Kyiv Security Forum


Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor), Russia Institute, School of Politics and Economics, King’s College London

Prior to joining King’s in September 2013 as Senior Lecturer, Dr. Marc P. Berenson was serving, since 2007, as a research fellow on the Governance Team at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in Brighton. His projects on governance, public administration, state capacity and state-society relations in Russia, Ukraine and Poland have been empirically, conceptually and methodologically ground-breaking, with a particular (and particularly important) focus on the ways in which citizens’ interactions with the bureaucracy shapes and is shaped by their perceptions of the state and the meaning of their own citizenship.

His recent book, Taxes and Trust: From Coercion to Compliance in Poland, Russia and Ukraine (Cambridge University Press, 2018)  – available for free download via Open Access from the publisher’s web site – focuses on three states at three, distinctly different stages of the transition from a coercive governing regime to such a state and concludes with bespoke recommendations for the Ukrainian state. Poland has transitioned successfully to a rule-of-law tax state, implementing client-oriented tax collection policies to ensure high levels of compliance. Russia employs a largely coercive tax system that enjoys moderate levels of tax compliance. Ukraine, meanwhile, has failed to build a tax state that is either effectively coercive or legitimate in the eyes of its citizens, rendering lower levels of compliance. In essence, Poland has been more effective because it has a state that is more organised, embodied with more resources and more citizen-focused as well as a society that is more capable of being a compliant partner. Effective governance occurs when state and society interact in a dualistic process through trust.

Dr. Berenson worked as a research analyst for the American Bar Association, the EastWest Institute, The Carter Center and the Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He also has undertaken several consultancies, for, among others, the World Bank in Russia and the OECD’s Tax and Development Program.  After receiving his BA from Harvard University, Dr. Berenson founded and directed from 1996 to 1998 the "Law in Action" program for Freedom House in Kyiv, Ukraine, before receiving his Ph.D. in Political Science from Princeton University in 2006. A recipient of over a dozen academic grants and fellowships, he is fluent in Russian, Polish and English, reads Ukrainian and speaks Italian.