Networking into a business career

A new generation of Russian managers

Oksana Shmulyar
Paper presented at the Fourth Nordic Conference on the Anthropology of Post-Socialism, April 2002, by Oksana Shmulyar, Sociology Department, Gothenburg University

© Oksana Shmulyar. Distributed by
To download, print, or bookmark, click: To cite, quote this address and the download date. Not for commercial use. Please do not remove this notice from digital or paper copies of this text.


Table of contents

I. Introduction
II. Concepts and assumptions
III. Doing a business career in Russia: a case of managers

III.1 From the red executives to the post-Soviet managers
III.2 Networking into managerial career: advantages and disadvantages of personal contacts

IV. The empirical study
V. Findings and analysis

V.1. Management as a career
V.2. The (re)-production of ambition
V.3. How networks are used by the new generation of managers in Russia

Concluding remarks


Using informal networks is considered to be a pervasive practice in the Russian social and economic life. This paper will focus on career making in the so-called 'culturally new professions' in post-Soviet Russia, which emerged in abundance as a consequence of the market economy development. New market-oriented professions require special credentials and competence, which are often sought for in the Western oriented institutions and structures. These credentials alone do not guarantee a career promotion if not personal contacts and networks are involved. However, the question is how the networks are used in the new economic conditions. The micro-case of the study is drawn upon the in-depth interviews and participant observation of the graduates of one Western business school at St. Petersburg, educating in business administration and management. The graduates' career developments, enhanced by the new social, cultural and economic structures, will be particularly analysed in order to understand who is recruited to the 'culturally new professions' and how resources (family, network, education, cultural capital etc.) are mobilised to make a professional career possible in the new economy.

I. Introduction

After more than ten years since the market reforms has been launched in Russia there is still an on-going discussion about weather Russia has become a society with a well-functioning market economy. The arguments differ, however, most of the authors agree upon at least few things. To begin with, the Western advisors, who enthusiastically introduced the market idea to the Yeltsin's cabinet, failed to account that their policy prescriptions were to be implemented

"in the context of a particular society - a society with a particular history, with a certain level of social capital, with a particular set of political institutions, and with political processes affected by (if not determined by) the existence of particular political forces" (Stiglitz 1999).

Furthermore, the very concept of capitalism as an economic system, with the market economy as its core, has been profoundly transformed during the last decades, and not even in the West does capitalism take a form universal for all countries. It particularly means that both the Russian reformers and their Western counterparts have basically misinterpreted many capitalistic incentives, such as private property, competition, profit and decentralisation, among others, which have mainly being used by the Russian elite as means for the

"enriching themselves by the way of appropriation of as much as possible of the state property, however not for the investment in the production, but for hiding the money abroad" (Månson 2002:18).

Under these conditions, the present Russian economy is often labelled as a "market Bolshevism" (Reddeway 2001), "nomeklatura capitalism" (Humphrey 2000) or "failed crusade" (Cohen 2000). A prevailing popular image in Russia that mirrors those arguments is that gangsters and 'New Russians' or oligarchs are ruling the new Russian capitalism (Balzer 2001). A common assumption behind these judgements is that the imposition of the market reforms from above, using the methods of political manipulation and short-handed economic policies has failed. The explanations to this failure are often found in the previous Russian experience of economic reforms, when corruption and semi-legal activities of the elites led to disastrous consequences. These explanations, however, are only part of the whole story (Månson 2002). Yet it is difficult not to agree with these assumptions, taken into account the estimations that many ordinary Russians would not be able to survive on the incomes of their primary employment, without a well-developed net of exchange of favours among relatives and friends, without performing numerous secondary jobs, hunting extra incomes, by trading fruits and vegetables produced at their country side plots or simply consuming those within their own, often extended, households (Clarke 1999, Rose 1999).

Generally speaking, these judgements would imply that there have been very few positive consequences of the Russian transformation. However, even being a few, it is essential, I think, to analyse those positive lines of development, in order to avoid

"an extensively narrow interpretation of path dependency [which] may divert attention from the potential for change over time" (Balzer 2001:382).

This implication closely relates to that of the Russian economist Nesterenko (2001:84), who argues, "Although history matters, human effort matters too". It means, in particular, that the trajectory of current development in Russia is not predestined. Keeping this in mind, I would like to sociologically explore what social actors do actually make an effort in bringing the economic and social reforms in Russia further on? How do they act within the framework of the new economic conditions? What makes them to believe that the Russian market economy, even though suffering some imperfections, does actually have good prospects? These questions are rather broad and they will be addressed especially in the larger project.(1)

At the same time, these general questions set a frame of reference for a more specific subject, which will be a major concern of this article. Namely, here I intend to analyse a rather particular, but extending social phenomenon in the current Russian society, namely pursuing a professional business career under the conditions of the market economy. The material collected for my dissertational project, which draws upon in-depth interviews and participant observations among a new generation of Russian managers, who recently graduated from one Western business school operating at St. Petersburg, will be specifically examined on the issue of networking into the business career. The choice of this group was maid mainly because Russian managers of the new generation belong to a number of the so-called 'culturally new professions', which emerged in abundance during the market reforms. The occupation of a professional manager is considered to be not only the most popular, but as well one of the most rewarding financially in the today's Russia (Fukolova 2000). It is also among these specialists that usage of personal networks in finding a good job or promotion to a better position is highly pronounced (Clarke 2000).

That is why, analysing the problem of networking into professional business career theoretically and empirically, I will seek the answers for the following questions: Why networks are extensively used in career making? Do they acquire new meanings in today Russia and what heritage do they carry on from the Soviet past? What kind of capitals (cultural, social, economic) are involved in the process of business career making? For the purposes of this paper, I will begin with a short discussion on the theoretical concepts and assumptions that lead my research. Secondly, I will touch upon a historical background of the Soviet managerial class, as well as the current situation with networking into managerial positions in Russia, which both may shed a light on those differential principles that structured the Soviet society and continue to characterise the economic and social relations in today's Russia. Finally, I will present an analysis of selected interviews focusing specifically on the issues of networking into a business career, which will hopefully illustrate how a new generation of Russian managers acquire, accumulate and transform the cultural capital with the help of old and new networks, as well as what meaning do they prescribe to these networks.

II. Concepts and assumptions

In this paper I will use the concept of networks in its sociological meaning as "social ties between people…relationships between friends, leisure associations, professional contacts" (Ledeneva 2001:62). Obviously this definition limits my attention from other dimensions of networking discussed elsewhere. In my case it is not a variety of networks, but rather the nature of their construction and operation in the current Russian society that will be in my focus. The phenomenon of networking or connections is not a particularly inherent Russian phenomenon. Networks and connections are used in many countries for various purposes, and in economic terms they are often necessary for raising a capital, for establishing a stable collaboration or for finding the best solution to a particular business problem. Increasingly many sociologists and economists have been preoccupied with the usage of networks for finding a job, for job promotion or establishing a private entrepreneurship.(2) What is interesting, though, is that despite the fact that networking is considered to be a vital part of any functioning economy, sociologists and economists make a clear distinction between networks based purely on economic (rational) relations and those based on non-economic (or personified) relations (Granovetter 1995). According to Granovetter, there is a strong believe that in the pre-capitalistic societies it is the personified and bounding networks that dominate the economic relations. Furthermore, they not only hold back, but also prevent the "true" (modern) economic development. Granovetter (1995) himself opposes these arguments by making a profound analysis of those pre-capitalistic societies where personal connections, combined with a specific structure of social interaction based on trust and wider social networks, do lead to an economic success.

This theoretical analysis of particular pre-capitalistic societies is illuminating for the understanding of the contemporary Russian reality. On the one hand, it is argued that Russian network society is in its advent, where the new economy still coexists with the barter and natural resource economies, nonetheless they all rely on new social institutions and new economic agents (Castells 2000). On the other hand, current Russian economy is often discussed in terms of corruption, client-patron relationships and extended informal networks distorting the development of formal market institutions (Ledeneva 2001). It is also in personal relations that people often complain about the absence of trust to one's own neighbour or the deterioration of solidarity among ones colleagues and friends. In other words, one could even speak about the collapse of networks in the post-Soviet Russia.(3) All these arguments have their grounds, depending on what sphere of Russian economy and society we have in mind. For instance, among the driving forces for the network society, Castells (2000) points out a tiny layer of Russian professionals, mostly concentrated in the big cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg and working within those economic sectors that are widely dependent on the global economy and networks. The new private economy(4) begins to operate using what Castells considers as less personified, enabling and more open networks. While other economies in Russia, such as state and privatised ones, may still dwell on the principles of "Soviet economy of favours"(5), which instead subverts the formal economy by using the personal influence, unwritten rules and closed settings, as Ledeneva (2001) argues. The dilemma is that these 'ideal types of Russian economy' do not exist in their pure form. That is why even new private enterprises are faced with necessity to bring into play the old ways of doing business, namely avoiding the legislation, bargaining with authorities, tax evasion and the like (Humphrey 2000, Radaev 2000). Not the least are the informal networks, which previously could serve as a 'survival kit' for people to manage within the economy of deficit and privilege, used even as means to link to the global crime economy (Ledeneva 2001).

Naturally one could not expect that the formal and informal institutions of the Soviet type, as well as habits and patterns of behaviour they encouraged, would be able to change over such a short time. In relation to the phenomenon I study, it is unrealistic to assume that professional businessmen would be easily made out of the former directors and managers of the Soviet enterprises, which was actually one of the assumptions made at the early days of the market reforms (Bunin 1994). Neither can the contract relations or reliance on credentials rather than on personal qualities automatically substitute the role of personal connections and "favours of access"(6) in the process of job seeking. The very concept of career is acquiring a new meaning in the present economic conditions. According to Schein (1984:72)

"For socialist countries, career implied personal ambition above and beyond what might be justified or good for the system, and 'careerism' would, therefore, be viewed as a personal fault in the sense of a display of excess ambition".

Today, to be ambitious and career oriented are the most sailing values, as the leading recruiting firms in Russia indicate. That is why in this paper I will regard 'career' as a perception of occupational progress with both external (degree of prestige an occupation may have) and internal elements (respondents view on the importance of their career and their steps and progress over time)(7).

The fact that Russians prefer doing business with those whom they know is hardly deniable. But is it something in the Russian culture that triggers this practice? According to Granovetter (1973) and Bourdieu (1978)(8) both in the USA and France professional, technical and managerial specialists tend to find jobs via personal contacts as well as utilise personal ties to reinforce their economic status or influence. One could wonder if these Western patterns of the economic actions, likewise the 'economy of favours', undermine the formal structures and institution or do they indicate some other dimensions important for these societies?

