Social Economics: Premises, Findings and Policies

By Edward J.O'Boyle | Go to book overview

13

TELKOM TELETRA

A Polish manufacturer in transition from state enterprise to private company

Edward J.O'Boyle

Telkom Teletra is a state-owned and operated manufacturer of telecommunications equipment with offices and manufacturing facilities in the City of Poznan, Poland. Poznan has a population of 586,500 (Background Notes 1991:1), making it equivalent in population to the such U.S. cities as Boston and Washington, D.C. (Statistical Abstract 1993:42-4). Poznan is 306 kilometers west of Warsaw and 276 kilometers east of Berlin in the western part of Poland, which prior to World War II, was part of Germany.

The German influence in Poznan is clear even to a first-time visitor and the people of this part of Poland are quite explicit in regarding themselves as more highly skilled and industrious than Polish workers in other parts of the country. In Poznan, one hears that Poland is divided into an eastern part and a western part along an imaginary north-south line that lies about midway between Poznan and Warsaw. In Poznan, the disregard appears to be greatest for Poles living in the largely rural, agricultural southeastern part of the country.

If one accepts the word of Poles in Poznan as more than the usual regional braggadocio, Telkom Teletra may be especially instructive: it approximates a limiting case. That is, if workers in Poznan truly are superior to other Polish workers any problems that are traceable to Telkom Teletra's work force likely are no better or perhaps even worse elsewhere in Poland. 1

This author visited Telkom Teletra on three occasions in 1991: April 17, April 22, and May 7. On all three occasions, a person employed by the company served as interpreter. The initial visit was arranged by the president of Poznan School of Management, who knew the senior management and who participated in that visit, assisting with the interpretation. The second and third visits were arranged directly by this author. An

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