BASEES Annual Conference 2022

State-Owned Enterprises, Local Communities and the Changing Perception of Organisational Heroes/’Heroes’: The Czech Case

Fri8  Apr04:00pm(20 mins)
Teaching Room A


Anna Soulsby


In the case of post-communist societies, a particular problem is coming to terms with and evaluating the reputations of managers who had powerful roles in the life of the organisation and the local community. A feature of life in pre-1989 Czechoslovakia was the close relationship between the enterprises and the local communities. The managers and workers often lived in the same apartment blocks on the housing estates. The reputations of some managers who were originally regarded a ‘heroes’ have been re-evaluated in both the enterprise and the community. Before 1989, there were some outstanding characters that wielded power as part of the Communist system but were not seen as organisational ‘heroes’. Other managers had powerful ‘unofficial’ reputations but were not promoted because they did not engage in party politics, or because the party had barred them as dissidents. Some past managers, who were committed communists, are regarded as excellent at directing enterprises within the constraints of the pre-1989 period. The paper explores the changing local perceptions in the enterprises and communities of the concept of a ‘hero’ within the pre-and post-communist period and the consequences for managers who chose to comply with system, resist the system or to actively take part in the regime. The paper is based upon a longitudinal fieldwork study of former state-owned enterprises and local communities conducted by the author since 1992 in the Czech Republic.