To better understand this point I would like to introduce three other concepts, all three of them crucial for my study, namely the cultural, social and economic capitals. All of them have their origin in Bourdieu's earlier works, and have later on been elaborated in his insightful study of Distinction (1984) in the French society.(9) Although having strong connotations with the French bourgeoisie society, the concepts of social, cultural and economic capitals can be fruitfully used in other contexts as well, as Bourdieu (1994) himself argued. To begin with, I will shortly describe how Bourdieu himself defines these concepts.

The most profound tension characterising the social relations within the dominant class in the French society, according to Bourdieu, is generated within the field where the economic and the cultural capitals are confronting each other. 'Cultural capital', which may take various forms, such as educational level, titles, language capacities, possession of valuable information, etc., is traditionally a dominating form of resource, having a symbolical value in the French society (Broady 1991). That means that to be civilised or cultivated is much more appreciated in France than to be simply rich or possess other economic resources. According to Bourdieu, cultural capital, being so desired, is also subject to accumulation, transformation and even conversion among generations (via marriage), or social positions (via education and job recruitment). The transformation or conversion of the cultural capital into other resources, or visa verse, may only benefit being embedded in a wide net of ties and connections, what Bourdieu denotes as 'social capital'. In an article especially devoted to the connection between the cultural and social capital, Bourdieu (1986:248) defines the concept as

"the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalised relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition - or in other words, to membership in a group - which provides each of its members with the backing of the collectively owned capital".

Bourdieu (1986:246) further emphasised that the transmission of the cultural capital is the most "hidden form of hereditary transmission of capital", as it takes place within the family and can not be always measured in economic terms. It implies that the logic of transmission is based not only on the economic investment into the educational expanses, but as well on the investment of time, emotional and human support. In other words,

"a highly appreciated academic degree does not in itself guarantee further socially prosperous life trajectory; professional and other social achievements assumes that support from relatives, colleagues, friends or favourers can be mobilised, if necessary" (Broady 1991:177)(10).

Therefore, the process of transmission of the cultural capital into the economic one, or the economic one into the social one, is very time consuming and it demands a lot of efforts not only from the possessor of the capitals but also from her environment.

What is the most important in Bourdieu's concepts of capitals, which are only roughly outlined here, is that they are relational categories. They indicate horizontal relationships between the social positions and groups, which may possess the capitals of comparable value but of rather different kind (Broady 1991). It implies that using the concepts of cultural, social and economic capital one can attempt to grasp a complicated process of the social structure in construction as well as to determine what are those dominating principles (or symbolical values) that come to rule a society in question. In my case, these categories are extremely helpful to understand what kind of social relations are being created in the present day Russia. Indeed, similarly to the French society depicted by Bourdieu, the economic capital perceived as a "private good in a capitalist society" (Dinello 1998:293) has never enjoyed legitimate power in Russia. At the same time, the culture, or in Russian kulturnost(11), and social capital, a wide networks of relationships, constituted the core of the so-called "middle class normality", which allowed people, independently of their economic resources, to occupy relatively high social positions (Gronow 1997:61). The tension between these two kinds of resources, such as economic and cultural, is definitely transformed into the present Russian society, where a certain form of education, for instance a Western business education(12), may also provide a certain type of social capital, may be seen as a prerequisite for career mobility as well as an economic prosperity (Stolyarova 2001). At the same time, a mere acquisition of money as well as conspicuous consumption are looked down upon and lack any symbolic legitimacy in the Russian society, especially being strongly associated with the capitalist economy as their generator (Medvedev 1998, Shmulyar 2000).

Therefore, introducing Bourdieu's concepts of the cultural, social and economic capital I intend to argue that they significantly widen the perspective, undertaken both by the proponents and the opponents of the Russian network society (Ledeneva 2001, Castells 2000). Namely, these concepts allow us to understand why the social capital, which in the Russian context, besides family support or friendship, also acquired a form of blat, economy of favours (Ledeneva 1998) or the so-called F-connection (Dinello 1999), has such a pervasive character, not the least in the sphere of career making. One may wonder if social capital can instead be positively used for the creation of a stable business environment in Russia. Consequently, by using the Bourdieu's concepts of capital in the analysis of the Russian reality of today, my aim is to search for new differentiating principles of the post-Soviet society, where before "a social capital of political type" has been dominating the social relations (Bourdieu 1994:27). Such supremacy of the 'closeness to power' has, as it is well known, generated a favourable atmosphere for the privileges, blat and 'favours of access' to endure their power. To what extent the situation is different now is hard to comprehend fully, however some empirical observations suggest a beginning of change.

Having shortly discussed the main concepts relevant for this study, I will now single out three leading assumptions guiding my analysis of networking into professional business career among Russian managers. To begin with, despite a persistent nature of 'the economy of favours' in the Russian society, its importance may cease to be dominating, especially for the new market oriented professions, due to the influence of the global economy. However, social networks in form of support from ones family and friends, as well as building of trustful business environments, may acquire a decisive role for pursuing a professional career in business. Secondly, in exploring the process of change of ' the economy of favours' into something else it is essential to turn to the experiences of concrete individuals, in my case Russian managers of a new generation, who in their everyday life are constantly subject to enabling as well as abusive character of the informal networks. Finally, individual experiences of the Russian managers should be closely linked with a wider social context, in which one has to search for both historical and cultural explanations of the informal networking in order to understand it better.

III. Doing a business career in Russia: a case of managers

It is difficult to delineate the history of 'doing business' in Russia in comprehensive manner as it is intimately related to the political and social upheavals in the Russian history. A number of Western scholars argue that Russian entrepreneurial spirit has its origin in the community of Old Believers (Blackwell 1965, Gerschenkron 1970). Old Believes united religious private entrepreneurs in the Moscow region, who were particularly influential in big industries, commerce and finance of the early 19th century Russia. Their communities became known for their "cleanliness, honesty, reliability, frugality, industry and drift" (Gerschenkron 1970:34). In spite of that, the Russian state and ordinary population did not particularly appreciate either Old Believers or the later secularised circles of the Russian bourgeoisie. On the contrary, business oriented people were always considered as a threat to the Russian traditional values. This depreciation towards business people has a close resemblance to the one existing in Europe prior to the development of capitalism. For instance, in the 15th century the Dutch scholar and humanist Erasmus Rotterdamus characterised people doing business as

"the most foolish and vulgar people who exist... They are involved in the most pitiful and degrading craft one can imagine, and besides that they do it in the most shameless way; even though they lie, take false oaths, steal, swindle and always try to cheat on other people, they always force their way in order to be the first, that is why they always have their hands full of gold" (cited in Partapuoli 1998(13)).

As it is well known, this attitude to business has been significantly changed later on in Europe, however, in Russia it seems to preserve its pejorative connotation even until now (Shmulyar 2002).

According to Radaev (1997), the legacy of the Russian pre-revolutionary tradition of entrepreneurship did not fully disappeared during the Soviet time instead it was heavily transformed under the pressure of the Soviet power. Ever since the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia, the task of breeding ideologically devoted 'cadres' became acute. Indeed, many pre-revolutionary professionals in both cultural and industrial fields were forced into exile, disqualified or exterminated. For that reason by the end of NEP, in 1929, there were hardly any entrepreneurs or commercially oriented educated individuals from the pre-revolutionary time that remained at their positions, as a result of forced collectivisation, elimination of the private property and direct implementation of the social and economic policy of levelling (уравниловка). Egalitarian ideals were the key points of this policy, resulting in the rapid rise of a large working class mainly of rural origin. Many poor young peasants and workers were further educated to fill in the rapidly emerging positions of managers and specialists, so very much needed for building up the new state (Siegelbaum 1988, Gronow 1997). The remnants of the noble origin had often to hide their family background in order to pursue their careers or simply to survive (Bertaux 1997).

The social transformation during the 20's and 30's in Russian was characterised of an unprecedented "turnover of positions". Namely, as Moshe Lewin (1977, cited in Siegelbaum 1988:19), put it "the bulk of the population changed their social positions and roles, switched into a new class, a new job, or a new way of doing the same". The strategy of building new hierarchies and new social divisions became even more pronounced during the Stalin's reign. Already in the early 30's Stalin introduced a new policy, individualisation, which by means of 'shock labour' and socialist competition allowed the creation of a 'labour aristocracy', workers and industrial cadres, who enjoyed special privileges in form of additional living space, higher income and other social benefits (Siegelbaum 1988). By so doing, the system was promoting party-faithful individuals to the leading managerial positions, sometimes independently of their previous background (Kotkin 1995). The 'Great retreat' or the 'Big deal', as this period was later on referred to in Dunham (1976), can be considered as a kind of deviation from the revolutionary objectives towards stability and prosperity. Under these conditions, one can assume, making a career was indeed a matter of individual achievement, however strictly in the framework of the new Soviet ideology. By these means already by the end of 50's, most of the leaders of the Soviet economy were of genuinely 'Soviet' upbringing, meaning that they shared a common ethos of an instrumental commitment to the system, although they came from various social strata of the society (Dunham 1976).

Making a business career in the Western meaning, would hardly be possible during that time, because the main prerequisites for business making, namely the private property rights as well as accumulation of profit were absolutely absent from the Soviet idea of economy. Nevertheless, following Radaev (1997: 44-45), one can distinguish four main types of the Soviet business people (деловых людей), among which the majority, "almost 80-90 percent were disciplined managers, followed by experimentators, few shadow entrepreneurs (теневики) and private entrepreneurs (частники)". Of all these groups, one can distinguish the managers, as the largest one. Indeed, to reach the position of a manager was probably the most common way of making a career during the Soviet time. It is important to emphasise that the position of Soviet managers has been rather ambiguous over the times. As Siegelbaum (1988) points out, the storming features of the Soviet industrial reforms in the early 30's as well as later on required from managers not only special skills and education, desirably in technology, but also devotion and ability to manoeuvre between requirements of the high party officials and the ones from the workers at the shop floor. This peculiar managerial style was induced by the Soviet economic policy, full of contradictions and temporary solutions. That is why working over time, sacrificing own ambitions and struggling the emergencies, which already then characterised the Soviet type of management, are still the features that dominate the current Russian managers' work and life (Siegelbaum 1988, Radaev 1997).

