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The one-person management principle used in the Soviet economy to assign responsibility for the operation and performance of economic units, from industrial enterprises and R&D institutes to ministries and state committees.

Under edinonachalie, the head (rukovoditel or edinonachalnik ) of each administrative unit issued all directives and took full responsibility for the results the organization achieved. Edinonachalie was a key feature of the Soviet management system from the beginning of central planning in the early 1930s. It did not literally mean, however, that one person made every decision. In industrial ministries, major manufacturing plants, and other large organizations, deputies or other subordinates who specialized in one or another sphere of operations were authorized to make decisions in their designated areas of expertise on behalf of the head of the organization. Moreover, although fully responsible for the organization's performance, the edinonachalnik was obliged to work with a consultative group of deputies, department heads, workers, and other technical personnel. This group could make decisions and give advice, but their decisions could only be implemented by the edinonachalnik, who, in both principle and practice, was free to ignore their advice.

Edinonachalie made enterprise managers responsible for the collective of workers and the out-come of the production process because it gave them the authority to direct the capital, material, and labor resources of the firm within the constraints of the targets and norms in the annual enterprise plan (techpromfinplan ). Since the plan was law in the Soviet economy, this identified the manager as the person to punish if the plan was not fulfilled.

The concentration of decision-making authority and responsibility in the hands of the head of the administrative unit was based upon a strict hierarchical order. Subordinates to the edinonachalnik could not deal directly with higher authorities, although they could report to higher authorities that their superior was violating laws or rules.

See also: enterprise, soviet; techpromfinplan


Kuromiya, Hiroaki. (1984). "Edinonchalie and the Soviet Industrial Manager, 19281937." Soviet Studies 36:185204.

Kushnirsky, Fyodor. (1982). Soviet Economic Planning, 19651980. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Malle, Silvana. (1985). The Economic Organization of War Communism, 19181921. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Susan J. Linz