Administration for Organized Recruitment

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The Administration for Organized Recruitment (Russian acronym, Orgnabor) was a labor recruitment agency that existed in the USSR from 1931. Its essential feature was that the recruiting organization, not the potential employee, initiated the recruitment process. In the 1930s it was mainly concerned with the recruitment of peasants for seasonal and permanent work in nonagricultural jobs.

During the New Economic Policy (NEP) the USSR had high unemployment, and relied on labor exchanges to bring supply and demand for labor into balance. It also had substantial numbers of peasants migrating to the towns in search of work, and substantial numbers of these peasants found seasonal employment away from their villages. With the abolition of unemployment in 1930, it was thought that there would be no further need for market economy instruments such as labor exchanges.

Given the huge demand for labor in industry and construction, and the collectivization of agriculture, it nonetheless became necessary to establish a procedure for recruiting peasants from collective farms. Hence the creation, in 1931, of a new type of recruitment for the rapidly growing construction and industrial sectors: organized recruitment. In this new system, state-owned enterprises or administrative organizations such as the People's Commissariats recruited a number of workers for regular or seasonal work by entering into an agreement with a collective farm, group of collective farms, or rural area.

The Administration for Organized Recruitment offered a planned, socialist mechanism for placing workers where they were most needed, and was intended to replace the traditional practice of recruitment from among those peasants who happened to turn up at the factory gate. In many cases the new recruits were promised much better employment conditions than actually existed, which was one of the reasons for the high rate at which the newly recruited workers left their jobs.

According to official statistics, 3.6 million people were recruited by Orgnabor in 1932, an average of 2.6 million per year between 1933 and 1937,1.7 million in 1938, and 2.2 million in 1939. For many of the peasants concerned, the process was essentially an economic conscription. After 1946 the role of organized recruitment declined. In this later period, organized recruitment often concerned urban workers recruited for coal mining, construction, and as lumberjacks. In 1946 organized recruitment recruited 2.2 million people (mainly to coal mining, textiles, industrial and military construction, and forestry). Between 1947 and 1950, an average of about 0.6 million people were recruited per year, mainly to industrial and military construction, coal mining, and forestry. Organized recruitment remained at about 0.6 million per year between 1951 and 1955, but fell to only 0.1 million per year between 1966 and 1970.

The administrative framework for organized recruitment varied. In the 1930s there were commissions for organized recruitment, but between 1953 and 1956, republican administrations (in the RSFSR and Ukraine chief administrations) for organized recruitment. In the late Soviet period organized recruitment was mainly administered by regional or local authorities. The program of organized recruitment experienced numerous problems, however, and was never the predominant form of labor recruitment in the USSR. Decisions by individual workers as to where they wanted to work were always more important.

See also: collective farm; labor; new economic policy; sovnarkom


Barber, John. (1986). "The Development of Soviet Employment and Labour Policy, 19301941." In Labour and Employment in the USSR, ed. David Lane. Brighton, UK: Wheatsheaf.

Filtzer, Donald. (2002). Soviet Workers and Late Stalinism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Dyker, David. (1981). "Planning and the Worker." In The Soviet Worker, ed. Leonard Shapiro and Joseph Godson. London: Macmillan.

Stalin, Joseph. (1955). "New ConditionsNew Tasks in Economic Construction." In Works, Vol. 13. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House.

Michael Ellman

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Administration for Organized Recruitment

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