III.1 From the red executives to the post-Soviet managers

Although there were few Western studies of the Soviet management during the Soviet time, they represent an important retrospect of educational practices and job placement for this particular category of the Soviet specialists. For instance, one of the classical works that should be mentioned here is The Red executive by David Granick (1960), who made a profound study of the Soviet managers, their ways of life and work, against the background of an American experience. According to Granick, most of the Soviet managers were engineers by education with only a basic knowledge of statistics or accounting. In contrast to their American colleagues, Soviet managers had to gain their organisational and administrative skills by experience, and not by business education. As Granick (1960:21) admitted there was a strong belief in the USA that: "For the Russian [manager], it was the dedicated professional revolutionary, moving into what ever line of endeavour the Communist party sent him, knowing little about the technical details of his industry, convinced that proper theory - both in social events and in the natural sciences - is a salvation of a mankind". Naturally, seen in this light, Soviet managers were treated with prejudice and a priori suppositions in the West, which Granick (1960) tried to object to. Among those prejudices were the Western beliefs that Soviet managers had no authority in decision-making, that they were placed at their positions deliberately and not according to their qualifications or that they had little economic incentives to perform their job properly.

Contrary to these assumptions, Granick (1960) has come with extremely interesting data collected in a close contact with the Russian working managers of that time. Some of the facts, analysed in the book are especially relevant for this paper, as they point out several underlying principles differentiating the Soviet society of that time. To begin with, most of the industrial managers of that time came from the families where at least one parent, often a father, was highly educated and held a qualified position. This fact corresponded perfectly well with the American reality as well, as Granick emphasised. However, seen in retrospect, this piece of information seriously contradicted the ideologically proclaimed idea of equal chances for the children of lower classes (workers or peasants) to get both high education and highly qualified jobs.(14) Furthermore, Soviet managers were keen on their jobs and "were not party fanatics" (Granick 1960:307). Yet most of them had to be members of the Communist party, as it was the only way to secure a stable career growth and possibility to reach top managerial positions. Besides, the motives for their professional growth were not so much economically determined, for the economic capital, in terms of possession of property or high income was limited to a very narrow stratum of party officials in the Soviet society. The others, closely linked to the Communist apparatus enjoyed something that can be called a 'political capital', which allowed a privilege of "the private acquisition of common goods and services" (Bourdieu 1994:27). Nevertheless, without being able to pass their economic resources to the next generation, Soviet managers were hardly empty handed with regard to others resources. Namely, Soviet managers as well as other highly educated specialists were very successful in transforming their ambitions and style of life by promoting their children towards high education, better jobs and in general a "democratic luxury" style of life (Gronow 1997).

Many things have changed since Granick's book was written. Still, his findings seem to me crucial to understanding of the later development of the Soviet economy and especially of the post-Soviet management, which has been radically influenced by the market reforms in Russia. Already from the mid-1980's management education has been introduced for both Communist party officials and the industrial managers of all levels (Puffer 1994). This education was still aimed at people, who already acquired their first university degree and aspired for higher managerial positions. Not until the end of 80's(15) could Russian as well Western business school deliver both full and part-time graduate education in management, which later on has become a profession, so very popular on the post-Soviet market. The amount of schools as well as their financing, curriculum, clientele and stuff are varying from time to time. In 1992, according to Puffer (1994), there were fifteen top business schools in Russia, mostly concentrated in the big cities. Today this amount is estimated to be over thirty. In addition, the number of the Western business schools operating in Russia and offering the degree of MBA has significantly increased, which prompted President Putin to adopt a resolution in March of 2000 legitimising even Russian MBA degrees as an educational standard (Lukjanova 2000).

The development of business education in today's Russia deserves much more attention than I can offer here. The issue, which I have to turn to, is instead the environment in which the professional business careers are pursued in the current Russian society. To make or have a business (дело) in Russia became a widely spread occupation since the reforms started in the beginning of the 90's. Many people have enthusiastically initiated their own firms and became self-employed after the privatisation process has evolved. However, I would argue that pursuing business, as a profession, is rather a new tendency invoked by the economic crisis of the 1998, as a result of which, the so-called, first wave of businessmen and entrepreneurs, who acquired a market experience by trial and error, has been swapped away. A new demand arose for professional businessmen, especially educated on the matters of ownership, strategic planning, accounting, advertising, marketing and management, to name a few. To strive after career in business acquired a new, more positive image even in the Russian public discourse. As Yurchak (2001) points out, the very term career, or careerist obtained quite another connotation to that one existing during the Soviet time. For example, if before, to be a careerist meant to be selfish and profit oriented, then now the real careerists are considered to be rather idealistic in their ambitions, they desire for doing new things and participate in challenging projects, and not for money or material well being. To manage the economic spheres, which previously either did not exist (for example, marketing, advertisement, consulting, etc.) or played a secondary role (for example banking, management, tourism, etc.) in the Soviet planned economy is a great challenge for the current Russian professional businessmen. One of the main challenges, though, is to find a good position on the Russian labour market, divided in a number of various sectors in between the state and the market economy. The networking into a business career seems to be the most fruitful way of finding a job.

III.2 Networking into managerial career: advantages and disadvantages of personal contacts

To start with the most drastic argumentation on this matter, outlined in several empirical studies by Simon Clarke (2000),(16) what we can observe in Russia is a "closure of the labour market". By this phenomenon Clark means that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a job on the Russian labour market without using the personal contacts. This is quite to the contrary of the efforts from the IMF and the World Bank, whose contribution went to the building of the Russian Employment offices, aimed at the effective regulation of the Russian labour force supply and demand. However, despite the fact that the economic crisis pushed many people to widen their job search channels, the personal contacts, in particular circle of family and friends continued to play a crucial role in both job search and job placement. What is more remarkable for my topic is that, following Clarke (2000), using personal contacts became not only necessary to get a better job, as it was usual in the Soviet times, but it became indispensable to get any job at all. This circumstance is especially relevant for the highly educated specialists, aspiring to managerial positions in the new private sector, where the chances to get a job can be closely related to having an acquaintance who can personally influence a job appointment from within the firm or enterprise. Supporting Granovetter's (1973) argument on the importance of the weak ties, qualified specialists seeking employment in the private sector tend to use wider social networks in comparison to lower qualified workers, who usually limit their search among family members.

The question, which may arise, is why professional managers would still rely on the personal contacts, instead of searching for job independently or applying to the Russian and Western recruiting agencies, which have expanded their operation on a private basis. As Clarke (2000) rightly suggests, the employees are not the only actors in this game. In other words, there is a strong tendency among the chief executives of the private companies and enterprises to lead the recruiting process personally and make sure that newcomers into the company are reliable and trustworthy people. This trend can be partly explained by the fact that the new private enterprises are still vulnerable with regard to their economic position and relation to the political and administrative power structures. The lack of trust into the formal qualifications and search for loyal employees are perceived as an outcome of the unstable business environment in the country (Clarke 2000). Besides this I would add one more dimension that promotes personal networks in the sphere of employment. It is namely the fact that many Russian managers are as well full owners of their own companies and firms. The combination of these roles, an owner and a manager, leads to serious confusion of responsibilities, which, among other things, forces Russian managers to put the task of survival of the enterprise above its effectiveness and legitimate way of operation. Not the least stipulates this circumstance a patron-client relations that worsens the chances of professional managers to find a job according to their qualifications and not based on their personal qualities (Krasnova 2000).

Giving all the credit to the findings described by Clarke (2000), there is yet one dimension that seems to slip away from his attention. The strategies of career growth among the managers of the new generation are by no means confined to the usage of personal networks in form of blat. It is a conscious choice for proper credentials, that is a new form of cultural capital, that has a value not only in Russia, but as well abroad, the one that can stand for high quality in business proficiency that seems to be an attractive alternative. In the following part of the paper I will try to illustrate my point by analysing my empirical material.

IV. The empirical study

My study draws from 17 in-depth interviews, which I conducted among the graduates of one Western private business school, operating in St. Petersburg since 1997. This school was established as the Russian equivalent to its Western counterpart and sponsored mainly by the private funds and donations. Besides business education, the school is extensively dealing with research, consulting and practical seminars for the Russian entrepreneurs and businessmen. I chose my respondents from the first round of the International Executive Master of Business and Administration (I-EMBA)(17), which enrolled altogether 30 participants. All of my respondents, seven women and ten men, aged between 25 and 38, had previously been involved in the one year executive programme in modern economics, business and entrepreneurship. This programme has altogether involved about 135 participants from all around Russia and other former Soviet Union countries. The participants attended the school in 5 different rounds from 1997 to 2001. Consequently, my respondents have been affiliated with the school during two years, when both their professional growth and personal development have been followed up via official meetings, discussions via internet as well as various social events. Besides interviews and participant observation notes, such materials as school's newsletters, the research publications of the school and personal files of the respondents have also been used for the empirical analysis.

I have to admit that the choice of this particular business school was rather unintentional. However I purposefully sought for the category of people, such as those who attended the school. Given the international profile of the school, it has been recruiting participants who are employed or have their own business mainly in the private sector of the Russian economy and often within the international or mixed companies. Therefore, one can assume that my respondents are very resourceful both with regard to their numerous education experiences as well as their unique knowledge and practical skills in how to manage in an international environment, how to work in the economy full of uncertainties and risks, not the least how to improve one chances at the competitive labour market.

The school's mission is often presented as "assisting in development of sustainable business in Russia", "helping entrepreneurial young Russians to develop their business ideas" and promoting Russian development by "the gradual transformation of the minds of individuals, development of knowledge, exchange of ideas and networking".(18) General ambition to produce professional Russian businessmen, people with whom Westerners can speak the same language, goes along with another aim, which the school tries to pursue. Namely it attempts to bring together young highly educated people, who managed to acquire a considerable working experience in the new economic spheres and who consciously strive after a systematic knowledge in professional business. These facts altogether made me extremely interested in meeting the graduates of the school.

This is how I came to spend one week with the whole group of I-EMBA (30 persons) during their last module before the graduation in March 2001. I participated at their lectures, seminars, business games, evaluation discussions and, of course, informal socialising, which all took place at their educational campus outside St. Petersburg. On the first days of my stay I presented the idea of my project(19) to the whole group and explained that I would prefer to talk to those who voluntarily would like to participate in the research. I assumed that the participants would like to reflect on the meaningful events in their life, the steps they made in their career and the achievements they think they have accomplished. To my surprise, there were more volunteers that I could expect among the participants. However, I decided to limit my sample with 17 people, whom I interviewed during two weeks, meeting the respondents, besides module week, at their work places and at the school.

