Research Output

Russian entrepreneurship: A question of ambiguity or certainty, risk taking or risk averse.

  This article stems from a case study based on a series of in-depth interviews carried out on the All Russia Association of the Blind (VOS). It traces how two of the most successful VOS enterprises, Enterprise 13 in Moscow and Revda in the Urals, responded to the dynamic changes (both economic and social) that confronted them after the introduction of the free market economy. It examines the strategies, developed and emergent, created since 1991 by these two enterprises. In particular it traces the emergence of the entrepreneurial manager and his adaptation to the catalyst of change - growth, through the development of creative and proactive solutions to these environmental changes. In essence the contention is that in a period of flux where turbulence is high and change inevitable strategic leadership, driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, comes to the fore as a natural consequence of market forces. Risk taking and high tolerance of ambiguity mark the innovative leader.

For hundreds of years the Russians had lived under centralising, autocratic regimes. In April 1985 Gorbachev’s Perestroika changed this. Perestroika introduced the seeds of a democratic political system and the beginnings of a market economy which was to supplant the failing Marxist model. Inevitably, the outcome was a situation of unparalleled complexity. Perestroika broke the Russian business mould. It created uncertainty by introducing ambiguity in the form of competition. The environment became increasingly unstable and the future uncertain. Enterprise directors had to take a step into the unknown. It was a period which started in 1991 with great expectations and aspirations but by 1997 had, through the erosion of the economic base, progressed to fear and trepidation as earlier dreams were unfulfilled. Finally, after the currency collapse of 1998, came the unexpected windfalls of import substitution and enhanced exchange rate benefits which led to the re-emergence of hope in the future as the expected economic deterioration failed to materialise.

By 1998 the relationship between strategy, structure and performance was rewritten to capitalise on the emerging opportunities. But this entailed a deliberate destruction of the old business methodologies and relationships, the bending of rules, and the creation of a new culture based on risk. In essence it meant the emergence of a new set of core competences driven by a strategic leadership geared to handling ambiguity and oriented towards risk taking. A breed not readily found in Russia or the VOS enterprises

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    01 January 2004

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Gallagher, J. (2004). Russian entrepreneurship: A question of ambiguity or certainty, risk taking or risk averse. International Business and Economics Research Journal. 3, 31-38. ISSN 1535-0754


Russia; entrepreunership; risk;

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