Mark Harrison

Research Fellow / National Fellow

Mark Harrison is a research fellow and a former national fellow (2008–9) at the Hoover Institution. He is an economic historian and specialist in Soviet affairs, currently affiliated with the Hoover Institution Workshop on Totalitarian Regimes led by Hoover research fellow Paul R. Gregory.

In addition to his Hoover appointment, Harrison is a professor of economics at the University of Warwick in England and a senior research fellow at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies of the University of Birmingham. Harrison was one of the first Western economists to work in the Russian archives following the fall of Soviet communism. His work has brought new knowledge about the Russian and Soviet economy into mainstream economics and international economic history, especially through projects on the two world wars. He is currently working on the political economy of secrecy and state security in the Soviet Union.

Harrison has written or edited a number of books, including Guns and Rubles: The Defense Industry in the Stalinist State, published in 2008 in the Yale-Hoover series on Stalin, Stalinism, and the Cold War; The Economics of World War I (Cambridge University Press, 2005); and The Economics of World War II (Cambridge University Press, 1998). His articles have appeared in leading journals of comparative economics, economic history, and Russian studies. His work on Russia's historical national accounts in wartime was recognized by the Alec Nove Prize of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (1998) and the Russian National Award for Applied Economics (2012).

He has a BA in economics and politics from Cambridge University and a DPhil in modern history from Oxford University.

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Recent Commentary


Violence Or Morality: How Should We Think About Radicalization?

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Monday, May 25, 2015

Our society is worried about radicalization. What is radicalization? Apparently it is all about violence. According to the UK government's Prevent strategy (2011), "radicalisation is driven by an ideology which sanctions the use of violence." According to the more recent Tackling extremism in the UK (2013) "we must confront the poisonous extremist ideology that can lead people to violence."


Terrorism: A Career Choice? By Mark Harrison

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Thursday, May 14, 2015

Recently the Warwick PPE programme (that's Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) put on an event for school students. The idea was to show what each of the three disciplines--Philosophy, Politics, and Economics--can contribute on a topic of current importance. It turned out that philosophy is good at trying to understand the concept of terrorism, and the study of politics helps us to understand how western politics have influenced our concepts of terrorism. I decided to talk about why young people choose to become terrorists in terms of the economics of career choice. Here, roughly, is what I said.

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Group, Then Threaten: How Bad Ideas Move Millions

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Monday, March 23, 2015

I've been thinking: What is it that enables a bad idea suddenly to spread across millions of people? Here are some of the things I have in mind.

world war i

Monday Morning Muesli

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Monday, March 9, 2015

On Friday I read yet another plaudit for Christopher Clark's The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914. Sleepwalkers? To judge from the title the great powers went to war in their sleep, without a conscious decision to do so, an interpretation that should let everyone off the hook.


Monday Morning Muesli

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Monday, March 2, 2015

According to Putin's spokesman Dmitrii Peskov, the Russian President considers that the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was a contract killing with "all the signs of a provocation."


Russia Under Sanctions: It's Not Working

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Friday, February 27, 2015

On the evening of Tuesday 24 February I joined a panel discussion on "Russia Now," organized by Warwick Arts Centre's Mead Gallery.

Athens, Greece

Monday Morning Muesli

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Monday, February 23, 2015

One of the first statements by Greece's new prime minister Alexis Tsipras called on Germany to pay more reparations to Greece for losses arising from the Nazi occupation in World War II. Some commentators added that, if Germany could have its debts and damages mostly forgiven after World War II, Greece could be forgiven its debts today.

Other Media

Why sanctions are no alternative to defence

by Mark Harrisonvia Financial Times
Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sir, Gideon Rachman, in “Russian hearts, minds, and refrigerators” (February 17), writes: “Rather than engage the Putin government where it is relatively strong, on the battlefield, it makes more sense to hit Russia at its weak point: the economy.”


Russia's Improbable Futures and the Lure of the Past

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

On 27 January I was asked to join a panel on Russia's Future within the University of Warwick One World Week. (The other panel members were Richard Connolly, co-director of the University of Birmingham Centre for Russian, European, and Eurasian Studies, and the journalist Oliver Bullough.) I decided to talk about how Russians are looking to the past in order to understand their uncertain future.

Australian War Memorial Photo Collection / Captain Frank Hurley

Myths of the Great War

by Mark Harrisonvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The statesmen of 1914 knew how terrible the conflict would be—but they marched all the same.