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Alexander Kentikelenis

Alexander Kentikelenis

Junior Research Fellow in Politics, Trinity College
Trinity College

Alexander Kentikelenis is the Junior Research Fellow in Politics at Trinity College. Before taking up this post, he completed a Ph.D. in Sociology and an M.Phil. in Development Studies at the University of Cambridge (King's College).

Alexander's research interests lie in the fields of international political economy, economic and organizational sociology, public health, and international development. He has written extensively on the social consequences of economic crises, austerity, and structural reforms. His current research continues to explore these issues, but also focuses on processes of deliberation and decision-making in the international political economy. He is particularly interested in questions of governance and accountability of intergovernmental organizations.

Alexander’s work has appeared in leading academic journals, including The Lancet, World Development, The Lancet Global Health, Social Science & Medicine and the European Journal of Public Health, and has received attention by various media outlets, including the New York Times, Le Monde, El País, Reuters, Associated Press, the BBC, and Al Jazeera. In addition, it has formed the basis of parliamentary questions in the House of Lords and the European Parliament. Alexander has also worked as a consultant to the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Over the years, his research has been funded by the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), the Cambridge Political Economy Society, the Onassis Foundation, the Greek Ministry of Education (IKY), and Harvard University.


Research Interests

Intergovernmental organizations form a dense network influencing the activities of states, citizens, and business. Among them, possibly the most powerful, and probably the most controversial, is the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Founded after World War II, the IMF became central to the functioning of the world economy, and has served as a lender of last resort to most countries. In this capacity, it has guided nations into becoming ever more integrated into the global economic system, and has thus directly or indirectly affected policy in developed and developing countries alike, as well as the lives of ordinary citizens. Yet, despite its significance, the IMF’s internal workings have been characterized as a ‘black box’ and knowledge about the policies it has advocated in borrowing countries remains haphazard.

Alexander’s work seeks to overcome these limitations and focuses on two interrelated aspects of the activities of this organization: What determines its policies? What consequences do its policies have? To investigate these issues, he relies on newly-generated data and diverse methodological approaches (macro-comparative quantitative analyses, survey methods, in-depth interviews, focus groups, content analysis, and historical methods).

Determinants of IMF-mandated economic reforms

How has the IMF come to decide what ‘sound economic policy’ entails? How have these ideas diffused throughout the world?What policies has the IMF advocated in countries receiving financial assistance, and how have these policies changed over time? Is the IMF responsive to the interests of its member-states, or is it guided by the interests and ideas of its bureaucracy? Does the IMF exhibit patterns of ‘scientific’ decision-making, or is it held captive by defunct theories? Who are the people governing the IMF and can we trace ‘revolving doors’ carrying them from international economic policy-making to private finance or business?How do these people govern the organization? How is the IMF interlinked with other intergovernmental organizations and bilateral donors?

Alexander’s research on the determinants of IMF-mandated economic adjustment policies examines such questions and contributes to debates in the fields of international political economy, political and organizational sociology, and development studies. To this end, he has generated large-scale databases utilizing newly available archival material that enable nuanced accounts of how the relevant dynamics operate.

Social consequences of economic reforms

What are the effects of economic adjustment policies on social protection policies? How do economic reforms affect population health? Which social groups are affected the most and how? How do specific policies threaten access to essential welfare services? What is the political response to the social consequences of economic adjustment policies? How do people respond to rapid socioeconomic change and the rollback of social services?

Alexander’s work on the social consequences of economic adjustment policies focuses on the implications of reform paths for society and public health in a comparative perspective. He has published on the public health effects of the Greek crisis, the effects of austerity measures on European health systems, and the political and policy response to health crises. In addition, drawing on in-depth interviews in a working class Athens suburb, he has examined how the members of this community – marred by high levels of unemployment – cope with adversity. Finally, Alexander has analyzed the effects of IMF programs on health policy and outcomes in low-income countries.

Global governance Institutions and organisations International organisations Public Policy