Entrepreneurship and limited access: rethinking business–state relations in Russia
Post-Communist Economies, 2017, vol. 29, issue 3, 265-281
Predominant theories of the Russian political economy explain the vulnerability of independent business to the state, but they do not adequately explain why businesses survive and some thrive. Recent empirical studies of business conditions have not helped in this regard because most focus on ascertaining entrepreneurs’ attitudes rather than observing their behaviour. During ethnographic fieldwork within a Siberian business, the author found that informants were pessimistic about business conditions, but that they did not expect any improvement and had developed pragmatic approaches to securing their position in the local market and competencies required to generate a profit. Their relations with dominant elites were, moreover, cordial rather than antagonistic. To account for these findings, the author draws on Douglass C. North et al.’s Limited Access Order theory and Aleksei Yurchak’s concept of ‘entrepreneurial governmentality’, and seeks to reconceptualise the relationship between business and the state.
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