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