Petty Tutelage

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Petty tutelage in the Soviet economy meant that the day-to-day operations of enterprises could be (and frequently were) directly influenced or controlled by decisions or actions of the industrial ministry to which the enterprise was subordinate. While Soviet enterprise managers ultimately were responsible for producing the goods identified by planners, industrial ministry officials exercised control over the firm in a number of ways. First, the industrial ministry annually allocated the plan targets among the enterprises subordinate to it, thereby defining changes in output requirements by firm over time. That is, ministry officials were responsible for disaggregating the targets they received from Gosplan, the State Planning Committee, and preparing the annual enterprise plan, the techpromfinplan. Second, industrial ministry officials distributed the financial resources provided to them by state committees to individual firms. Financial resources included funds for wages and investment purposes. Third, each industrial ministry redistributed profits earned by firms subordinate to them among these same firms. Finally, ministry officials responded to requests from enterprise managers to change or "correct" output plan targets or input allocations over the course of the planning period if circumstances precluded successful plan fulfillment.

During perestroika, numerous policies were adopted to reduce petty tutelage by industrial ministry officials over Soviet enterprise operations. Some view the reduction of ministerial tutelage and the corresponding increase in decision-making authority by enterprises as a cornerstone of perestroika. Ministry officials were to cease exercising routine daily control over enterprises and focus instead on long-term issues such as promoting investment and technological advance. However, performance measures applied to the industrial ministry remained linked to the performance of their firms, and the ministry retained control over funds and resources to be allocated to Soviet enterprises. Consequently, in practice, it is unlikely that petty tutelage declined.

See also: gosplan; techpromfinplan


Berliner, Joseph S. (1957). Factory and Manager in the USSR. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Gregory, Paul R. (1990). Restructuring the Soviet Economic Bureaucracy. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Susan J. Linz