Academic journal article Journal of East European Management Studies

The Development of Small Enterprises in Bulgaria, Czech Republic and the Russian Federation*

Academic journal article Journal of East European Management Studies

The Development of Small Enterprises in Bulgaria, Czech Republic and the Russian Federation*

Article excerpt

During the past, the evaluation of the chances of economic transformation and development of Eastern Europe was largely shaped by the view on the modernization and organizational restructuring of large enterprises/combines. Various scholars were sceptical how far these could contribute to a functioning market economy, due to their heritage from the planned economy. The authors therefore investigated how far small entrepreneurs support the transformation process to a market economy. Quantitative and qualitative research was done in Bulgaria, Czech Republic and the Russian Federation in 2003 and 2004 to provide a comprehensive image about the milieu of small enterprises and their ways of operation.

In der Vergangenheit wurden die Chancen ökonomischer Transformation und der Entwicklung Osteuropas von der Perspektive der Modernisierung und organisationale Umstrukturierung der Großunternehmen/Kombinate betrachtet. Es herrschte Skepsis, ob sie mit ihrem Erbe der Planwirtschaft zu einer funktionierenden Marktwirtschaft beitragen könnten. Deshalb untersuchten die Autoren, inwieweit Kleinunternehmer den Transformationsprozess zur Marktwirtschaft unterstützen. In den Jahren 2003 und 2004 führten die Autoren quantitative und qualitative Forschung in Bulgarien, Tschechien und der Russischen Föderation durch, um ein möglichst umfassendes Bild zu erhalten über das Milieu von Kleinunternehmen und ihre Art zu operieren.

Keywords: transformation, small entrepreneurs, networks, Russia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria

Researched topic

In this article the results of a research project on small enterprises in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and the Russian Federation1 will be discussed. During the years 2003 and 2004 we collected quantitative and qualitative data.2 The 180 questionnaires per country provided a general data basis with regard to questions of the foundation and growth of small enterprises and their economic environment. With the additional 30 qualitative interviews per country we deepened knowledge on the conducts of life (Lebensführung) in the social milieu of small enterpreneurs3 and investigated their role in the transformation process to get a comprehensive image of small enterprises in post-socialist contexts and transformation processes.

Due to the specific historical preconditions we believe that the dynamics on the historical path of economic modernization in Western Europe cannot be assumed to happen automatically but with retardation in Eastern and MiddleEurope (the catching-up modernization argument). Already quite soon after the implosion of the Eastern bloc, Stark (1994) and Staniszkis (199Ib) put forward strong arguments against a transformation concept which considered abrupt change occurring in that region as the simultaneous break with the old socialist system, the rapid democratization, the opening-up of the markets and the rapid economic development. Instead they brought up to the topic of 'continuity and change' (Dittrich 1991) and a conception of emergent 'political capitalism', which is specific to Middle and Eastern Europe (Staniszkis 199 Ia; Stark 1994; Tatur 1998; Dittrich 2001).They argued that this type of capitalism aims at channelling state resources into private pockets, externalizing private costs on state and society, and opening up access to the state financial infrastructure.

Our and other researchers' experience shows the importance of horizontal networks of personal relations in economic and everyday lives. They are shaped by clear-cut norms of rights and obligations and a perceived moral boundary between those being included and excluded. The result of such a view is different codes of conduct (Schrader 1994) that are based on reciprocity and redistribution (Gouldner 1960; Polanyi 1979; Gregory 1997) within the networks, and impersonal profit seeking and even overreaching outside of them (Yurkova 2004).

In the past, the evaluation of the chances of economic transformation and development of Eastern Europe was largely shaped by the view of the modernization and organizational restructuring of large enterprises/combines. …

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