The New Russian Business Leaders

The New Russian Business Leaders

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Stanislav V. Shekshnia, Konstantin Korotov and Elisabeth Florent-Treacy

Based on extensive interviews with the pioneers of Russian business and the authors’ own experiences, this perceptive new book attempts to decipher the enigma of Russia’s new generation of business leaders. The authors present six in-depth case studies focusing on companies of vastly differing sizes, ranging from a newly-privatized operation, and the creation and organization of an oligarch’s empire, to several entrepreneurial start-ups in different service industries. The case studies document the changes and developments that have occurred in Russia since the privatization era of the 1990s, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the emerging business leadership orientations.

Chapter 3: The Bolshevik Evolution Commentary: Jacques Ioffé’s Bolshevik Evolution

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Stanislav V. Shekshnia, Konstantin Korotov and Elisabeth Florent-Treacy

Subjects: business and management, business leadership


3. The Bolshevik evolution In designing our research strategy for this book, we decided that the best way to show the incredibly rapid pace and scope of the transformation in Russian business leadership would be to write a series of case studies. The massive and unprecedented transfer of equity from the Soviet State to private owners in 1992–1996 was lauded by some and bitterly criticized by others. What cannot be disputed is that this was the ground zero for the development of Russian capitalism. Therefore, with this case we begin at the beginning, by following and analysing the implications of this privatization process first hand, within one company. In 1999, we contacted Jacques Ioffé, the General Director of the Bolshevik Biscuit Factory, who agreed to let us interview him and visit his factory several times. Bolshevik was one of the first ex-Soviet factories to be privatized, and one of the first to be acquired by a Western corporation. When we met him, Ioffé had been at the head of Bolshevik for two years. Over the four years that we studied Bolshevik, we saw an archetypical Soviet factory, formerly run by a ‘Red’ director according to the dictates of a planned central economy, transformed into a subsidiary of a global organization, although it should be noted, not a fully integrated subsidiary. We have tried to identify the factors that led to the success of this transformation. Was it due to the relative benevolence and long-term strategy of the acquiring French...

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