Cadres and Managers. Changing Patterns of Recruitment of Economic Leaders in a Planned Economy

Lengyel, Gy├Ârgy
June 2005
Historical Social Research;2005, Vol. 30 Issue 2, p25
Academic Journal
This paper is about the criteria of selection of leaders of the Hungarian - and some other East European --planned economies. It deals with the connections of these criteria with education and career patterns. It interprets the changes in terms of professionalization and cadrification. It argues that because this processes are interwoven the emphasis between loyalty and education (or to put it in the immanent terminology of personnel policy: among the categories of political responsibility, professional knowledge and the skills of leadership) has been slightly altered during the decades of state socialism. But behind the balance of loyalty and competence those social variables which were seriously taken into account in the personnel policy have been changed frequently and sometimes dramatically. It is intended to disclose that despite the basic similarities of socialist industrialization there were differences among the Eastern European societies, concerning the pace of cadre changes and the social-educational composition of the economic elites. It also suggests that one has to distinguish two levels of economic leadership from the very beginning of nationalization. In the light of empirical evidence the criteria of recruitment in the case of the planners-controllers and in the case of the enterprise managers were different. According to the Hungarian experiences the economic reform supported the process of professionalization, although the proportion of party members remained extremely high. With the systemic changes party membership lost and networks gained importance in the selection of the elite. Despite the importance of the subject literature on leaders in planned economies is rather scanty. A greater part of articles are managerial studies, while empirical contributions mainly survey the political elites rather than the leaders involved in the economic control sphere and at the helm of enterprises, a layer which is more difficult to reconstruct empirically. It is a specific feature of research on Hungarian leaders to use case studies or interviews. These methods, though most suitable for exploring the attitudes and interests of leader, mark out the boundaries of analysis as well. The data and information in the following represent mostly the Hungarian, and partly the Soviet, Polish and Czechoslovakian developments.


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