Today, the Russian scientific community is actively seeking causes of low institutional effectiveness, as well as possible ways to improve it. The article examines the issues of history and development of the structural balance of the Russian institutional environment within the theory of institutional matrices, transaction costs and informal institutions. It is shown that the Russian institutional environment has historically been «alien» to business interests in terms of the market paradigm. Small business in Russia has never been the foundation and catalyst for the economic growth, even during periods of active liberalization and the so-called «golden age» of entrepreneurship. With shortages of necessary formal Y-institutions, the institutional support for small businesses comprised formal X-institutions of family business, state support (protection), as well as informal community X-institutions, personalized relations and illegal economy. The current state is characterized by contradictions of the external layer, built on the formal market Y-type, and the internal, informal layer which coordinates actions of economic agents according to the dispensing principle (X). The authors explored the vector of structural changes in terms of their impact on the XY-balance of the institutional environment. The paper shows that the main anti-crisis measures taken by the Government are based on the X-matrix principles, but if properly applied, they can strengthen market institutions. The authors conclude that in the near future the institutional development by the XY-balanced criterion and sustainable economic growth will depend on the effectiveness of measures to curb strengthening the informal vending institutions in the business environment.