Max Turov


Russian organization man

(Autumn 1960)

From International Socialism (first series), No. 2, Autumn 1960, p. 35.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The Red Executive. A Study of the Organization Man in Russian Industry
David Granick
Macmillan and Co. Ltd. 21s.

This is an interesting book. It makes a comparative study of management in the USSR and the USA.

When describing to American businessmen the set-up in Soviet industry, their reaction was:

“Why, the Russian managers use the same gimmicks as we do! ... The Russians have the same organizational problems, and the same ways of handling them ... I had rediscovered the American world of management, they said.” (pp. 15–16)

The factory manager in Russia is as privileged as his “brother under the skin” in America:

“It seems reasonable to think of plants with a total labour force of 500-1500 employees as receiving something in the order of five to six times the earnings of the average worker. To see this in American terms, the average wage earned by an American worker employed all year in manufacturing in 1957 was $4,300. An American plant director would have to earn $22,000 a year in order to attain the same position relative to the average American worker as the Russian director holds compared with the American worker.”

If the Russian manager is very similar to the American, the Russian worker too is not unlike his American brother. The Russian worker's reaction to pressure from above is compared to that of the American: “Just like American workers, Russians are concerned with avoiding speed-ups which lead to more work for the same money ...” (p. 211) As in the USA, the Russian manager finds the most difficult bottleneck to overcome that of “output restrictions by workers.” In both countries workers show resistance to the shift-work system.

The similarity in the set-up in the Russian and American factory shows itself above all in the relation between workers and foreman.

“Managements in both countries have regularly wrestled with the issue of what to do with the foreman; they have come up with virtually identical theoretic solutions; and they have shared the same disappointment with the practical results achieved.” (p. 277)

The privileges of the factory managers and Party officials explain the conservative policies of the Soviet rulers.

“Neither the Red Executive nor his Party-official colleague is any longer the revolutionary of the 1920’s ... When Marx in the Communist Manifesto appealed for world revolution, he addressed himself to the worker who had ‘nothing to lose but his chains.’ The Red Executive and the Party administrator have a great deal more to lose – and they know it well. Their attitude toward world revolution and other threats to peace must inevitably bear the imprint of this knowledge.” (p. 319)

Last updated on 3 February 2017