V. Findings and analysis

I met my respondents at one of "the turning points" (Denzin 1989) in their lives. At that moment they were receiving their second (sometimes even the third) academic degree, graduating from the Western business school with a diploma of I-EMBA. Arriving to this point with different original education, job experiences and family backgrounds, the I-EMBA participants did not consider the acquisition of one more diploma as the very turning point in their lives. Rather, it is a re-evaluation of their personal capacities, recognition of their professional skills and abilities, widening of their life horizon and acquiring of new circle of colleagues and friends, that were often singled out as the main results of the business education. I have to point out here that neither the efficiency of the educational programme nor the satisfaction of the participants with the school was directly in the focus of my research. Instead I consider the school and its competitive image on the Russian market of the Western business education as "specified social milieux" (Rustin 1998), in which a variety of personal narratives can be better understood. On the other hand, each of their histories can shed a light on the wider social context of the current Russian society, which stretches beyond the school itself. In addition, considering the the school as a' meeting point' for people with similar worldview and aspirations opens up several other interesting issues. For instance, what are the career profiles of people, who are searching for Western business education in Russia? What sectors of the Russian economy and what kind of professions do these people represent? What are the effects of this education on the graduates further careers, taking into account that they were involved in to two years competitive programme, where beginning from the selection to the programme, based on various tests(20), followed by the 15 concentrated modules, combined with team activities, project writing, resolving of business cases and defence of the thesis,(21) the Russian graduates had to prove that they are capable to be the owners of the same diploma as their Western counterparts. Finally, a more general question relevant in this context is what role networking plays in the career development of the new Russian managers? I will suggest some answers to these questions in the sections below.

V.1. Management as a career

As it has been mentioned above, Soviet economy heavily relied on its managers, who were able to motivate, control and lead the Soviet grandiose plans of the socialist system. The Soviet managerial stratum, being very heterogeneous by education and social background, learn to manage rather by experience than by specialised education. The reality started to change slowly since the beginning of 90's. Indeed, this change may be easily observed on career profiles of my respondents, whose education and work experiences were shaped in the later 90's. Initially, the majority of I-EMBA participants (30), as well as my respondents (17), have technical education. A clear tendency is, however, that male respondents who completed their first academic degree before 1995 would have a diploma in mathematics, engineering or other natural sciences, while female respondents would carry a diploma in foreign languages or in social sciences. This difference in educational backgrounds is less observable among the younger participants of the business education, those who acquired their first higher education after 1995. Both women and men in this category have usually attended the new types of educational programmes, such as computer design, management, marketing or banking and finance, which became very popular in Russia with deepening of the market reforms. While asked about the reason of choosing such untested education, one of my respondents explained:

When I entered the university in 1992 they just introduced the speciality of marketing. It was a brand-new thing for that school. I chose it then without any particular consideration. It may seem strange, but we were basically selected into a first group of marketing according to our language ability. Everybody in our group studied at a specialised school and spoke a perfect English. All of us were recommended to choose marketing as our major. Nobody knew at that time what was marketing about and how it could be used later on. But having a general background in economics we could even work as economists after the graduation (female, 26, director of a Russian tourist agency).

Naturally, the life trajectories of older and younger(22) respondents differ in many ways. For instance, those with traditional Soviet diploma have seldom combined their studies with additional work, unless they were migrants from other cities or regions. During the Soviet time students received a stipend from the state, which although being tiny in its size, could provide for subsistence, especially if the living and food expenses were covered for or helped by parents. That is why respondents of this generation usually began their job experience not earlier then after the finishing of the university. It was common for them, provided their high grades, to continue the career as post-graduate students at the same department or ending up at the closed scientific institutions (почтовый ящик), working with applied technologies for the Soviet military complex. The opportunity to change a professional career for these people appeared only in the beginning of 90's, when it became obvious for many that they are capable of more than their present position could offer:

I am an engineer-programmer by education. I was working with computer programming during 7 years, three of which at the closed scientific institution. I was invited there after my graduation from the university. When the market reforms began I got a chance to compare different conditions of work and payment. Naturally, I realised that it was a high time to leave the state sector and switch to the private business. At that time it was not so incidental, because in a circle of my acquaintances and friends I had some who already were entrepreneurs. Most influential, however, was an example of my colleague, who had a military economic education and who left the army for business instead. We met each other from time to time and I could see that he was doing very well. It was then that I came to conclusion that I have to change something in my life… (38, male, director of a foreign representative office).

To some extent, we can speak about a prolonged way to management career, for those who have been educated during the late Soviet time and had often to change their occupation after acquiring their first academic degree, either by starting own business or searching for sometimes less qualified jobs within the Russian and foreign private firms and enterprises. Eventually, these people found their ways to the managerial positions, in finance, production marketing or the like. However at first many of them had to try a role of a 'sales representative', which was confusingly associated with the management as such, especially when nobody exactly knew what it meant. As of one the respondents who could not go on with his career in natural sciences and had to find something else expressed it:

Of course, I found a job. It was a pure coincidence. Acquaintances of my friend looked for a reliable person. I started at their company as a 'manager', after a while, as the company was developing well, I worked as a director of a warehouse for about half a year. At last, the position of 'director' became vacant and I worked as a director of that firm for almost four years (32, male, general director of a Russian IT firm).(23)

In contrast to this example, the younger respondents (nine out of seventeen) in my sample usually started to work much earlier, some of them already at the second year of their university studies. In general, it became more acceptable to combine university studies with a job on the side, especially because in the beginning of 90's both the real wages and financial support for education began to decline drastically. The parents of my respondents, previously representing a Soviet middle class(24) with a stable income and relatively prosperous life standard, had to often change their careers themselves and therefore they could not any longer provide fully either for children's education or for their subsistence. Still, it was not only an economic necessity that prompted the younger respondents to start working, although to be independent from their parents was a serious motive in itself. Mainly, the younger respondents, receiving the education in new professions, seemed to be more determined to try their chances out in the market-oriented areas of the Russian economy. Obviously the fact that the majority of informants have acquired English language skills at the specialised schools already during the Soviet time did help them a lot while navigating job opportunities among the numerous Western companies establishing themselves at the Russian market since the beginning of 1990's:

During the last years of university I worked at various Western companies as a sales representative. It was quite difficult, but on other hand, I could not imagine myself to lounge about… in principle I could devote all my time to studies. But at that time I already understood that I have to do something with my life. Education is of course necessary, but I had to do something else… to work. I was looking for employment via St. Petersburg recruiting companies. I knew English quite well because I attended a specialised school. This partly helped me to interest a certain group of employers… quite good ones (male, 26, manager of the sales department of a Russian cleaning company).

Yet, both older and younger graduates of I-EMBA have many features in common. For instance, by the spring 2001, when the interviews took place, the working experience of the participants was stretching from four to twelve years. Each of business graduates has changed at least 3 job positions since they began to work. Importantly, these changes took place either by promotion within the same enterprise or more often by finding a higher position at another firm or company. In any case, a search for a new job was often reasoned by the fact that the current work was no longer giving a feeling of 'self-growth' or 'self-development'. The process of 'self-improving' frequently implies risk- taking and starting experimental projects. One of those examples is in the history of a former English language linguist, who advanced to the position of a lawyer in different foreign firms:

Since 1990's I worked as a translator at a joint venture company in St. Petersburg. Once this company had to go to the court for hearing on a license issue. I translated all that and in the process I realised that at times I could grasp legal issues better than some of the lawyers for whom I translated. We won the case. However being back to usual work I clearly sensed that something is happening. The economy of the company was not in a perfect shape and eventually my own duties as a translator soon to be redundant as many people started to learn English themselves. The interesting job was always at the bosses' board, while people like me had to basically run the paper work. This is what prompted me to acquire another, juridical education. As a result my current job became too boring and I started to look for something new. I knew what I wanted. It should be a Western Law firm. It may sound strange, but I opened Yellow pages and called to one of the Western law firms, situated in the very centre of the city. In a couple of days I got a job. Thanks to my knowledge of English and my law education together, this time I became not simply a translator or a secretary, but a lawyer in my own right (33, female, lawyer at a foreign firm).

Another common feature for all respondents is that the longer is the work experience of the graduates the more is the tendency that each subsequent job is found via the professional contacts or thanks to the good reputation at the previous working place. At the same time, it should be underlined that the respondents' first longer employment was commonly acquired with the help of parents, acquaintances or very close friends. The so-called 'strong ties' (Granovetter 1973) proved to be the most effective way to find a practice place after the university or a temporary job to go along with the last years of studies. In some cases, parents have suggested the children to work at their own private firms by helping out with various services. These are probably the first examples of the networking, or personal contacts, which significantly influenced the graduates life:

I realised that I have to work quite early… during my university studies. As my first employment I worked at my dad's private company as a head accountant. At the same time I was working part-time at different advertisement companies and the like (28, male, channel field sales engineer at a foreign enterprise).

My working experience began since I was 16 years old. At first I worked as a manager (sales representative) at the private company of my friend, who was trading in veneer abroad. Then I had to deal with custom issues and nobody took me seriously because I was so young. But I learned a lot in this business. Later on my father suggested me to work for him at his food production firm. While working there I was at the same time doing translations at home, as an extra job, for one large foreign company. My language abilities have eventually brought me to a position in this company after one occasion when I was invited to interpret one seminar on technical issues of cigarette production (25, male, co-ordinator of quality projects at a foreign enterprise).

Besides directly involving children in their businesses, parents have also been mediating jobs via their own work places:

When I was finishing the university, my mother worked at a bank, at the department of the foreign currency accounting. The neighbouring department was working with the currency dealing. Naturally I got a practising position there and continued working at that department for one and a half year. At the beginning I was combining work with studies, but later on I worked full time. At some point [after 1998] the things at the bank went not very good. But the very banking business attracted me very much (25, male, marketing director of a joint broker company).

Even though getting the first job via parents or friends, the so-called using of personal contacts for obtaining a scare good, in this case position, was quite common for many respondents, as we can understand from above, the very fact of blatmaking tends to be considered as an 'ugly thing'. It is seldom mentioned directly, as in the previous example, where it is assumed that getting a position at the working place of ones mother is quite a 'natural thing'. Still, those who openly speak about being assisted to their job, consider this fact as something uncomfortable:

Truly… I have a prejudice. Once in my life I was helped in to a job. I will say openly.. my father assisted me getting my first job practice at one big bank. Before that I taught English for the personnel of international hotel. After that… I found all my jobs myself … I think that finding a job via connections (по знакомству) it is the worst that can happen to you. However, I myself helped out many people to find a job. Some people laugh at me that I may end up my career in the Human resource management. I think it is the worst what can happen to me. I already had to change my career direction from the commercial sector to the marketing once. Human resource management is not my type of business. I am convinced that in order to find a job one has to read the newspapers for the job advertisement or to address the recruiting agencies, which I think are super (29, female, deputy director of a foreign advertisement company).

