Teleological Planning

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The concept of teleological planning refers to national economic planning that is directive in character (planners determine plan directives), as opposed to genetical planning, indicative in character, in which plan targets are influenced by market (demand) forces.

The discussion of alternative approaches to national economic planning was an important component of the early development of planning in the Soviet Union. The teleological school was represented by major economists such as S. Strumilin, G. L. Pytatakov, V. V. Kuibyshev, and P. A. Fel'dman, while the geneticists were represented by N.D. Kondratiev, V. A. Bazarov, and V. G. Groman, all well-known economists. The debate ended with Stalin's adoption of the teleological approach.

The distinction between the two different approaches remains important. The teleological concept implies that planners' preferences prevail; that is, planners determine the objective function of the economy (e.g., the mix of output by sector or product) with consumer preferences being passive. The genetical approach, on the other hand, has important implications for planning in a pluralistic political setting, in that consumer preferences can prevail and serve as the basis for plan directives. The geneticist view is effectively the foundation for the contemporary development of indicative planning.

See also: central planning; economic growth, soviet


Carr, Edward Hallett, and Davies, R. W. (1969). Foundations of a Planned Economy, 19261929, vols. 12. London: Macmillan.

Gregory, Paul R., and Stuart, Robert C. (2001). Russian and Soviet Economic Structure and Performance. 7th ed. New York: Addison Wesley Longman.

Spulber, Nicolas. (1964). Soviet Strategy for Economic Growth. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Robert C. Stuart