Economic History Workshop | "The Communist Collapse in the USSR and Poland: An Enterprise Perspective, 1985-1991"

Economic History Workshop
Event date: 
March 22, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:20pm
Kaspar Pucek
Princeton University
Dr. Max Trecker
Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe
Seminar Series: 
Economic History Workshop
Co-Sponsored by: 
Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Finance and Public Policy

"The Communist Collapse in the USSR and Poland: An Enterprise Perspective, 1985-1991"

Kaspar Pucek, Ph.D Candidate, Princeton University

This meeting will be held via Zoom. Registration is required to attend. To register, visit:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing a unique link to join the meeting. If there is a pre-circulated paper, it will be distributed to those who registered approximately one-week prior to the workshop.

This presentation will analyze and compare the breakdown of the planned economy in the USSR and the People’s Republic of Poland, and how this led to the encroachment of various forms of market-oriented policies and institutional reforms, from the perspective of two major industrial enterprises and company towns. It will analyze the last round of socialist economic reforms towards a kind of “market socialism” in the USSR and Poland during the late 1980s, and how these related to the market “transition” of the 1990s. The paper will argue that a key difference between the collapse of communist regimes in the Soviet Union and East-Central Europe was that in the former the state itself collapsed alongside with the communist regime, which not only obstructed an orderly “transition,” but the trauma of which also laid key foundations for Russia’s authoritarian turn in the 2000s. The collapse of the state in the USSR empowered regional elites and enterprise managers to shield their enterprises from market competition, while stripping assets and using company resources and control over labor for local and regional political purposes. Finally, this analysis aims to produce new insights into the ways in which market reform in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and China related to one another.

Robert Yee
Area of Interest: 
Economic History
Russia and Eurasia
20th Century