Social economic transformation in Bulgaria: An empirical assessment of the merchant capitalism thesis
Major accounts for transformations in post-1989 Eastern Europe include neoclassical economic and institutionalist, among which is the recent merchant capitalist thesis (Burawoy & Krotov 1992). It suggests transformation in the former Soviet Union in the direction of a primitive merchant capitalism with the absence of a superordinate control agent in relations in production and relations of production. Constituent hypotheses predict: (1) increased importance of lateral linkages among enterprises; (2) increased economic concentration; and, (3) increased worker control inside of enterprises. This study uses new data from a panel study of 497 Bulgarian manufacturing establishments, including organizational and worker level data, to test the hypotheses for 1989-92 time period. Overall, the evidence is mixed with little or no support for the lateral linkage hypothesis, some support for increased economic concentration, and mixed support for increased worker control in establishments but from a weak beginning position. Our analysis suggests additional mechanisms, consistent with other institutional accounts, through which underdeveloped or more primitive merchant capitalism can occur in manufacturing industries undergoing transformation from state socialism.
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