In a sense, practising blat themselves, the respondents tend to misrecognise(25) this practice in their own case, although as in the quotation above, my informant admits that she was herself mediating jobs to other people. Another example of misrecognition of blat can be found in cases when the personal contacts turn out to be less effective than they were expected to be. Reflecting on one of such situations one of the respondents explained:

My parents influenced me from the point of view of their life experience. In principle, I took all my decisions myself. I decided that I would like to be an economist, although almost everyone in my class went to the forest industry institute. My father told me then: Do not be a full, go for the economic education. It was that kind of help. How could he help otherwise…Well, I got my first job due to him. It was in the bank where my father knew the director. He asked: Could you take my son for any kind of job? They took me, but it was nothing special. I was working as a messenger, delivering the documents, a kind of 'serving boy' (26, male, financial director of a Russian food production company).

To sum up shortly, the earlier career profiles of the business school graduates, whom I interviewed, seem to indicate a beginning of change in making a professional business career. Although there are still many managers out there, who received the academic qualifications mainly in technical disciplines and learned the managerial skills by experience, the number of those who learn management professionally seem to grow, due to both Russian and foreign business education opportunities which merely exploded since the beginning of reforms. What seems to be even more important is the fact that people who find themselves on managerial positions in today's market economy clearly distinguish themselves from the so-called 'red directors' or in Granick's (1960) meaning 'red executives'. In respondents' own understanding, they belong to a generation of managers who 'think differently', who have been 'hardened by the experience of 1998 economic crisis and survived', who strive after 'further development of business' and not only a 'mere consumption of the profits'. I would add that these people could be perceived as a 'breakthrough generation', namely those who enjoyed a stable upbringing and good education as well as an opportunity to build their careers according to the principles of 'self-fulfilment' and creativity, a chance, which many others are certainly lacking. To understand why this particular group can fruitfully utilise their cultural capital, we have to look beyond the mere facts of their education and their first work experiences, which as material suggests, were often mediated via 'strong ties'. Following Bourdieu (1986), the multiplying effect of individual capitals has its origin within the family and other primary groups, which brings our attention to another aspect, namely the social background of the respondents.

V.2. The (re)-production of ambition

Sociology of social mobility has been quite successful in asserting the fact that mobility is the most natural way in relations between generations of parents and their children. However, there seems to be all reasons to disagree with this common sense sociological fact. As Bourdieu (1986) and Bertaux (2000) brightly show, it is reproduction, which appears to be more common for many societies. By reproduction one should not understand a mere conversion of capitals and transmission of positions between the generations of parents and their children. Instead, the notion of 'reproduction' conveys the meaning of transmission of less tangible, however more effective recourses, such as power and privileges. To explain, let us turn to the concrete experiences illustrated by the personal stories.

The very issue of networking, or (re)-production of a social capital, was not really my primary focus when I conducted the interviews. However after having read the transcripts a number of times I have realised how often graduates mention their parents, friends and acquaintances who in that or another way have inspired these individuals for further studies, recommend them their first and subsequent jobs or even advised them to apply to the business studies at the school. This is how I became interested to analyse the importance of family and friends for an individual career progress. Following Bourdieu's (1986) argument on the importance of social capital for the increasing value of cultural and even economic capitals brought me to think on the processes, which start early in individual lives of my respondents and continue to influence their present life course. What kind of families they come from, what set of networks (friendship, professional, obligation) they are included in, how they socialise and with whom, all those issues tend to be as much important for their careers as their formal education, merits and qualifications. In this part of the paper I will address the family issues first of all. To begin with, I could observe that many of those ambitions, which respondents have expressed during our conversations, began to grow already during their childhood. As one of the female graduates put it:

My parents are both highly educated, both have graduated from the same university. They are engineers. My father is a professor and he still teaches. My mother worked as an engineer all her life… [..]I am the only child in the family. My father is very strict and I was never treated as a child, rather as an adult. I was put into a specialised school and started to learn English since I was 8 years old. Even earlier I had a private teacher of English. Besides I had classes in choreography and figure skating. Already in the second grade my father personally practised English with me at home.[…] He used to say: 'There are only two grades, failed and excellent. Nothing in between…'. I started to understand him when I became older. It is by his own example that he tried to teach me that I have to be ambitious and be better than others (female, 29, Deputy director of a foreign advertisement company).

What this young woman remembers from her childhood can easily be associated with the educative ethos (тип воспитания), especially characteristic for the Soviet middle class families. For many of such families it was important to give their children 'a good start in life', especially by promoting their education, both economically and emotionally. A special effort has been made at the early point in choosing the school, the place to live, the variety of activities, such as sport, music, dancing or specialised language education. It was interesting for me to discover that a half of my respondents have attended specialised language schools or have been taught a foreign language by parents or grandparents. Such opportunity was available mainly for the middle class families in Russia, where several generations have acquired high education or for those who attended the schools in the central parts of the Russian big cities, where the specialised education was mainly concentrated. This is how one of my respondents has explained his good knowledge of English:

I got a good basis for my English at one specialised school in St. Petersburg. The last two years, though, I had to switch to another specialised school, on physics and mathematics. However, I always cared for the quality of my English…In fact, I am very grateful to my parents, who paid a great deal of attention to my education. For instance, when I was in the 4th grade we had to move from the flat in the centre of the city to the outskirts. However, I did not leave the school in the centre. At least during two years, my mother has followed me each morning from our place to the school. I am very grateful for that because if I had to attend a school at the outskirts instead it would certainly affect my future development in a negative way (28, male, channel field sales engineer at a foreign enterprise).

The experiences described above are more typical then unique among my respondents, especially in case of those who were single child in the family. The investment of time and effort put in the only child's upbringing was a bit more emphasised in these cases then in others, where respondents had siblings. However, what is worth consideration is that most of the respondents, with few exceptions, have mentioned their mothers as those who were always beside, who provided children with dedicated support and mere presence when it was necessary to commute long hours to a special school or to encourage a number of other activities, developing children capacities in many ways. Two of the examples below seem to me most illustrative of the point:

I think that it was my mother who made the most effort in my upbringing as a child. I cannot really remember my father as a parent…When I was born I was exposed to many illnesses and doctors advised me to do any kind of developing sports. This is how I came to exercise athletics for almost seven years. Then I was playing chess, taking classes in music and painting. Certainly all that was my mother's initiative (25, male, co-ordinator of quality projects at a foreign enterprise).

My mother had a colossal influence on me. She invested a lot in my upbringing, despite the fact that she had a complicated private life. She brought up me and my sister basically on her own. She began to teach me English when I was three years old …she accompanied me to my violin classes, which I took almost for ten years. My mother followed me to the ballet dancing…I acquired some education in that as well until I became too old for it. She even was there when I attended choir lessons…besides she took me to Hermitage where there was a course on art history. She did all that with an enormous care (26, female, customer adviser at a foreign bank).

There are ample examples of such motherly devotion in my material. Fathers were seldom mentioned of carrying out those educating activities by generating them or simply by being there in person. Instead, the respondents talked about their fathers in terms of 'being busy at work', 'being strict and demanding ', 'being intimidating' or on the contrary, 'being of no authority in raising up of a children'. This division in Russian gender roles between the 'working and caring mother' and 'morally authoritative but absent father' is well documented in many sociological studies of the recent years.(26) My material has only brief but rather illustrative evidence of the fact that most of interviewees come from the families, where both father and mother, or at least one parent (often father) are highly educated. However, it is usually only one parent, predominantly fathers, who held high positions within scientific, juridical or educational institutions, even through the years of transformation. As the matter of fact, mothers of my informants were largely full time employed as well. However, only few of them were able to achieve a career of their own.

They either did not dare to change a boring job or simply prioritised the family care above their own self-realisation. Few respondents have mentioned that their mothers, previously being housewives, have started to work during the last ten years. Often this decision came along with the fact that fathers began to experience difficulties at their current work or changed their jobs to more risky but lucrative self-employment or private entrepreneurship. Thus it can be assumed that it is more of necessity than of personal drift for career that these women launched out into salaried occupations. Although mothers of the majority of participants were less successful in their career growth, it is interesting that they all the same promoted their children, especially girls, for a different life. Another female respondent, who acquired two academic degrees, prior to the business one, admits:

It is my mother's influence. She got married very early and had to leave the university on the 4th or the 5th year. It seems that since then she tried to prevent this happening to me or to my sister. Indeed, all I knew all my life is to study. I was told that marriage was the end to everything. All the best I could achieve was before the marriage. After that… all is finished… a catastrophe… kitchen… dirty cloths and obesity. The best you can do to yourself, as my mother repeatedly told me, is to get an education. These thoughts have definitely settled in my mind very strongly. Look at me… I am about to complete my third high education… (33, female, lawyer at an international company).

This particular example brings one more dimension to the meaning of social capital, namely "subjective resources". This category has been first spoken about in relation to the studies of economically poor in France (Bertaux 2000). However if applied to Bourdieu's concept of social capital, "subjective recourses" term allows for a broader meaning, applicable even for many other cultural contexts. It means that in many societies, among which Soviet Russia is only one example, where the objective forms of capital, such as property or other material assets were unevenly distributed, "Other more personal and definitely subjective resources may be used by parents, especially of those deprived of any capitals, to build into their children self-confidence and other personality features, which may in turn prove very useful late on in their struggle for occupational achievement and status attainment" (Bertaux 2000:13).

Many episodes of the personal narratives I work with confirm this argument. The personal characters of my respondents are at times striking with regard to their high ambitions, strive after self-improvement and further education, as well as personal growth. These features are obviously not only related to the objective resources, which the families of my respondents possessed. It is appropriate to assume that these personal traits generated in combination of influence from parents' personal devotion and support as well as general environment in society, where values of education and self-improvement were rather dominating in the official discourse. Although the symbolical value of the parents' cultural capital has in some cases seriously declined during the transformation years, which expressed itself in lower wages and prestige, the example of parents as being, all the same, devoted to their work and professional call evoked a lot of respect, with which the respondents reflect on their own life compared with the life of their parents:

Objectively speaking, people of my generation, we have much more possibilities to realise ourselves. We can use bank loans, scholarships, we can study abroad.. at the same time we have received a good, free of charge, education. I think that we have almost ideal opportunities, which my parents could not enjoy. My father, though, has realised his ambitions. He is a professor, he wrote many books. He has many students. It is a pity that he earns almost nothing at the moment… like many others in his profession, but personally, as a professional, he achieved a lot and I am not sure that I or people like me can reach as far as he did. Thinking about that I can say that there are two categories of people that I respect. The one is like my father. These are the people, who independently of their present income, have achieved certain results in their profession and their job brings them satisfaction. The second category are the people like me…Probably we are not genius, but we have enough of intelligence and character in order to manage other people and to do something useful for society and to receive some satisfaction anyway (29, female, deputy director of a foreign advertisement company).

