Capitalism from Outside? Economic Cultures in Eastern Europe after 1989

By János Mátyás Kovács; Violetta Zentai | Go to book overview

Reason, Charisma, and the Legacy of the Past
Czechs and Italians in Živnostenská Bank

Irena Kašparová1


Introduction

Characteristics of the field and data

Živnostenská Bank has traditionally been a Czech bank—a kind of national family jewel. Yet, it was the first bank in the Czech Republic to be taken over by foreign capital and has subsequently changed owners twice within two years. It is currently owned by UniCredito Italiano (UCI).

When conducting the case study in Živnostenská, two major sources of information were used: written information—mainly the online sources generally available to the public (websites, newsletters, promotional leaflets, and annual reports)—that became the backbone for the bank’s history and later proved vital to the researchers while interviewing the bank’s management.

We interviewed both the Italian and Czech management and employees. Ten interviews were conducted with three Italian top managers working in the Prague headquarters, three Czech top managers, also working in the Prague headquarters, and four lower-level managers and employees who work in the bank’s Brno branch. The Italian mother company does not employ its nationals in lower positions of Živnostenská, thus the Czech interviewees are overrepresented in the sample.

Živnostenská was the first foreign work experience for the majority of its Italian managers. Before coming to the Czech Republic, they had mostly worked in the New Europe division of their bank. They were all men over 40 years of age, working for the mother company for more than 15 years.

These facts were in slight contrast to the characteristics of the Czech management, which was younger (all below 40 years of age)

1 With the kind cooperation of Lenka Štěpánová.

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