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Capitalism from Outside?

Economic Cultures in Eastern Europe after 1989

Edited by Violetta Zentai and János Mátyás Kovács

Publication Year: 2012

Does capitalism emerging in Eastern Europe need as solid ethnic or spiritual foundations as some other “Great Transformations” in the past? Apparently, one can become an actor of the new capitalist game without belonging to the German, Jewish, or, to take a timely example, Chinese minority. Nor does one have to go to a Protestant church every Sunday, repeat Confucian truisms when falling asleep, or study Adam Smith’s teachings on the virtues of the market in a business course. He/she may just follow certain quasi-capitalist routines acquired during communism and import capitalist culture (more exactly, various capitalist cultures) in the form of down-to-earth cultural practices embedded in freshly borrowed economic and political institutions. Does capitalism come from outside? Why do then so many analysts talk about hybridization? This volume offers empirical insights into the current cultural history of the Eastern European economies in three fields: entrepreneurship, state governance and economic science. The chapters are based on large case studies prepared in the framework of an eight-country research project (funded by the European Commission, and directed jointly by the Center for Public Policy at the Central European University and the Institute for Human Sciences) on East-West cultural encounters in the ex-communist economies.

Published by: Central European University Press

Title page

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Copyright page

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Table of Contents

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List of Tables

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pp. vii


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pp. ix

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Prologue: Going beyond Homo Sovieticus

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pp. 1-13

When it comes to the domain of culture, Eastern Europe has no comfortable space for writing contemporary economic history. Prior to 1989, the master narrative of cultural evolution in the economies of the region rested on the dubious concept of Homo Sovieticus, depicting the majority of communist citizens as...

Part 1. Entrepreneurship: Smooth Hybridization?

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pp. 15

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Repatriate Entrepreneurship in Serbia. Business Culture within Hauzmajstor

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pp. 17-34

This study concerns a small start-up firm founded by a Serbian repatriate who returned to Belgrade in 2001. His professional career was reinforced by highly specialized training in Western-type business management, expatriate positions located in the West and the East, and the socio-cultural milieu of Central and...

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A Small Miracle without Foreign Investors: Villány Wine and Westernized Local Knowledge

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pp. 35-55

The story I tell here is not a conventional example of cultural encounters in Hungary. Why did I choose a winery for field research and why in the Villány region? First, I will make two arguments against this choice...

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From Local to International and Back: Privatizing Brewing Companies in Eastern Europe.

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pp. 57-70

The aim of this paper is to compare a number of case studies from the DIOSCURI research project that deal with privatization processes in the food and beverage industry (Erdei 2007; Mareš 2007; Mester 2007; Topolčić 2007). The enterprises concerned differed in scope, type of industry, and economic activity. Still, what was...

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Reason, Charisma, and the Legacy of the Past: Czechs and Italians in Živnostenská Bank

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pp. 71-88

Živnostenská Bank has traditionally been a Czech bank—a kind of national family jewel. Yet, it was the first bank in the Czech Republic to be taken over by foreign capital and has subsequently changed owners twice within two years. It is currently owned by UniCredito Italiano...

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Managers as “Cultural Drivers”: Raiffeisen Bank in Croatia

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pp. 89-103

Our starting hypothesis begins with the assumption that Raiffeisen Bank Austria’s (RBA) position in Croatia was largely determined by opportunities in the Croatian market, opportunities that had been recognized by the Austrian bank’s owners in the early 1990s. Therefore, cultural encounters resulting from the...

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The Rise of a Banking Empire in Central and Eastern Europe: Raiffeisen International

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pp. 105-124

Banking has become a salient component of the transforming economies in Central and Eastern Europe due to the fact that only few of these economies had started to establish commercial banks during the old socialist system, their territories perceived as fertile grounds for profit and opportunities in the rush for new...

Part 2. State Governance: Unilateral Adjustment?

