Armenian. Joined the Communist Party in 1956. From 1955-1961 worked for the USSR State Committee of the Council of Ministers on problems of labour and wages. Head of the Laboratory of the Institute of Economics and Organization of Industrial Production of the Siberian Section of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, 1961.
Appointed its director in 1966. Corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences since 1964. Gorbachev’s chief adviser on economic matters.
Insisted on removing state subsidies, on which the Soviet economy is based, from everything except education, health, care for the elderly and book-publishing. Created in 1987 the New Economic Mechanism, a three-year plan for the complete reform of the Soviet economy (perestroika).