Economy, and Post-Soviet Politics.
His current research examines the political foundations of property rights in post-communist countries. He has additionally published articles on the interaction between economic reforms and democracy, the history of neo-liberal economic reforms, and theories of political transitions. Recent publications have appeared in Comparative Political Studies, Post-Soviet Affairs, and Studies in International Comparative Development. His primary regional expertise is the former Soviet Union. Prior to his doctoral studies, he was a Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC, a recipient of two US State Department fellowships to Moscow, and a Resident Director for the American Councils for International Education's student exchange program in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The importance of property rights to economic and political development is widely recognized. Yet it remains unclear why institutions for protecting property rights often fail to emerge. Many scholars focus on leaders’ incentives and assume that if institutions are “supplied,” then firms will automatically use them. By contrast, Dr. Gans-Morse’s research emphasizes that firms often circumvent or subvert newly created institutions. Consequently, theories of property rights formation should not focus exclusively on whether or not leaders create institutions. They must also explain the conditions under which firms actually use formal institutions for protection. His work analyzes firms’ strategies for protecting property rights in Russia and identifies conditions under which firms rely on state institutions.
Dr. Gans-Morse is currently expanding his work on the foundations of property rights and the rule of law in Russia to include research on Ukraine and Kazakhstan. He also is compiling an original database of Russian court cases involving business disputes. The database, which ultimately will be made publicly available, will for the first time allow researchers to directly analyze which types of firms are using formal legal institutions.