Even in those cases, where respondents were the so-called 'class travellers' of the first generation, that is acquired much higher social positions than their parents could enjoy, they were respectful, if not for a mere economic or moral support, than for a kind of consolation on the parents' side with regard to what their child has decided to do with her/his life. Related to this is an experience of young businessman who moved to St. Petersburg from a middle sized provincial Russian city. When I asked him if he has an emotional support from his family in what he is doing, he responded:

O no…nothing of that kind… there is of course a parental love, although I was brought up in severe conditions…It does not imply only bad things. Simply it is difficult for my parents to understand that I am.. as they would call it 'speculator'…However, when I visit them now they seldom complain about life, that everybody sells or buys… speculates in one word. I have never assumed that my parents can be so tolerant… they are very kind… but not tolerant.. no.. their social status you know.. they are workers. Still, since I started to work in private business myself their perception has somehow changed. I would not discuss with them my work, or the risks I have to take or how I live, however they do not reproach me either, rather they express a kind of sympathy because I work too hard or look a bit tired… (32, male, general director of a Russian IT firm).

To summarise shortly on the role of the family and the way how the respondents were brought up I would argue that in societies such as Soviet Russia, where the economic capital, usually associated with property or valuable material objects, has been officially undermined and even despised in its importance, it is other forms of recourses that were transmitted between the generations. Namely, as Granick (1960), Bertaux (1997) and Gronow (1997) accurately emphasised, the Soviet middle class parents have been for a long time mastering something, which Bourdieu (1986: 255) in another context refers to as "concealed practices of giving rare skills for rare positions". Those 'rare skills' were promoted by many ways, from a kind advice and support to an intimidating demand. They were materialised in long years of education, in special language training, in time and devotion, which parents, especially mothers, allocated for children's upbringing. However, what they resulted most of all was in a (re)-production of ambition, which has taken roots already in their family up-bringing and which developed into features that all respondents share as a common thing, that is a strong desire for achievement and self-improvement, an aspiration to be professional in what they do.

V.3. How networks are used by the new generation of managers in Russia

Now we approach the most interesting and probably difficult to answer question of how networks are utilised by this particular group of professional managers, who aspire to make a career in the current Russian market economy. This difficulty can be explained first of all by the fact, that such networks are only emerging and it is impossible to assess their full scope and effect at this very moment. Furthermore, the meaning of networking changes as well depending on the stage of the economic development in Russia. Thus arguably, I try to draw up those features of the networking, which express themselves in their potential, rather then in a full operation. To begin with, it is widely understood that entrepreneurship as a social phenomenon is based upon taking risks, assuming responsibility and building the networks, which can carry on one's business successfully. However, if we come back to the arguments singled out in the first parts of this paper, Russian entrepreneurs are often accused for using their well developed social capital as a "parallel currency" both in the state and private sectors of the Russian economy for getting a better job, for raising up investment and protection of one's capitals (Ledeneva 2001). Certainly, when looking beyond the personal conditions of making a career, such as being analysed above, we have to admit that new generation of Russian entrepreneurs operates in an environment of the highly fragmented Russian economy, where the issues of ownership, taxation, protection of the economic interest and the like are hardly resolved. Indeed, the personal networks which helped to undermine the Soviet authoritative state and to satisfy the personal needs of consumption in the time of deficit seem to be effectively transformed into the personal links, along which many new Russian market institutions are build.

Therefore, my findings in relation to the importance of the networking for business career might not been seen as particularly surprising. To begin with, confirming the assumptions above, the staff of the business school have often emphasised that networking is an essential part of the education programme and preparation of participants for running own business, because the market economy in Russia is so vulnerable that the graduates would need somebody to rely on while launching out into a new business. Indeed, the school has deliberately promoted the networking idea both in their education policy and in the positioning of the school on the wide market of the business education in Russia. Following the profile of many Western business schools, the school at St. Petersburg has built 'a career centre' in order to take care of the graduates further careers, by organising the meetings with potential employers, creating a database of graduates education and employment histories, and not the least for keeping a trace of employment vacancies for newly graduated executives.

Even the recruitment of the participants to the school, especially after the first round of the programme has been completed in 1998, was significantly run through 'personal link', that is graduates advising the new candidates to apply to the school. As one of the Russian staff members of the school pointed out: "The fact that people often come here by somebody's recommendation is not good and not bad in itself. Lets us say, I trust your opinion and you tell me: It is a good school, you won't be cheated there, you will be given more than anywhere else. This is only positive for us, is not it. It means that we do not have to spend additional money for our promotion. We use our own graduates as our promoters, and doing so we receive new participants. However, we pursue a strict selection here. If somebody comes to us and says, that this is a good place and they want to study here, it is not enough. These people by no means have any priorities among others. They have to compete for the place and we usually have from 5 to 6 persons for one place". By so doing, the school intentionally promotes the graduates to create networks among various individuals and as well as the enterprises, where they are employed. This principle of networking seems to promote not only the graduates themselves in their future careers but also the school by creating an attractive image on the highly competitive market of the Russian business education of a Western type.

All these facts can, on the one hand, be considered as strengthening the role of already existing 'favours of access' or personal, blat-like, connections in Russia. This is in fact how I at first approached this problem by questioning if the participants of the programme and the staff of the school were aware of the fact that school gives an image of being elitist. Indeed, the graduates of the I-EMBA programme are resourceful and strong personalities at the very start, as it stems from their personal profiles. Given the fact that they moreover study in English, pay for their education themselves(27) and undergo a high selection procedure before entering the school(28), these people may easily be considered as 'privileged', especially if compared with other Russians in their age. However, after having discussed these issues with many respondents I realised that there are many others aspects, which should be included into the understanding of usage of networking. Below I am going to touch upon four of those aspects, which I found as the most pronounced in the material. Among them are building of trustful professional contacts, establishing of networks of friends, bridging across different sectors of economy and connecting to the global business.

Even though many participants came to the school with highly pragmatic aims, including 'systematising of one's practical business knowledge', 'obtaining an original Western education', 'improving one's career', 'obtaining an economic degree as a compliment to another high education' and the like, they rarely named 'making contacts' or 'networking' as something positive or something they were after. On the contrary, what many of them have experienced in their own work was rather a constraining character of the so-called 'personal link' economy. For those, who started a new company relatively recently it was especially difficult to operate in such environment:

At business school we were often told that it is very easy to be a client, because you both have money and demand for some product or service. However, the economic situation in our country is somewhat ups and down. I have realised that especially when I started to work with my own company. I represent a new company… nobody knows me…even though I am a client, I am noting. For instance, I contacted one company and told them that we want to buy their services that we are ready to pay for them. The answer was: Sorry, we do not know you. We will work with those whom we know for at least 5 to 6 years and your offer will be treated only as second or third priority. No other principles function here. These are the connections, which permeate all our economy, our society… it is almost impossible to fight against them (26, female, director of a Russian tourist agency).

Such examples are not unique and in a sense they help to understand why the participants of business education come to school first of all as 'individualists', very proud and ambitious personalities, who do not easily confide in others. However, after a short while many begin to realise that their school- mates are people equally intelligent, determined and most of all reliable professionals with whom one can openly discuss business matters and search a support in difficult situation:

People whom I met here were for the first time in a long run of the same standing. They are owners of businesses, directors and top managers. I myself was a director of the regional sale office when I entered the programme. They are not simply my colleagues… they are my equals (…). More than that, at times they were even superior, because their business was more successful than mine. Importantly, they are not dealing with mind-numbing sales. Even if they are working in sales business, they are not obsessed with the very process. They are developing their capacities and skills all the time… (37, male, director of a Russian energy company).

I was deeply impressed by the people I met here. We are all somehow hungry for communication with each other, because we are so similar to each other, so interesting and at the same time so different that each person contributes something new in our relations. I simply lacked such people in my environment. It is not only my personal opinion.. many others think this way. It is one thing to be the best among the rest, but it is more challenging to the best among those, who are equal and interesting to you… (25, male, marketing director of a joint broker company).

Appreciating others, who go through the similar entrepreneurial experience, made it easier for participants to find a good example on how to do things in ones' business, how to minimise risks and find trustful companions. Therefore, meeting people with 'equal aspirations', similar world views' and ' similar experiences' reinforces the individual social capitals of the business graduates because they associate themselves with a group, with a certain social community, where personal capitals are accumulated into a collective one, enabling rather than constraining the respondents in pursuing of their own businesses:

I realise that I may lack some practical knowledge, as this is my first experience as a director of a company, but I possess quite a bank of other experiences, which I learned about here at school and via my previous jobs. In addition, I have met much more people whom I can turn to in case if I need help. For example, my co-graduate, she has much more experience as a leader of an own company. She achieved a lot. We have agreed that we should meet for some briefings and discuss some guide-lines on where to begin, what to avoid, how to resolve the personnel issues... because many try to employ from the circle of their own (...) and it is not always good for the company. On the other hand, it is risky to employ people whom you do not know at all, especially in the middle of the running project (26, female, director of a Russian tourist agency).

I am very positive about doing a common business with someone of our graduates, because I know these people very well and I know what they stand for. They are ambitious, self-motivated and bright… (26, male, manager of the sales department of a Russian company).

Besides building trustful professional relationships, the networking within the I-EMBA group as well as among many other graduates of the school plays one more important role, namely the creation of networks of friends, based on common interests and values. This particular way of association among the graduates is rather interesting because even though they may have a wide net of friends outside the school, it happens that they cannot any longer entrust all personal and professional matters to them. A new a circle of friends, who are close to each intellectually and personally, who graduated from the same school and share common experiences of working in the new economic conditions tend to replace other ways of interactions. It is among this circle of friends that the respondents prefer to resolve many business-like issues as well, seldom entrusting with those to the formal professional organisations and clubs for entrepreneurs of various kind that began to appear in Russia:

I do not believe in the idea of professional association…Professional associations are trying to do things like: professional promotion and exchange of experience.. but they do it in a particular way… how to say that in Russian…promoting socialising… spending of free time together kind of thing. But I think all that is secondary. The most important is professional communication. When I meat my friends from the school… it is like I am included in a net of informal connections. When I have a problem, I can always resolve it within this informal net. I am sure I am going to use this net extensively in the future (28, male, channel field sales engineer at a foreign enterprise).

It is not only graduates themselves but also their partners and children that become members of such "groups of diffuse interactions"(29). I would not argue, though, that the communication within such groups is free from the instrumental goals, however it obviously is based on unconditional trust and authentic interaction. This is what many informants called for 'family feeling', meaning that they treat each other as they are, with all weaknesses and drawbacks. It is possible to argue that bringing in family members into such networks of friends broadens the contacts of the graduates beyond their own group and its accumulated recourses. In other words, one can speak of the informants as being 'liaison persons', bridging across their immediate environment and creating more open net of 'weak ties', which according to Granovetter (1995) is a considerable advantage in the difficult economic condition, where trust is the most valuable commodity. This net of 'weak ties' can work very well in the Russian economy as well, where membership in formal groups does not seem to be a promising alternative.

