Culture and Negotiated Meanings
Edited by Henriett Primecz, Laurence Romani and Sonja Sackmann
Chapter 9: Negotiating Meaning Across Borders (Finally!): Western Management Training in Eastern Europe
Snejina Michailova and Graham Hollinshead INTRODUCTION In this chapter we examine evolution in the design and development of Western management training initiatives in Bulgaria over a period of over a decade. A starting proposition for our analysis is that the orchestrated flow of management knowledge from West to East, instigated by prominent Western agencies, has occurred in a fashion that has been insensitive to the existing stock of knowledge and precise training needs of indigenous (local) participants. Indeed, as a concomitant of the precipitous flow of financial assistance into the East European (EE) region, we argue that the flow of knowledge ‘aid’ has been predicated on underlying precepts of the benefits of ‘shock therapy’ and carried with it the exhortation for rapid and perhaps unachievable managerial and organizational change. AID PROGRAMMES IN EASTERN EUROPE There has been recognition over the period of reform that EE countries have sorely needed outside help (Benson and Clay, 1992). In the wake of the revolutions in 1989, the Group of 24 industrialized countries embarked on aid programmes in Hungary and in Poland with the European Union (EU) taking the major role (Turnock, 1997). Initially, aid was offered in return for the acceptance of five basic values: the rule of law, respect for human rights, free elections, political pluralism and progress towards a market economy (Pelkmans and Murphy, 1991). Technical assistance to promote trade was fostered by the programme of Pologne-Hongrie Actions pour la Reconversion Economique (PHARE) which prioritized the following areas: food aid and...