Transforming the Core: Restructuring Industrial Enterprises in Russia and Central Europe

Article excerpt

Maurice Ernst, Michael Alexeev, and Paul Marer. Transforming the Core: Restructuring Industrial Enterprises in Russia and Central Europe. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996. xx, 313 pp. Index. $59.95, cloth. $19.95, paper.

In some ways, time has not been kind to this book. First published in 1996, and probably written circa 1994-95, it assesses industrial restructuring during the first years of the transformation of the Russian, Polish, Czech and Hungarian economies, with comparative analyses of the contemporaneous transformation of the Chinese economy. At this time, the former command economies of Europe and the Russian Federation faced enormous challenges in restructuring their state-owned industries and in developing a market economy. Although industrial restructuring has developed apace in the ensuing period, utilising several privatization programmes and varying degrees of government involvement, there are many factors discussed in the book which remain relevant to present-day research in transformation economies. However, some of the commentary within the initial two chapters and the authors' conclusions and views of the future are now-understandably-comparatively dated.

The authors rightly highlight the importance of this comparative approach to the evaluation of restructuring strategies, while at the same time assessing what they see as emerging forms of corporate governance and identifying the differing starting positions within the selected countries and the different transformation methods and trajectories chosen. The book is organized on a country-by-country basis, following a general introduction and chapters discussing initial conditions and performance during the transformation period. There is also some discussion on policies affecting state enterprises. The book concludes with an overall analysis of the various economic transformations, discussing lessons arising from them, together with a discussion of future prospects.

The detailed country-based evaluations provide important insights into the factors influencing transformational processes and decision-making in the restructuring of industrial enterprises in each country. The accompanying tables and charts provide a good background understanding of both progress and performance. The initial chapters dealing with comparative issues in the transformation process provide some interesting points on how initial starting conditions and historical differences accounted for different policies and practices being employed. …