The Impact of Societal
Transformation on Czech Managers:
A Study of Post-Communist Careers 1
It has been more than ten years since the Velvet Revolution and new or ‘reconstructed’ managers have started to replace the generation of senior managers (already in their fifties or coming up to retirement) who were active before 1989. The purpose of this chapter is to explore the views of Czech enterprise directors and managers regarding the course of their careers as they reflect on the decisions and choices they made within the context of communist and postcommunist times.
Until the Revolution in 1989, the possibility of access to conduct field research at the level of the enterprise was practically impossible for Western researchers. After the invasion of 1968 the decision of the Communist Party to re-establish a ‘normalization’ (Renner, 1989; Simecka, 1984) of life in Czechoslovakia meant a return to a 1950s style strict control of social, economic and political life, which continued up to the late 1980s and restricted the possibilities for empirical research. The purpose of this research project is to contribute to filling in some of these micro-level research gaps. The chapter is structured in the following way: the next section is a review of the literature on careers, the third section discusses how the particular historical development of Czech society has affected the development of management careers. The fourth section outlines the research project and gives some more details about the respondents, the fifth section consists of three brief career histories; and this is followed by a concluding discussion.
While there is an extensive literature on the concept of a career and its relationship to managers and organizations, the study of careers is frag-