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pp. 125

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Transmitting Western Norms: The SAPARD Program in Eastern Europe

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pp. 127-148

In this study SAPARD is regarded as a potential conveyor of Western norms and governance techniques to the East. It is not the program itself that attracted our interest; instead, we focused on the institutional changes it brought about. Is there any chance for a mutual understanding and recognition of differences and...

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Cloning or Hybridization? SAPARD in Romania

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pp. 149-165

Europeanization, understood both in terms of process and outcome, is a complex phenomenon manifested at many levels, following very different patterns of interaction and “hybridization” (Ladrech 1994, Börzel and Risse 2003, Goetz 2001). It can be controlled, deliberate, planned, and top-down; or conversely...

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Caring Mother and Demanding Father: Cultural Encounters in a Rural Development Program in Bulgaria

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pp. 167-182

This case study describes a project that was patterned on a European model and launched as an element of the European Union pre-accession policy for Bulgaria but was managed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Thus, it provides an opportunity to explore several interfaces of cultural encounters: between...

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Becoming European: Hard Lessons from Serbia: The Topola Rural Development Program

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pp. 183-199

Contemporary economic culture in Serbia, the characteristics of which resulted from several contradictory historical processes, cannot be analyzed by simply “de-constructing” these characteristics into simple dichotomies like East and West, traditional and modern, or socialist and capitalist. Serbia’s historical...

Part 3. Economic Knowledge: Does Anything Go?

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pp. 201

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Have Polish Economists Noticed New Institutionalism?

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pp. 203-222

Institutional economics has risen in parallel with the decay of state socialism and the beginnings of the post-communist reform process. At first, an institutional approach appears highly relevant to the challenges the societies have faced emerging from state socialism, as it offers a perspective that allows an analysis...

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The Sinuous Path of New Institutional Economics in Bulgaria

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pp. 223-239

Until 1989, New Institutional Economics (NIE) was a paradigm almost completely ignored by the social sciences in Bulgaria. It was occasionally mentioned in papers on the history of economic thought. A scrupulous bibliography would maybe detect some remote reference in the texts of sociologists or philosophers. The research..

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Soft Institutionalism: The Reception of New Institutional Economics in Croatia

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pp. 241-262

This essay is about the reception of New Institutional Economics (NIE) in Croatia. In the NIE’s world of transaction costs, bounded rationality, and asymmetric information, institutions matter (Furubotn and Richter 1991). While NIE was originally focused on transaction costs and property rights analyses, for the purpose...

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Institutionalism, the Economic Institutions of Capitalism, and the Romanian Economics Epistemic Community

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pp. 263-280

Any discussion of the topic of institutionalism in Romania is bound to take place under the shadow of a paradox: On the one hand, it looks like there is a huge propensity to adopt institutionalist views among Romanian economists. On the other, the diffusion of new and even old institutionalist theories has rarely...

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Beyond Basic Instinct? On the Reception of New Institutional Economics in Eastern Europe

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pp. 281-310

In planning our study of East–West cultural encounters in economics, we were looking for a school of thought that is popular enough in our region to provide us with a sufficient amount of empirical information for a meaningful comparative analysis, and at the same time, identifiable enough to target our inquiry as precisely...

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Epilogue: Defining the Indefinable: East–West Cultural Encounters

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pp. 311-335

It was not only the dramatis personae of our case studies but also we, the researchers, who went through a number of surprising cultural encounters when bridging the gaps between our original expectations and the final outcomes of the project. The chapters of this volume speak for themselves. Now it is the...

List of Contributors

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pp. 337


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pp. 339-351

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9786155053719
Print-ISBN-13: 9786155211331

Page Count: 363
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Europe, Eastern -- Economic conditions -- 1989-.
  • Europe, Eastern -- Economic policy -- 1989-.
  • Europe, Eastern -- Social conditions -- 1989-.
  • Capitalism -- Europe, Eastern.
  • Post-communism -- Europe, Eastern.
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