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Assortment Plans

ASSORTMENT PLANS

Assortment plans were state-generated documents that specified the composition of output to be produced by Soviet enterprises. Each year a comprehensive plan document, the techpromfinplan (the technical, industrial, and financial plan) was issued, containing approximately one hundred targets that Soviet businesses were legally required to achieve. This annual enterprise plan was part of a five-year plan that established the long-term objectives of central planners.

The most important component of the annual plan sent to enterprises involved the production plan, which disaggregated annual production targets into their component parts, breaking them out in terms of both volume and value goals. The assortment plans also incorporated demand conditions set by consumers or firms, as identified by planners. For example, a shoe factory would be given an aggregate output targetthe total number of units of footwear to produce in a given year. The assortment plan then specified the type of footwear to be produced: the number of children's and adults' shoes, the number of men's and women's shoes, the number of shoes with buckles and ties, the number of brown and black leather shoes, and so forth. Planners constructed the assortment plan to capture demographic characteristics as well as to reflect the tastes and preferences of Soviet consumers. Similarly, the assortment plan component of the techpromfinplan sent to a steel-pipe manufacturing plant would identify the quantities of pipes of different dimensions and types, based on the needs of firms which would ultimately use the pipe.

Typically, Soviet managers gave less priority to fulfilling the assortment plan than to the overall quantity of production, because fulfilling the aggregate output plan targets formed the basis for the bonus payment. Adjustments made within the assortment plan enabled managers to fulfill quantity targets even when materials did not arrive in a timely fashion or in sufficient quantity. For example, managers could "overproduce" children's shoes relative to adults' shoes, if leather was in short supply, thereby generating a shortage in adult footwear relative to the needs of the population. This practice of adjusting quantities within the assortment plan imposed higher costs when steel pipes and other producer goods were involved, because producing three-inch pipe instead of the requisite six-inch pipe obliged recipient firms to reconfigure or adapt their equipment to fit the wrong-sized pipe.

See also: economic growth, soviet; five-year plans

bibliography

Ellman, Michael. (1979). Socialist Planning. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Krueger, Gary. (1991). "Aggregation in Planning." Journal of Comparative Economics 15(4): 627645.

Susan J. Linz

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