Another positive aspect of the 'bridging across' networks among the Russian managers is that the people meeting at the school are often coming from various economic spheres and occupational fields of the Russian market economy. Many of them work for international companies, however some of them are employed by large international corporations, and others lead small foreign firms and representative offices consisting of 3 to 10 people. The Russian small-sized enterprises are also well represented. A variety of the economic sectors the I-EMBA graduates are working in include transport, food production, energy sector as well as consulting, marketing, banking, tourism and so forth. The fact that the respondents also occupy very different positions at their working places, from a sales manager to a general director, and include both owners of the businesses and managers of various ranks, makes their knowledge and skills complimentary to each other. This is why they feel themselves to belong to a wider professional business circles in Russia:

We lack the economic stability in our country that is the fact. However, people whom you met here they are definitely the future of our economy. We are not 35 individuals, we are much more, however those who came to our school are certainly bright personalities, I believe. They will be back and bone of the future Russia and of St. Petersburg in particular (26, male, manager of the sales department of a Russian cleaning company).

It means that the networks emerging among a limited number of the business school graduates may have a potential to transcend across the established, often closed and non-transparent economic institutions, prevailing in the current Russian economy. Such networks may also foster their knowledge and understanding far beyond their professional field:

My contacts with professionals beyond the IT sphere were rather limited before I came to the school. I was very pleased to get to know people who work in paper industry, tourism or marketing. I knew that many young professionals are working for the Western companies in the fast marketing consumer goods sectors, such as Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola and the like. However, here I met people of many other sectors of economy. It was both interesting and important to me (28, male, channel field sales engineer at a foreign enterprise).

Among other things, such heterogeneous networks of professionals help to increase the mobility of qualified personnel between the various sectors of economy as well as to bring in new people into to the Russian labour market:

Our programme was friendly… supportive. I really liked the accent on the creation of a group, where people from different spheres of economy can get to know each other. For example, I met people in transport, in advertisement, in law and other spheres, with whom I can consult on different issues as well as do business together… If we are looking for new employees for our companies we mail first to the I-EMBA graduates, then wider all graduates of our school, and only then we search elsewhere. I regularly receive such requests from my co-graduates, some search for a driver, others for a secretary or a manager… (26, female, director of a Russian tourist agency).

One more reason of reliance on networks among the young Russian managers is the awareness that the business education they posses is in high demand among the companies oriented on the global business. The companies where my respondents have had or still have an employment originate from all over the world, including such countries as Japan, Sweden, the USA, France, Germany and Belgium. Alarmed by the economic crisis of 1998 many international companies started to withdraw their capitals and production capacities from Russia. However, eventually, when the Russian economy began to recover, the interest in coming back to the Russian market revived significantly. The previous experience, though, was not forgotten and many established routines, for instance recruitment of the personnel, have changed accordingly. One of my respondents explained it in the following way:

There is a certain scheme of searching for Russian specialists at the moment. A foreign company, let us say a Swedish one, wants to establish a business in Russia. They naturally need people who could run the business at place. Their strategy may be either to send a Swedish representative to Russia, or, find a competent person here, which is even less costly, because the local professional would manage the business in a better way. In addition, he or she already speaks 'their language', I do not mean the English of course, I mean what we have learned at the school… (26, male, manager of the sales department of a Russian cleaning company).

'Speaking the same language as Western businessmen do' becomes a valuable social capital, using Bourdieu's term. It opens up many opportunities for the Russian managers in searching for a job and career not only at the local, but also the global labour market. I have asked many of my respondents to reflect on the question, why they would need a Western MBA degree while they live and work in Russia. A broadly common answer was:

I was thinking about this for different reasons. First of all, I do not want to imagine working all my life only in Russia or only for a Russian company. Secondly, it is possible that my Western diploma would not be of any use within one company, however in order to make contacts with the potential clients abroad such a merit will be much appreciated. I am facing this already now. Thirdly, in the process of acquiring of this diploma I extended my circle of communication, which means also that I enlarged my business contacts. Finally, the Western diploma in itself is a formality, however during the education process one gets a chance to build up a competence, which can hardly be found only by reading books or using the internet… (25, male, marketing director of a joint broker company).

To all appearances, my informants seem to clearly realise the gains on using their networks as a potential both personally and professionally. Often expressing their will to work and make a career in Russia, these young managers are strongly aware of the fact that their cultural capital has much higher value at the positions, mediating between the Russian and the Western companies and businesses. It is obvious that I-EMBA graduates acquired this awareness on the daily basis of working and studying in an international environment, although it is not always easy, as they admit, to link the Russian and the Western codes of doing business:

Our company is highly appreciated on the Russian market, because we sell exclusive IT products. Working as an employee here largely implies to mediate the products, which we produce globally, to our Russian customers. In fact, we have often to translate and adapt many products, such as marketing programmes and initiatives, so that our Russian customers could distribute them further on. In a sense, most of our products are build to operate globally, without a particular concern for a local mentality. Me and my colleagues, though, do not have any problems in communication with our Russian customers. On the contrary, I have more problems with my Western colleagues… you know… to explain all the Russian law regulations, which are not easily translated into Western transparent formulas and structures… (28, male, channel field sales engineer at a foreign enterprise).

Meeting those challenges, though, does not prevent Russian managers to build up their future prospects with international touch, because this is what they perceive to be as the most natural way of their professional development:

I am going to leave Russia for a while, may be even for a longer time, to follow my husband to his home country. However, I have a dream to eventually initiate my own business, which will be connected with Russia. Obviously, I am going to commute between here and there, I have my mother here, you know…so it is completely natural for me, therefore I want to do something that can operate in both countries. We are, in end, people of two planets…(26, female, customer adviser for corporate clients at a foreign bank).

Concluding remarks

In this paper I have argued that networking seems to be an indispensable social practice in assisting the new generation of Russian managers into their professional careers. There exists a substantial literature on the role of networks in the economic and social development, some of it directly relating to the Russian case (Granovetter 1973, 1995; Ledeneva 1998, 2001; Castells 2000, Clarke 2000). Until recently, the dominant feature of those discussions has been to assume that using personified (non-economic) networks cannot but prevent the true market economy in Russia to develop. The emphasis has been on the constraining features of personal connections, which, according to Ledeneva (2001) heavily undermined the Soviet economy and continue to exploit the emerging market economic structures. That is why it is not uncommon to read about Russian businessmen as more liable to using bribes and corruption while pursuing their business. This type of cultural explanations is often grounded in the theory of 'path dependency', which gained a large popularity among the social scientists (Ledeneva 2001). Along this line of argument it is generally assumed that to build a trustful business environment in Russia one has to first of all improve the market institutions created in the country during the long years of reform. However, what is lacking in this kind of argument is that "institutions not only persists through history, they also emerge" (Nesterenko 2001:84). It means in particular that institutions emerge by the human effort, in small communities and during a long period of time.

This article has attempted to show how the new meaning of the networking is slowly emerging in the relations among young Russian managers, who pursue their business career in the current society. I have focused on a small-scale community of managers in St.Petersburg, having a common experience of a Western education at the foreign business school as well as working in the international environments and private businesses. As my empirical material suggests, young Russian managers use networking for building of trustful professional contacts, for establishing a new network of friends and for bridging across different economic sectors of the Russian market economy. These features of networking are even more pronounced due to the fact, that these managers work in international businesses or with international clients, which makes them directly exposed to the influence of the global economy.

Although it is difficult to access a full impact of these heterogeneous networks, created within such a limited community, on a larger society, my primary aim was to introduce a new angle in analysing the pursuing of a business career in management, as one of the 'culturally new professions' in Russia. The material at my disposal does not unfortunately allow me to ignore the arguments on the "closure of the Russian labour market" (Clarke 2000), or "the market economy distorted by the economy of favours" (Ledeneva 2001). However, bringing in the concepts of the cultural and social capitals into my analysis permits me to strongly argue that personified networks should not be considered as exclusively constraining mechanisms for the development of the current Russian society and economy. On the contrary, as an international experience demonstrates, durable business networks based on mutual respect and recognition may appear only via personal contacts (Granovetter 1995). The matter is, although, that it presumes that people doing business together share a mutual professional code, belong to the same group, which seems for my group of respondents to be largely associated with possession of a new form of cultural capital, namely the professional business education. Searching for credentials of that kind these people aspire to use their cultural capital not only in Russia but as well abroad. This fact opens up an opportunity for these managers to have a wide frame of reference and business codes, which are not exclusively built on 'the strong ties' (blatmaking among family and relatives) but increasingly on 'the weak ties' (bridging across the economic sectors and hierarchical positions, promoting professional business spirit). Even if the dominant ways of doing business in Russia may still be dependent on the so-called 'favours of accesses', inherited from the Soviet time and aimed at managing the everyday life in the economy of deficit, such mechanisms can be seriously challenged in the society where other capitals, such as education, reputation, mutual trust, acquire a stronger role. Indeed, if we remember that all remarkable changes in societies started at first on a small-scale, often against the main steam of reference, we can also assume that it is with the help of those few individuals, who possess a new form of cultural and social capital, a change can begin against the customary system of privileges and favours, imposing serious costs on the development of the Russian market economy.


Ashwin, S. (2000) Gender, state and society in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. London: Routledge.

Balzer, H. (2001) 'The self-denying middle class in the global age' in Segbers, K. (ed.) Explaining post-Soviet patchworks, V.1: Actors and sectors in Russia: between the accommodation and resistance to globalisation, Aldershot: Ashgate, 366-387.

Bertaux, D. (1997) 'Transmission in extreme situations: Russian families expropriated by the October Revolution' in Bertaux, D. (ed.) Pathways to social class: a qualitative approach to social mobility, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bertaux, D. and Delcroix, C. (2000) 'Case histories of families and social processes. Enriching sociology', in Chamberlayne, P. (ed.) The turn to biographical method. Cambridge: Routledge, 71-89.

Blackwell, W. (1965) The old believers and the rise of private industrial enterprise in early 19th century Moscow, Slavic review, XXIV (3):407-424.

Broady, D. (1991) Sociologi och epistemologi: om Pierre Bourdieus författarskap och den historiska epistemologin, Stockholm: HLS Förlag.

Bunin, I. (1994) Russian Businessmen: forty stories of success, (in Russian) Moscow: Ekspertiza.

Bourdieu, P. (1994) Praktisk förnuft: bidrag till en handlingsteori, Göteborg: Diadalos.

