Juhan Saharov on economic innovation in Soviet Estonia in 1985
PhD research fellow Juhan Saharov has published part of his dissertation as a chapter in the edited volume "The Baltic States and the End of the Cold War". The volume is co-edited by Kaarel Piirimäe and Olaf Mertelsmann from the University of Tartu and published by Peter Lang (2018).
Abstract: It is widely acknowledged that the economic reforms during the perestroika period (being applied mostly in 1987–1989) were the precondition for serious changes in the Soviet Union’s economy as well as the precondition for changing the whole political regime. The literature analyzing this period and “Gorbachev’s reforms” is abundant. However, the period before perestroika has been usually left out from the debate. This approach neglects the previous ideas, proposals, and experiments which could be seen as a part of the roots for the “perestroika reforms.” One such case was the preparation of the experiment of the “contractual work” in customer services in 1979–1984 and the official experiment itself, which started in 1985 in Soviet Estonia. The “second form of contractual work” as a legal form of private entrepreneurship within the enterprises was a departure from the command economy, and it acted as an icebreaker for establishing cooperatives later in 1987, paving the way for more liberal approaches in the service sector. In addition to that, there was also a transnational aspect involved in terms of preparing the experiment. As I will bring out, there were direct links between Hungarian and Estonian economists and administrative institutions of the service sector which helped to work out the contractual work experiment in Soviet Estonia.
Full info: Juhan Saharov (2018). “An Economic Innovation as an Icebreaker: The Contractual Work Experiment in Soviet Estonia in 1985”. In: The Baltic States and the End of the Cold War, Kaarel Piirimäe and Olaf Mertelsmann (eds). Peter Lang, Berlin.