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Samoupravlenie, or self-management, was introduced during Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika as a mechanism to induce enterprises to produce quality products desired by customers and as a way of extending democratization to the workplace. Soviet enterprises were placed on full economic accounting (polny khozraschet ), which meant that current operations had to be self-financed from sales revenues rather than subsidized by central or ministerial authorities, and any change or expansion in operations had to be financed from retained earnings. Managers were to be elected by the employees and to work directly with a council selected from among the workers. The objective of samoupravlenie was to reduce "petty tutelage," the phrase for interference in day-to-day enterprise operations by planning or other administrative officials.

Samoupravlenie was part of a larger effort to promote initiative and responsibility in Soviet enterprises. For example, the number of compulsory plan targets given to enterprises was reduced, providing more flexibility for them to select production strategies to improve their operations and performance. Enterprise performance was to be gauged relative to long-run plans and norms. A system of state orders (goszakazy ) was to replace compulsory output targets, although the distinction between state orders and plan targets was never clarified. Enterprises were granted the right to exchange goods, with contracts negotiated between firms to include output, delivery, and price components agreed upon by both firms. Enterprises were also allowed to retain a greater share of their planned profits to distribute as bonuses or to invest in additional capital. Samoupravlenie was an attempt to make Soviet managers responsible for the final results; that is, producing the quantity and quality of output desired by customers, whether firms or individual consumers.

See also: perestroika


Aganbegyan, Abel. (1988). The Economic Challenge of Perestroika. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

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

Susan J. Linz