Professor of Russian and East European Studies
YALE UNIVERSITY Ph.D. 1996. Department of Political Science.
Dissertation: “Out of the Red: Building Capitalism and Democracy in Postcommunist Europe.”
Winner of the 1997 Gabriel A. Almond Award of the American Political Science Association for the Best Doctoral Dissertation in Comparative Politics.
HARVARD UNIVERSITY A.B. cum laude in Social Studies June 1989.
Professor Orenstein’s research focuses on the political economy of transition in Central and Eastern Europe, pension privatization worldwide, the role of ideas in economic policy reform, and Russia’s hybrid war on the West. Among other works on political economy and foreign policy, he is the author of three prize-winning books.
Orenstein’s first book, Out of the Red: Building Capitalism and Democracy in Postcommunist Europe (University of Michigan Press, 2001), compares the political strategies reformers used to stay in power while implementing neoliberal economic reforms in the Czech Republic and Poland after 1989.
Orenstein’s second sole-authored book, Privatizing Pensions: The Transnational Campaign for Social Security Reform (Princeton University Press, 2008) shows how a coalition of transnational actors led by the World Bank apread pension privatization worldwide, demonstrating that transnational actors can influence domestic policy reform despite lacking direct veto power, by influencing the ideas and policy preferences of domestic veto players.
Privatizing Pensions won the 2009 Charles H. Levine Prize of the International Political Science Association for a book that “makes a contribution of considerable theoretical or practical significance in the field of public policy and administration, takes an explicitly comparative perspective, and is written in an accessible style.”
Roma in an Expanding Europe: Breaking the Poverty Cycle, co-authored with Dena Ringold and Erika Wilkens, is a seminal study of Roma poverty, sociology, and public health. It won the Voter’s Choice Award for the most innovative analytical and advisory activity and the World Bank Europe/Central Asia Knowledge Fair in 2004.
Orenstein is co-author with Hilary Appel of From Triumph to Crisis: Neoliberal Economic Reform in Postcommunist Countries (Cambridge University Press, 2018). From Triumph to Crisis provides an overview of neoliberal economic reforms in Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia since 1989 and argues that early transition theories must be revised to account for the long window of opportunity for these reforms, which extended through the Washington consensus stage to European Union accession and beyond to the adoption of avant-garde neoliberal reforms such as pension privatization and the flat tax. It proposes a new theory of transition based on competitive signaling between countries to attract foreign direct investment by implementing neoliberal reforms.
Orenstein has also submitted a new manuscript for publication to Oxford University Press, The Lands in Between: Russia vs. the West and the New Politics of Hybrid War. In it, he explores geopolitical competition between Russia and the West for influence in the lands in between Russia and the European Union and how the politics of these countries provides a useful guide to unexpected political dynamics in Western countries too in an age of hybrid war.
Orenstein teaches a course on Communism at Penn that analyzes the rise and fall of this alternative political-economic system, its legacies and relations to social democracy. He teaches a course on Russia and Eastern Europe in International Affairs that analyzes geopolitical competition between the European Union and Russia over the countries in between. He also teaches Managing Globalization and Anti-Globalization at the Wharton School, which provides a sweeping introduction to international political economy of the last 150 years and the institutions that manage the global economy.
The Lands in Between: Russia vs. the West and the New Politics of Hybrid War. Mitchell A. Orenstein. New York: Oxford University Press, in press, anticipated publication date Spring 2019.
The Triumph and Crisis of Neoliberalism in Post-Communist Europe and Eurasia. Hilary Appel and Mitchell A. Orenstein. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018.
Privatizing Pensions: The Transnational Campaign for Social Security Reform. Mitchell A. Orenstein. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.
Winner of the 2009 Charles Levine Prize of the International Political Association for the best book in comparative public policy and administration.
Polish translation published 2013. Warsaw, Poland: Polskie Towarzystwo Ekonomiczne.
Roma in an Expanding Europe: Breaking the Poverty Cycle. Dena Ringold, Mitchell A. Orenstein, and Erika Wilkens. Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2005.
Winner of the 2004 World Bank Europe/Central Asia Knowledge Fair Voter’s Choice Award for the most innovative analytical and advisory activity.
Out of the Red: Building Capitalism and Democracy in Post-Communist Europe. Mitchell A. Orenstein. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2001.
Spring 2020 Courses