perestroika (pər´ĕstroy´kə), Soviet economic and social policy of the late 1980s. Perestroika [restructuring] was the term attached to the attempts (1985–91) by Mikhail Gorbachev to transform the stagnant, inefficient command economy of the Soviet Union into a decentralized market-oriented economy. Industrial managers and local government and party officials were granted greater autonomy, and open elections were introduced in an attempt to democratize the Communist party organization. By 1991, perestroika was on the wane, and after the failed August Coup of 1991 was eclipsed by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the establishment of the Russian Federation, and other dramatic political, legal, and economic changes.
See M. Gorbachev, Perestroika (1988); E. A. Hewett and V. H. Winston, ed., Milestones in Glasnost and Perestroyka (1991).