Communing with Eastern European Business Information

By Ojala, Marydee | Online, January 1991 | Go to article overview

Communing with Eastern European Business Information


Ojala, Marydee, Online


You've probably heard the same cliches. "Peace is breaking out all over." "The Iron Curtain is rusting." "The Berlin Wall is crumbling like a cookie." All are meant to signify that the Communist regime no longer exists in Eastern Europe. Capitalism is on the ascent. Western business, taking this as a positive sign, is moving in. Concepts probably undefined in most Eastern European languages are making inroads in the countries. Words like profit, investment, private ownership, and capitalism itself are intruding in Eastern Europe. The Western press is having a field day talking about joint ventures, buyouts of Eastern European companies by Western companies, and the Eastern European consumer market. Eastern Europe has suddenly, precipitously, been forced to center stage. This unexpected development has created a need for business information on Eastern Europe. This is a tall order, considering the communist and socialistic background of these countries.

As is true with online searches in any geographic region, the first step is to define the countries involved. With Eastern Europe, this is not difficult. The countries, at the broadest level, are Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, USSR, and Yugoslavia. Granted, Albania is problematic. It has never been in the Russian sphere, preferring the ideological bent of Chinese Communism. From an online business searchers' point of view, it hardly matters. There is not much business to be transacted with Albania. There are other terms relevant to the older entity of Eastern Europe. COMECON was the Communist equivalent of the European Common Market. Eastern Bloc (not block) is another now-outdated term. Should you wish to do a comprehensive free-text search for Eastern Europe, you will need to OR the country names together. You will, of course, have to truncate them so that you will retrieve both Hungary and Hungarian, Czech and Czechoslovakia. Romania can also be spelled Rumania and, very occasionally, Roumania. The USSR is also known as Russia and Soviet Union (not a problem on NEXIS, since Mead's equivalency tables ensure that a search on any of the three will retrieve all instances). Then there's East Germany, DDR, Democratic Republic of Germany, and German Democratic Republic. Remember, too, that Eastern European countries are sometimes referred to as East Europe. The latter is not as common. For example, NEXIS' CURRNT file has some 3500 documents talking about Eastern Europe, but it also has 250 documents that refer to East Europe.

CODING EASTERN EUROPE

Some databases have established codes for Eastern European countries. ABI/INFORM now uses the country code 9176 (cc=9176 on DIALOG) for Eastern Europe. They have also established the descriptor term Eastern Europe. Predicasts prides itself on its coding system. The country codes for Eastern Europe fall under the 6" category in its country coding series. You'll notice that searching for CC=6 on DIALOG or C6 on Data-Star will provide comprehensive retrieval for all Eastern European countries. The rigid hierarchical coding scheme employed by Predicasts works very effectively - as long as nothing changes. Eastern Europe is changing. One of the most visible changes is the integration of East Germany into West Germany. Predicasts uses the code 6EAG for East Germany. Eventually this code will drop out of the system. Already, abstracters are using the phrase "united Germany" in abstracts, essentially establishing a controlled vocabulary term not found in any descriptor field. The difficulty from Predicasts' point of view is coming up with a solution that will work across media. What is an easy online fix won't necessarily benefit the printed indexes.

Predicasts' INFOMAT INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS database takes a different approach to coding country information. They use a double code, each half of which can be searched independently. Most East European countries are coded by a three letter acronym, e. …

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