Prof. Dr. János Mátyás Kovács
Senior Researcher & Board Member

Prof. Dr. János Mátyás Kovács
Senior Researcher & Board Member

Dr. János Mátyás Kovács graduated at the Karl Marx University of Economics, Budapest in 1973, and became a research fellow at the Institute of Economics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest. In 1987, he moved to Vienna, and worked as a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) between 1991 and 2018 while remaining an external research fellow of the Institute of Economics until 2014. Since 2009, he has taught history of economic thought at the Department of Economics, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. Kovács joined RECET in 2019. He continues to work as professor of economic history at the Eötvös Loránd University and is permanent fellow emeritus of IWM.

Research interests:

•    History of Economic Thought in Eastern Europe
•    History of Communist Economies
•    Political Economy of New Capitalism in Eastern Europe
•    Economic Cultures after Communism
•    Institutional Economics

Current research project:

Economic Collectivism: Old and New. Lessons from the Communist and Post-Communist Experience

This project is part of the research program “Between Bukharin and Balcerowicz: A Comparative History of Economic Thought under Communism” ( The program covers the history of economic ideas in nine countries: Bulgaria, China, Czechoslovakia, GDR, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. The research results are published by Rowman and Littlefield in its Lexington Books series Revisiting Communism: Collectivist Economic Thought in Historical Perspective. Following the 2018 publication of a comparative volume on the evolution of ownership concepts under communism, the participants of the “collectivism” project will produce two other volumes (on concepts of planning and the market, respectively) in 2019/2021, and organize an international conference on varieties of “new collectivism” in 2021.

Selected recent publications:

(ed) Brave New Hungary. Mapping the “System of National Cooperation” (co-editor Balazs Trencsenyi), Rowman and Littlefield, 2019.

“Orban’s Right Hand Thinks. On the Sources of György Matolcsy’s Economic Vision.“ In: J.M. Kovacs and Balazs Trencsenyi (eds), Brave New Hungary: Mapping the "System of National Cooperation", 2019.

(ed) Populating No Man’s Land. Economic Concepts of Ownership Under Communism, Rowman and Littlefield, 2018.

“From Two to One and Only? Theorizing ownership in communist Hungary.“ In: J.M. Kovacs (ed), Populating No Man’s Land: Economic Concepts of Ownership under Communism, 2018.

“Heading the Gloom. How I Did Not Become a Reformer in the Hungary of 1968“ [in Hungarian] 2000, 2018/6.

“Vom Zweifel zur Scham. Sieben falsche Vorhersagen über das postkommunistische Ungarn“ Transit, 2017/50.

Everything I always wanted to know about mathematical economics (but was afraid to ask) [in Hungarian], 2016.

“Tradition, Nachamung, Erfindung. Neue Kapitalismen in Osteuropa“, in: Transit 43, 2013.

“Shooting Sparrows with a Cannon? On the History of Eastern European Economic Thought (1917-1989) I, II“ [in Hungarian], 2000, May/June 2013.

(ed) Capitalism from Outside? Economic Cultures in Eastern Europe After 1989 (co-editor Violetta Zentai), Budapest / New York: CEU Press, 2012.

“Beyond Basic Instinct? On the Reception of New Institutional Economics in Eastern Europe”, In: J.M. Kovacs and Violetta Zentai (eds), Capitalism from Outside? Economic Cultures in Eastern Europe after 1989, 2012.