9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS16 Russia and Its European Identity

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Russia and the World: Shifting Perspectives and Global Realities Building II, C4.05

A Country of "Well Educated Amateurs" - Interconnections between Employees´ Qualification, Exploitation and Authoritarianism in Russian Business Organisations

High qualification of employees combined with their further training and lifelong education is regarded as a "sine qua non" of human resource management (HRM) in a knowledge-based economy. Basing on the results of the research project "Human Resource Management in Russian Business Organisations: Realities, Problems, Perspectives" carried out in 2007-2008 in State University - Higher School of Economics we examined whether Russian business is approaching to European patterns or remains traditional, non-achieving-oriented.
There is wide gap between high formal level of education of employees and low value of professionalism and qualification in Russian organisations. Functions of more than half employees do not match their formal education. Level of employees' participation in improving their professional skills remains low.
Our data suggest that, contrary to contemporary HRM conceptions, qualification and professional qualities are not key factors of personnel recruitment, remuneration and promotion in Russian organisations. The study revealed a strong link between "good" workplaces and "clannish" types of social organisation, high importance of kinship, social networks and informal ways of job placement.
High qualification does not place its owners into "privileged" sectors of labour market. It is closely connected with good working conditions but high salaries imply, first of all, supernormal working load ? long workweek, short or no yearly vacations. "Exploitative" social organisation of business creates a "vicious circle" in which high working load undermines workers' activity in professional training, and vice versa. Not qualification but "workaholism" combined with loyalty and obedience are the distinctive features of those professionals and managers who were promoted over the last 2 years.
Kinship and informal networks as key factors of "good job" placement, "workaholism" and obedience as main prerequisites of a decent livelihood and career promotion are closely connected with high level of authoritarianism in most Russian business organisations. Managers in their day-to-day practices seek not for the most qualified, creative and pushing, but for "reliable" and obedient workers. It is obvious that these practices work not so much for economic efficiency and development of human capital but rather for conservation of power-dependence relations, power advantages of top-managers in the organisation.