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Marina Nistotskaya, Senior Lecturer

Marina is an Associate Professor in political science at the Quality of Government Institute (QoG) and she is one of our international teachers. Her research focuses on how the exercise of power – political processes that occur after elections take place – is organized in different societies and the consequences of this for human wellbeing. Marina teaches within our Master’s programmes.

Can you describe your research?

"My research focuses on how the exercise of power – political processes  that occur after elections take place – is organized in different societies and the consequences of this for human wellbeing. For example, why in some societies do politicians tightly control the day-to-day decision-making of bureaucrats, while in others bureaucrats enjoy discretion? Why do some countries outsource a great deal of the provision of social services – such as education or elderly care – to the private sector, while others do not? Is this consequential? Always? or only under some additional conditions?"

"Currently I am working on state capacity – the ability of states to implement their political decisions. Intuitively the idea of a weak state (as opposed to a strong state) is clear, but how to precisely define state capacity? How to measure it? What are the consequences of high and low state capacity? How is state-building related to regime type? And how is it possible to achieve high state capacity?"

What makes your research interesting?

"At a broader level, I think looking at how power is exercised (as opposed to how people and organizations get access to power) may provide important answers to social problems. Through incremental steps some important knowledge is being created and this is exciting! At a personal level, it is the process of continuous learning: my research interests have encouraged me learn about such things as cadastral maps, Kenya’s devolution or the organization of elderly care in Swedish municipalities. To be able to do that as part of my work is simply incredible!"

What do you teach?

"I teach a module on state capacity for PhD students. At the MA-level I am a course coordinator of one of the department’s flagship courses, Quality of Government in Comparative Perspective, and I also teach on Research Methods, International Administration and Policy and Performance on Democracies courses."

Why did you get into political science?

"It is only my PhD degree that is in political science, my BA and MA degrees are in other social science disciplines. Fundamentally, it is the belief that all societal problems and solutions are of a political nature that led me to political science."

When is your job the most enjoyable?

"One of the most enjoyable aspects of my work is mentoring a student’s course project or thesis. I am thrilled to see their ideas growing and evolving: from an empirical or theoretical puzzle, to some half-intuitive hunch and then to a logical argument, which is then tested with empirical data."

If you hadn’t become a political scientist, what would you be doing today?

"A pilot, but air sickens soon. Must put an end to that."