Critical Management Research in Eastern Europe: Managing the Transition

By Mihaela Kelemen; Monika Kostera | Go to book overview

2
Geographic Space, Banking
Knowledge, and Transformation
Herbert Kalthoff

Introduction

This chapter is intended as a contribution to the analysis of those decision-making processes within the banking industry that lead to the structuring of operative units. The chapter's subject matters are ‘feasibility studies’ on the economic potential of the geographic space (‘countries’ and ‘regions’) in which banks plan the structuring of their geographic presence. In the case at hand, this will be exemplified by the situation of international commercial banks in Central and Eastern European countries, the so-called transformation countries. 1 The empirical material for this study was gathered via participant observation in two international banks in Poland and Bulgaria over several months. Further I conducted interviews with senior staff and employees responsible for Central Europe in bank headquarters in Frankfurt on Main and Munich and in subsidiaries and/or branch offices in Warsaw, Prague, and Sofia. Added to these were interviews with the corporate banking department and risk management staff in the headquarters of a French commercial bank in Paris. 2

From a sociological vantage point, expert economic reports are interesting for several reasons. In this chapter I will concentrate on just one area, namely the production of knowledge in decision-making situations involving a degree of uncertainty. I shall question whether procedures and negotiation processes are implemented in banking practice to enable statements to be made concerning potential economically prosperous regions. More specifically, the problem of generating knowledge for reducing present uncertainty is that banking people operate in a ‘boundary realm’ of knowledge — in the sense of ‘liminal knowledge’ (Knorr-Cetina, 1999). This ‘boundary realm’ is determined

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