Mitchell A. Orenstein

Professor of Russian and East European Studies

Department Chair

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, the role of ideas in economic policy reform, and Russia’s hybrid war on the West.  Among his many published works are four prize-winning books on political economy and international affairs.   

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.  

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 spread pension privatization worldwide, demonstrating that transnational actors influence domestic policy reform despite lacking direct veto power, influencing the domestic veto players’ ideas and policy preferences.

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’s book, From Triumph to Crisis: Neoliberal Economic Reform in Postcommunist Countries (Cambridge University Press, 2018), co-authored with Hilary Appel, won the Silver Medal in the Shannon Prize for Contemporary European Studies from Notre Dame University’s Nanovic Institute.  From Triumph to Crisis provides an overview of neoliberal economic reforms in Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia since 1989. It shows that early transition theories cannot explain the long window of opportunity for these reforms, which extended from the early Washington consensus 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.  

The Lands in Between: Russia vs. the West and the New Politics of Hybrid War(Oxford University Press, 2019) explains the geopolitical competition between Russia and the West for influence in the lands in between Russia and the European Union.  It provides a useful guide to contemporary political dynamics in Central and Eastern Europe and in Western countries in an age of hybrid war.

Taking Stock of Shock: Social Consequences of the 1989 Revolutions (Oxford University Press, 2021), co-authored with Penn colleague Kristen Ghodsee, provides an interdisciplinary account of the impact of transition.  It has excited much discussion in Central and Eastern Europe because it takes seriously opposing claims that transition produced both very positive and very negative consequences for post-communist populations.  It provides data to support both sides of this debate and proposes a nuanced understanding of transition that seeks to reshape contemporary policy debates.  

 

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 the international political economy of the last 150 years and the institutions that manage the global economy.

Office Location

746 Williams Hall

Email

Phone

215-898-6339

Fax

215-573-7794

Website

CV (file)

https://rees.sas.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/Orenstein_CV_APril_2021.pdf

Research Interests

Professor Orenstein’s research focuses on the political economy of transition in Central and Eastern Europe, the role of ideas in economic policy reform, and Russia’s hybrid war on the West.  Among his many published works are four prize-winning books on political economy and international affairs.   

Selected Publications

Taking Stock of Shock: Social Consequences of the 1989 Revolutions.  Kristen Ghodsee and Mitchell A. Orenstein.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2021.  

The Lands in Between: Russia vs. the West and the New Politics of Hybrid War.  Mitchell A. Orenstein.  New York: Oxford University Press, 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.

Winner of the 2020 Silver Medal, Shannon Prize for Contemporary European Studies, Notre Dame University, Nanovic Institute.

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.

Courses Taught

Spring 2022 Courses
MGMT208 Managing Globalization & Anti-Globalization
 
Dr. Orenstein teaches a course on Communism that analyzes the rise and fall of this alternative political-economic system, its legacies and relations to social democracy.  He also 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. In addition, he teaches Managing Globalization and Anti-Globalization at the Wharton School, which provides a sweeping introduction to the international political economy of the last 150 years and the institutions that manage the global economy.