Bourdieu, P. (1986) 'The forms of capital' in Richardson, J. (ed.) Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education, New York and London: Greenwood Press, 241-260.

Castells, M. (2000) 'Russia and the network society' (in Russian), in Mir Rossii,V.1, 23-51.

Clarke, S. (1999) New forms of employment and household survival strategies in Russia, Coventry, Moscow: ISITO/CCLS.

Clarke, S. (2000) 'The closure of the Russian labour market' in European societies, V.2:4, 487-504.

Cohen, S.F. (2000) Failed crusade: America and the tragedy of post-communist Russia. New York: Norton.

Denzin, N. (1989) Interpretive biography. London: Sage publications.

Dinello, N. (1998) 'Forms of capital: the case of Russian bankers' in International sociology, V.13:3, 291-310.

Dinello, N. (1999) 'The Russian F-connection', in Problems of post-Communism, V. 46:1, 24-34.

Dunham, V. (1976) In Stalin's time: middleclass values in Soviet fiction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fukolova, Y. (2000) 'How much they cost' (in Russian), in Kommersant dengi, p.24-26.

Gerschenkron, A. (1970) Europe in the Russian mirror, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Granick, D. (1960) The red executive: a study of the organisational man in Russian industry, New York: Doubleday and Company.

Granovetter, M. (1973) 'The strength of the weak ties', in American journal of sociology, V.78:6, 1360-1380.

Granovetter, M. (1995) 'The economic sociology of firms and entrepreneurs', in Portes, A. (ed). The economic sociology of immigration, New York: Russel Sage Foundation, 128-165.

Gronow, J. (1997) The Sociology of taste, London: Routledge.

Humphrey, C. (2000) "Dirty business, 'normal life', and the dream of law", in Ledeneva, A. (ed.) Economic crime in Russia, Great Britain: Kluwer law international, 177-190.

Kharkhordin, O (1999) The collective and the individual in Russia: a study of practices, Berkley, London: University of California Press.

Krasnova, V. (2000) "Between harmony and despotism" (in Russian), in Ekspert, n.25, 3 July, 19-24.

Ledeneva, A. (1998) Russia's economy of favours: blat, networking and informal exchange, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ledeneva, A. (2001) 'Networks in Russia: local and global implications', in Segbers, K. (ed.) Explaining post-Soviet patchworks, V.2: Pathways from the past to the global, Aldershot: Ashgate, 59-77.

Lukjanova, I. (2000) 'To study business in Russia is allowed and even necessary' (in Russian), in Inostranets n.45 (352).

Medvedev, R. (1998) 'A new class in Russian society', in Sociological research, V.37:4, 43-64.

Månson, P. (2002) "Vad gick fel I Jeltsins Ryssland ?" i Dagens Forskning, 2-3 April, p.18-19.

Nesterenko, A. (2001) "Markets between Soviet legacy and globalisation: neoinstitutionalist perspectives on transformation" in Segbers, K. (ed.) Explaining post-Soviet patchworks, V.2 Pathways from the past to the global, Aldershot:Ashgate,78-107.

Partapuoli, K.H. (1998) A place of globalization: cross-cultural cooperation between Estonian and Norwegian business people in Talinn, at

Puffer, S. (1994) 'Education for management in a new economy', in Jones, A. (ed) Education and society in the New Russia, New York and London: M. E. Sharpe, 171-196.

Radaev, V. (1997) New business culture in the post-Soviet Russia, Russian Chamber of commerce, Moscow.

Radaev, V. (2000) 'Corruption and violence in Russian business in the late 1990's' in Ledeneva, A. and Kurkchiyan, M. (ed.) Economic crime in Russia, Kluwer Law International, 63-82.

Reddaway,P. and Glinski, D. (2001) The tragedy of Russia's reforms: market bolshevism against democracy, Washington: United States Institute of peace press.

Rose, R. (1999) Modern, pre-modern and anti-modern social capital in Russia , SSP 324 U. of Strathclyde.

Rustin, M. (1998) 'From individual life histories to sociological understanding', SOSTRIS working papers n.3, London Centre for Biography in Social Policy, UEL.

Schein, E. (1984) 'Culture as an environmental context for careers', in Journal of occupational behaviour, V.5, 71-81.

Siegelbaum, L.H. (1988) Stakhanovism and the politics of productivity in the USSR, 1935-1941. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Shmulyar, O. (2000) 'Success a la Russe: a case of New Russians' in Månson, P. (ed.) Eastern Europe: ten years after communism. CERGU, report 9, 79-105.

Shmulyar, O. (2002) 'Doing business against the flow: new Russian entrepreneurs' (in French) in Droit Cultures, 43 (1), 159-176.

Stiglitz, J. (1999) Whither reforms?: Ten years of transition, paper presented at the Annual Bank conference on development economy, Washington. D.C. April 1999.

Stolyarova, G. (2001) "Sector growth in step with local economy", in St.Petersburg Times, September 18, Business special.

Temkina, A. and Rotkirch, A. (1997) 'Soviet gender contracts and their shifts in contemporary Russia'. Idäntutkimus, 4:6-24.

Yurchak, A. (2001) 'Male economy: there is not time for trivialities when your career is forged' , (in Russian) at


1. These questions guide my dissertation project.

2. See extended bibliography in Granovetter (1973) and (1995).

3. This idea was pronounced by Steven Sampson during the discussions at the The Fourth Nordic Conference on the Anthropology of Post-Socialism, which took place in Copenhagen in April 2002.

4. In his book Clarke (1999:19) argues that it is important to make a clear distinction between new private enterprises, "created either de novo or by reassembling the assets of a former state enterprise or organisation within new management structures" and privatised state enterprises which despite the private ownership still dwell on the old modes of occupational structure and management.

5. Defined by Ledeneva (2001:61) "economy of favours excludes personal networks which serve domestic or purely illegal exchanges, and includes personal networks which operate by penetrating institutional structures and diverting institutional resources". In colloquial Russian personal networks are referred to as blat, or " use of personal networks to obtain goods and services in short supply and to influence decision making" (ibid.:67).

6. Favours of access are defined by Ledeneva (2001:70) as "access to the state property and its distribution system" during the Soviet time, which were under the charge of the "official gatekeepers", such as the state officials, bureaucrats, and the like.

7. This division is borrowed from Schein 1984.

8. Referred to in Broady 1991, p.177.

9. See Broady 1991 for a fundamental analysis of Bourdieu's concepts and theories.

10. My translation from Swedish.

11. Kulturnost is a very peculiar concept indispensable for understanding of the Soviet way of life. It merely means a "proper conduct in public" (Dunham 1976:22). However, besides its behavioural connotation it is heavily loaded with ideological meaning. Namely, during the Soviet time every individual was obliged to be an example of "selfrighteousness", some kind of "fetish notion of how to be individually civilised" (Dunham 1976:22), striving after self-improvement and self-education. Read more in Kharkhordin (1999).

12. Western business education is often referred to as MBA, Masters in business and administration, a degree, which Russian students can obtain both at home and abroad.

13. The document to be found on, at:

14. The Russian sociologist at the Russian Academy of sciences, David Konstantinovki, works specifically with the issues of the selective nature of the Soviet and post-Soviet education, having its roots in the myths on the equality of life chances that dominated during the Soviet time.

15. According to Puffer (1994), three major Laws introduced by the Gorbachev cabinet, namely 1987 Law on Soviet state enterprise, 1988 General education reform and 1988 Law on cooperatives, had a key importance for the development of the management education in a new spirit.

16. This is one of latest article by the author.

17. I-EMBA is somewhat different from a number of other MBA programmes, running in Russia, because it operates on the part time basis and is aimed at people who already occupy various leading positions at their enterprises.

18. All of these expressions are taken from the business school's newsletters.

19. The idea of my dissertation project is somewhat wider than the focus of this paper. It can be shortly summarised as making a professional business career in the Russian market economy.

20. According to the educational director of I-EMBA programme, the testing procedure before the admission to the school is comprised of 4 elements: the English language test, test of analogies, digit test and quantitative estimation. In addition, a number of psychological tests and an interview are conducted.

21. I-EMBA participants as well as the participants of the previous 5 rounds of the executive programme in modern economics, business and entrepreneurship, are combining intensive part-time business training with their ordinary work.

22. By older respondents I would mean those above 30 and up to 38 years old, while younger ones are aged from 25 to 30.

23. As many other respondents, this man calls my attention to a clear distinction between 'manager' in its meaning of early 90's, which basically stood for 'sales representative', a person who 'runs around and suggests various goods to customers', and 'director' (директор), a person who both owns and manages a company. The issue of blurred division between the management and ownership of the private enterprises in Russia is extremely important to understand how the market oriented enterprises function and why they experience many difficulties. For more details see Krasnova (2000).

24. 'The Soviet middle class' is a notion that became actively discussed in relation to the question of winners and losers of the Russian transformation, as well as the driving forces of the market reforms (Balzer 1998,2001, Reddaway and Glinski 2001). Although this category was changing both in meaning and structure over the time, by the end of 1980's it came to indicate a broad social stratum that included " the lower levels of the government bureaucracy, highly skilled workers in certain sectors of economy, … a layer of semiprivate and for the most part illegal entrepreneurs,…[at the same time] its predominant core was made up of the intelligentsia in the broad Russian meaning of the term - from people in academia and in the arts and humanities to engineers, teachers and physicians" (Reddaway and Glinski 2001:28).

25. 'Misrecognition' is a concept introduced by Bourdieu (1986) to characterise the ambiguity of social exchange, which implies both faith and self-deception in the obligation assumed by the exchange. The phenomena of misrecognition acquires more concrete meaning while applied to the Soviet practices of social exchange, such as blat, which is thoroughly analysed in Ledeneva (1998).

26. See for more details Ashwin, S. (2000), Temkina, A. (1997).

27. Unlike the MBA graduates in the West, who often are sponsored to undertake the education by their current or potential employers, the Russian MBA graduates prefer to pay for this kind of education themselves. As my informants explained to me, the Russian employers seldom would risk investing a significant amount of money (from 6 to 8 thousand dollars) into an employee, who possibly would like to change his/her job after the graduation. On the other hand, MBA graduates themselves express a low desire to be 'dependent' on one's employer by being paid for education. Usually they are satisfied with the employer, who does not prevent them for being absent at work once and a while, when they have to attend the school. This problem is less relevant for those, who run their own business and can regulate their work schedules more freely.

28. I mean that besides their formal qualifications their personal and psychological characteristics are tested as well.

29. The term 'a group of diffuse interaction' is coined by Ksenia Kasianova and implies that "people choose their contacts on the basis not of fleeting role and status features, but on personality features" (Kharkhordin 1999:320).