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Informality in Eastern Europe

Structures, Political Cultures and Social Practices

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Edited By Christian Giordano and Nicolas Hayoz

This volume deals with different aspects of informal structures and practices in Eastern Europe. Its objectives are twofold. It aims at discovering whether or to what extent informal structures and practices in Eastern Europe have meanings, functions, forms and effects different from those that can be observed in the politics and societies of Western Europe. The authors of this volume – most of them are from the region – have been invited to discuss the scientific relevance of the distinction informal / formal in their respective field of research or discipline. This points to the second objective of this volume which is to encourage a more fruitful interaction between disciplines that often disregard each other and which, despite inevitable and essential epistemological differences, have significant shared interests such as the comparative analysis of political phenomena in terms of elementary forms of social organization. The relation between informality and formality in a more methodologically pluralist and ultimately holistic way can be analysed via regards croisés between the disciplines anthropology, political science and sociology. This allows the extension of this comparative and multidisciplinary approach to other themes and phenomena of mutual interests.
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How Unwritten Rules Can Influence Human Resource Management in Russia

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Introduction

Since the early 1990s, Western companies have been operating successfully in Russia. Although their challenges and opportunities are constantly discussed in academic and nonacademic literature, trends in personnel management still remain under-researched (cf. Domsch and Lidokhover, 2007: 15). Human resource management, however, is one of the primary aspects that determine a company’s efficiency. Moreover, personnel management, as well as other aspects of professional and social life in Russia, is “filled” with informal practices that might be unknown by foreign employers.

Informal practices – the spoken and unspoken understandings that complement official procedures – often balance formal rules and laws. The informal practices that shaped post-Soviet business such as krugovaia poruka, double accountancy and blat have been explored by Ledeneva (1998, 2006, 2009) and Vacroux (2005). More specific studies, such as those on corruption and state influence on business activities of foreign companies operating in Russia have been made by Puffer and McCarthy (1995), Johnson et al. (2000), Roaf (2000), Cheloukhine and King (2007) and Denisova-Schmidt (2010, 2011c) respectively. Here, too, studies on human resource management are rare: there are only a few investigations that casually mention this issue (e.g. Ledeneva and Shekshnia, 2011). My chapter will address this shortcoming, and will be devoted to some unwritten rules governing human resource management in Russia. ← 379 | 380 →

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