Advancing Management Research on Post-Socialist Transition

Article excerpt

Dear Reader,

While post-socialist transition in Eastern Europe conventionally ended, the scientific research on the respective process and its implications is advancing. The endeavour of managing market-oriented transformations on organizational and corporative levels caused a transformation in management itself, in terms of underlying concepts, models, practices and cultures. Rules postulated by mainstream management theory, conceived in and for established capitalistic economies, were sharply challenged by the series of unprecedented exceptions increased by post-socialist transition. Moreover, in former socialist countries of Europe, the shift from command to market-system unfolded in parallel with the passage from industrial to information societies and, in most cases, with their progression towards EU membership. Thus, the respective transition economies became "a tremendously interesting research laboratory for scholars interested in organizational and management issues" (Michailova/Liutho, 2001). The prevalence of empirical approaches over conceptual ones, the wide use of narrative, the quest for new research methods or the key role of local researchers' tacit knowledge were characteristic for this emerging knowledge production stream. As to the traditional assumption of having management practices rooted in theories communicably espoused, this was not the case of organizations in post-socialist transition economies; instead, managers, selfmade or trained, often had to fill that gap by thinking out-of-the-box, improvising and adopting ad-hoc solutions to their numerous 'Gordian knot'type problems.

This special issue gathers the updated versions of selected papers presented at the 1 1th Conference of the European Academy of Management (EURAM) held in Tallinn, Estonia, between 1st and 4 June, 2011.

The contributing authors are investigators with well-established commitment in the study of post-socialist transition.

Ivanova and Castellano tackle post-socialist transition context in terms of their institutional fragility and high uncertainty that forces organizations to act under random opportunities and scarce information, thus increases business vulnerability, particularly in the case of SMEs. Using a Partial Least Squares (PLS) regression model, a sample of 77 small companies in Bulgaria's IT sector was analyzed from the point of view of their needs for legitimacy and ways of signalling it towards their respective audiences. In the given context, the functional side of legitimacy mainly depends on the company's innovativeness, its access to industry information as well as involvement in partnerships endorsed by global industry leaders; in turn, the relational side of legitimacy mainly relies on company's client reputation, physical footprint and age. Overall, a statistically significant positive correlation was detected between an organization's legitimacy and its profit-making. The features and correlations identified within the respective sample are assumed to be valid throughout the overarching category of Seems that seek after long-term outsourcing contracts in transition environments.

Serdukov studies the role of sense-making in the formation of managerial practices in Astrakhan, based upon observation on a small social group of business owners and top managers, "The New Generation", formed in the early years of the post-soviet period. A 13-year longitudinal empirical study was undertaken, the conceptual grounds which are drawn from the social representations theory, while the methodological ones mainly consist of narratives (case studies, interviews and press surveys). The subtle process is revealed that leads to the emergence of "normalized" managerial practices despite inherent turbulence of post-socialist transition and limited familiarity with Western-type management principles. Individual representations built by managers on their own organizations and business environments cognition, further refined by social interactions whereby shared meanings occur, come up to underlie managerial thinking, discourse and action. …