Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Organisational ‘Heroes’ and ‘Anti-Heroes’ in State-Owned Enterprises in Czechoslovakia

Fri31  Mar01:00pm(15 mins)
James Watt South Stephenson Room


Anna Soulsby1
1 Nottingham University Business School, UK


This paper will explore the concept the worker and manager hero in the context of Czechoslovakia. From a Western perspective, there is a fairly well-established concept of a hero but within the complex turmoil of the history of central and eastern Europe in the twentieth century the concept takes on a much more nuanced context. The concept of ‘hero’ and the Stakhanovite worker within Soviet terminology will be discussed in the light of managers and workers behaviour both before and after 1968. Some were presented in the local enterprises and towns as ‘worker heroes’ within the communist discourse and system and were promoted as part of the nomenklatura. There were also some outstanding characters that wielded power as part of the Communist system but were not seen as organisational ‘heroes’ by the workers in the enterprises or by the local community. Some past managers, who were committed communists, were regarded as excellent. Other managers were demoted and resisted the imposition of the Party’s controls after 1968. They became ‘anti-heroes’, they 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. Yet they had standing and admiration in the enterprises for their actions or technical expertise. The empirical basis for the paper is an on-going longitudinal of former state-owned enterprises and local communities conducted by the author since 1991.