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Liberman, Yevsey Grigoryevich


LIBERMAN, YEVSEY GRIGORYEVICH (1897–1983), Soviet economist. Liberman studied at the Kharkov Engineering Economics Institute and began his teaching and research career in 1933. From 1947 to 1963 he held the chair of economics and organization of machine-building industry at the Institute. In 1963 he was appointed professor of statistics and accounting at Kharkov University. Liberman received worldwide notice for his pronouncements in a debate which started in 1962 on the need for economic reforms in the U.S.S.R.

Liberman's ideas represented a school of thought among Soviet economists who demanded more rationality in the planning process, new criteria of success, and more freedom of decision-making or autonomy for management. Thus, Liberman represented a reaction against the overcentralization of economic administration in the U.S.S.R., against the insufficiency of material incentives for management and workers, and against many arbitrary criteria of success of individual enterprises. According to Liberman the old system inflicted heavy costs upon the state by obstructing useful innovations and insufficiently stimulating progress, and upon the welfare of the workers and consumers. Liberman assumed that administrative reforms would introduce greater flexibility in the system, and self-interest on the part of management and workers would improve both the quantity and quality of production. Liberman argued that the reforms would not limit the basic political decisions but rather improve the efficiency of the basic economic plans. The goal of every enterprise and the criteria of its success should be the maximization of profits from which the incentive payments for workers and management should be drawn. Thus profits would become, under the Soviet conditions, primarily an index which measures the efficiency of the performance of the enterprise, reflecting the increase of the quantity and quality of production, the growth of labor productivity and utilization of resources, and simultaneously a measure of the reward of society for successful performance.

Encouraged by the promises of liberalization in economic administration made by Kosygin but also frustrated that most of his proposals were not introduced in practice, Liberman continued to advocate direct links between the industrial enterprises and the trade organizations, so as to make the industrial production more responsive to the needs and wishes of the consumers. He continued to demand a decrease of centralization by suggesting the reduction of the number of products centrally planned and spoke up against imposing an a priori wage fund upon the enterprises.


M. Dobb, Soviet Economic Development since 1917 (19666), 379–81; Prominent Personalities in the U.S.S.R. (1968), s.v.

[Arcadius Kahan]

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