Transforming Russian Enterprise: From State Control to Employee Ownership

Article excerpt

John Logue, Sergey Plekhanov, and John Simmons, eds. Transforming Russian Enterprises: From State Control to Employee Ownership. Contributions in Economics and Economic History, Number 168. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995. xviii, 282 pp. Bibliography. Index. $65.00, cloth.

The restructuring of business enterprises in Russia as part of the country's economic reform has been undertaken in quite different ways from those of other former command economies. This book provides some indications of why this might be so, particularly in the discussion of employee ownership and worker involvement in the governance of firms and the ways in which this has affected the privatization process.

As with many edited books, the individual chapter authors bring a wide range of perspectives to the discussion. The various chapters range between historical analyses, case studies of contemporary privatization trajectories, comparative studies and future projections, making it a varied and interesting publication, although the publication date means that some "future" projections have been rather overtaken by events, while others have still not come to fruition.

The book consists of three parts-historical and theoretical perspectives, case studies in Russian employee ownership and a comparative analysis of Russian and American models of ownership and management in employee-owned enterprises. In the first section, various features of employee ownership in Russia are explored, the historical analysis being particularly valuable as it is impossible to understand the Russian process of privatization without this insight. In many ways, the historical underpinning of employee involvement can be utilised in explaining the different privatization trajectories in Russia, compared to those in European transformation economies. The authors trace developments in separate historical periods; for example, Robert Clawson analyses developments between Stalin's death and the beginning of the Gorbachev period, as well as the various levels and pathways of reforms during that period.

The second section comprises six case studies that are utilised to assess the impact of reforms at the fine level. The various firms were privatized in different legal forms and therefore differences in the development of internal structures and cultures ensued. However, there existed several common factors, which serve to make comparative analysis valuable. …