Russian Scholar at WPI Studies Growth of Capitalist Economies

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - Russian professor Alexander Ryzhenkov, a world-renowned systems dynamics expert from the Academy of Sciences in Russia, is studying capitalism at Worcester Polytechnic Institute this summer.

Ryzhenkov's research focuses on sustainable economic development and the privatization of the Russian economy. He is the first participant in WPI's new visiting scholar program in systems dynamics in the Social Science and Policy Studies Department.

"System dynamics" involves the study of social and business policy using behavioral modeling and computer simulation. Selected scholars and practitioners in this field are being invited to spend a sojourn at WPI to collaborate with departmental faculty. The program is open to both foreign and local scholars.

This summer, Ryzhenkov is delving into the growth of capitalist economies and how this growth generates long-term economic fluctuations. These fluctuations, known as Kondratiev cycles, recur every 50-60 years.

"Alex's work suggests that the U.S. economy has just entered the recovery phase in its long-term trend while Germany, France, Japan and the most of the rest of the world are still in their declining phases," said Khalid Saeed, WPI Social Science and Policy Studies professor and department head.

In the course of his work, Ryzhenkov has developed a theory that an increase of capital per employee at this economic stage would lengthen the depression phase if technological progress remained low.

Another of his findings supports the economic wisdom of caring for Mother Earth.

"An environmentally conscious economy would, in the long run, perform better than a wasteful one since the former would develop higher levels of efficiency and productivity," Ryzhenkov notes.

In his work, he will continue to develop system dynamics models of free market economies, experimenting with them under different assumptions concerning the market, resources and the regulatory environment.

The first of many systems dynamics visiting scholars who will come to WPI, Ryzhenkov has been supported by the World Society Foundation in Switzerland. Soon to join him in the innovative program are Dr. Ali Mashaiyekhi from the University of Ispehan in Iran, Dr. Uchino Akira from Senshu University in Japan, Dr. Tan Lee Peng from Universiti Malaya in Malaysia and Usman Ghani of McKinsey & Co., an international management consulting firm.

WPI, founded in 1865 and renowned for its project-based curriculum, is unique in its inception of an undergraduate program in system dynamics.

"At this time, we are the only undergrad program in the world in system dynamics, although the subject might appear as a part of other programs and teaching processes," Saeed said.