Dóra Piroska attended the University of Economics in the late 90s, and she was captivated by a very popular term that came up in every second lesson, namely globalisation. “Everybody was talking about it, but in reality, there was a big question mark about its exact meaning”, she said about her time at university.
In Dóra’s opinion, it was particularly interesting to see how the countries of Eastern Central Europe were affected by globalisation after the changes in their political systems, so it is no surprise that her research career focused on studying this region, and she applied for admission to the CEU’s doctoral programme. “It is very interesting how post-socialist countries met capitalism, and at that time, the CEU had a mission that the university should primarily focus on the current issues and processes of the region. So, it was obvious that I would go in this direction, too”.
Capitalism and Eastern Europe
She highlighted the impacts of the lessons at CEU held by two teachers, who actually complimented each other. Anna Leander gave her a good insight into international processes related to globalisation, and Mihály Laki provided lots of methodology skills for the examination of the Hungarian and other Eastern European economies. “One of them helped me to understand the global processes, and the other one explained the local implementation of global phenomena. I am still extremely grateful to both of them till this day.”
The capitalist transformation in the 90s offers a lot of research topics, and Dóra Piroska examined not only the Hungarian conditions, but the internal conditions of other countries in the region, too:
It is clear that a completely different type of capitalism evolved in Eastern European countries. In the 90s and 2000s, a lot of international investors saw good opportunities in this region. The mechanisms represented by them were totally different from the post-socialist culture, and the combination of the two was very exciting from research point of view.
She mentioned Slovenia as an example, with its unique system of economic nationalism. The largest bank of the country remained in state ownership even after the change in the political system, and the economic policy of the country resisted the neoliberal impacts. However, the economic crisis of 2008 reached Slovenia, too, and the European Union subjected the recovery of the economy to strict conditions, so in 2016 and 2018 it was mandatory for them to privatise the two largest banks of the country. ‘Such hybrid systems and transitions give us a lot of topics, and I, as a researcher, always find these questions inspiring”.
If Corvinus, then research
Dóra has been working for the Department of Economic Policy of the Corvinus University of Budapest since 2016. “László Andor invited me, so that I could work on my researches. In the time between the CEU and Corvinus I had three children, and worked for IBS, where I was mainly teaching. It was at Corvinus where I returned to the research career”, said Dóra Piroska about the past few years, and she is very grateful to the organisation of the University for allowing her to teach a lower number of lessons and for the constant professional support given to her research career.
Sometimes I had to work with a low research budget, but academic freedom and the support of the colleagues were always provided, and this is very important
she said about her time at Corvinus.
From development banks to fintech startups
In her career, the research of the banking sector enjoyed high priority, so she examined the regulation of the banking and money market of the European Union, the challenges of macroprudential banking regulations in the Eastern European region and the European development banks (including the regional and the national development banks alike) in several studies.
Another related subject is banking nationalism , she wrote one of her most powerful studies published in 2016 in this subject, and it was cited by the World Bank, too. This study, which was co-authored with Katalin Mérő, examined the political and structural reasons why Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic refused to join the banking union. For this topic, she requires comprehensive knowledge about the banking system, and she always collects that from several sources, by conducting interviews. “First, I always talk to a journalist who specialises in the subject, and who helps me to understand the processes and determine the key players with whom it is worth conducting quantitative interviews.”
Based on her experiences, she says it is more and more difficult to get adequate information in the Eastern European countries:
Recently, in the case of both Poland and Hungary, I ran into the problem that I did not get any data, and people in the relevant positions at development banks did not give interviews
she explained the challenges she has to face in her present research areas.
However, her earlier research areas are now extended with the issues of fintechs and financial start-ups, too, as this is a very rapidly developing, dynamic market, which also offers a lot of topics: “It is an amazing phenomenon that the number of Revolut users is soaring. Just think about this: The banking supervision of Lithuania is supposed to supervise the infrastructure of a country of less than 3 million people. At the same time, Revolut also belongs to them, with its user base of 16 million. This is an incredible challenge”.
During her years of research, she has learned how to involve her students into her researches. It has also happened that a former student became a co-author, and they published a joint study. Now she is a full-time teacher of the CEU, and a part-time teacher at Corvinus. In 10 per cent of her time, she works, mainly researches, or holds seminars with low numbers of students. The advantage of that is that she is able to establish personal relations with students, and at the lessons they jointly process current studies relevant to the research area.
Students are open to that, because they feel that they get current knowledge at the lesson. And if anyone shows a deeper interest in the subject, I can offer further guidance
she said about her relations with students, adding that it is a narrow area, so it is not easy to find co-authors. Apart from Dóra, there are only a few other researchers who examine Eastern Europe in such depth as she does. She knows them and cooperates with them, but she is constantly looking for opportunities to find additional co-authors.