The Transformation of Russian Business Education and Its Outcomes: How Russia Moved Away from Marxism toward a Market Economy through Revitalized Business Education

The Transformation of Russian Business Education and Its Outcomes: How Russia Moved Away from Marxism toward a Market Economy through Revitalized Business Education

Elise Kiregian
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3153-1.ch055
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This chapter looks at the transformation of Post-Soviet Russian business education. The extraordinary metamorphosis shapes the new generation of Russians profoundly. Russians are now far more likely to speak English, to hold personal investment portfolios and to be able to work outside of Russia in global businesses. The old-fashioned idea of central control of every aspect of life is largely gone as are business courses extolling the virtues of Marxism. Research shows the wide acceptance of western business concepts such as strategic planning and case analysis and the rapid growth of the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. One unexpected outcome is the rise of Russian women to management positions in Russian corporations.
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Whereas this chapter highlights the changes in business education, many historians have commented on changes in the Russian economy and others have studied changes in the educational system. For example, Medvedev’s (2000)Post-Soviet Russia: A Journey Through the Yeltsin Era traces the development of capitalism in Russia. Many scholarly works took a broad perspective on the state of the nation and its overall economy. These include Gaidar’s (2003)The Economics of Transition, which looks at institutional reforms, monetary policy, and the transformation of the economy. Aslund, Guriev, and Kuchins’s (2010)Russia After the Global Economic Crisis details economic challenges including corruption and the need for reform. Many other factors were looked at by historians and prove significant in seeing the transformation of business education. Scholars such as Clark (2003) in Changing Attitudes Toward Economic Reform During the Yeltsin Era looked at social transformation in Russia (also, see Dezhneva [as cited in Taylor, Mechitov, & Moshkovich, 1996], Kitaev [1994], and Mechitov and Peper [1998]). Changes in public opinion, support for economic reform, and the emerging middle class present critical factors underpinning the transformation of Russian business education. In addition, the development of capitalism provides significant insight into Russia’s journey toward a market economy. A keen observer of statistics in Russia, Shcherbakova (2008), in her article, “The Trend of Education in Russia,” catalogued facts about the educational level of Russians (p. 26ff). From a historical perspective, such studies demonstrate the large-scale advances in educational opportunities for all Russians prior to the period of study in this chapter. Similarly, the growing middle class and its desire for personal wealth prove significant. Zagrebina (2013), in her article, “Mechanisms of Upward Mobility as Perceived by Students in an Institution of Higher Learning,” presented evidence about how Russian students see graduate education as a road to upward mobility, one of the driving forces behind educational change in post-Soviet Russia (Remington, 2010; Zagrebina, 2013).

The generations in Russia offer sharp differences in their attitudes about labor and the role of women (Bek, 2004; Brah, 1992; Chirikova, 1998). The evidence shows opportunities opening for women. In addition, adherence to the centrality of labor as an economic concept is falling away. Studies in this vein include Hahn and Logvinenko’s (2008) “Generational Differences in Russian Attitudes Towards Democracy and the Economy.” Combined with the statistical information available, such reviews provide an interesting panorama. Scholars (Adams, Middleton, & Ziderman, 1992) have catalogued the shift from vocational education toward market economy skills. These include Holmes, Read, and Voskresenskaya (1995) in Russian Education: Tradition and Transition, which looks at educational administration including curriculum, finances, and teacher preparation. (See also Dudgeon [1975], Grunberg [2011], and Johanson [1987].) During the late Communist period, engineering and vocational studies held the high ground. Western-style business education was viewed with disdain.

Criticism often proves a change catalyst. Among the most outspoken critics of Russian education is Gershunsky (1993) in Russia in Darkness: On Education and the Future. His open letter to Boris Yeltsin took issue with educational conditions including overcrowding and other issues that stifled learning. The decline of vocational education and the shrinking finances brought increased attention to the education of children.

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