Industrial Enterprise and Society in Modern Eastern Europe

Oct, 2019

About the Course:

The course aims to discuss the main economic, social, technological, cultural, and political changes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Eastern Europe through the prism of business organization and entrepreneurship. The course is based on fourteen case studies to facilitate the discussion about historical relations between industrial enterprises in their larger political, economic, cultural, institutional, and social context. The course participants will acquire a broad understanding of the various factors that have shaped the development of East European enterprise, focusing on the opportunities and obstacles to organizations’ success over the history of the region. Through class discussions and assignments, students will be introduced to some of the major debates and methodological issues in the field of business, economic, and social history. Several current global challenges, such as the climate crisis, social inequality, and private data protection, will be discussed from a historical perspective.

The course will address topics such as: the entrepreneurial models developed in Eastern Europe along the different stages of globalization and political change since the Industrial Revolution; the role of entrepreneurs, the state, foreign technologies and capital in the historical evolution of East European enterprise; whether East European enterprise can be discussed within the framework of varieties of capitalism, or rather as a “maverick” region; the differences and similarities between the management and structure of industrial enterprises in Eastern Europe in the periods of Industrial Capitalism and Socialism; the social and environmental effects of the Industrial Revolutions in Eastern Europe.

Case studies have a pivotal role in the course. Each participant will choose a case to analyze and present during the course. Incorporating the feedback received from their peers and course instructors, students will prepare a final paper about the case they have chosen. Students will have to read a case for every class (15–20 pages), so there will be a total of approximately 300 pages of obligatory reading. The course will be based on interactive discussion between all members of the class. Course participants will all share their knowledge with and learn from each other. Therefore, attendance and active contribution are expected from all students.

Disciplinary Scope:


business history, economic history, labour history, business case studies, enterprise and society, welfare capitalism, Socialist enterprise, shortage economy, corporate social responsibility, enterprise cultural heritage, industrial heritage, Eastern Europe

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, students will get familiar with the main theories in the field and will be able to:

The course will develop the participants’:

The attendants of this course will understand:

General Guidelines:

Each class will consist of two parts: 1) discussion of a case and 2) a student’s presentation. Please read the cases before the class and be prepared to answer the questions posed for each section. These questions are intended to help you with preparation; the actual questions asked during discussion in class might be different.

Presentations. You will be required to study one case carefully and prepare a 15-minute presentation about it. A list of the topics from which you can choose is at the end of the Syllabus. You are supposed to explore your topic thoughtfully and launch the discussion in class. Then we will discuss your case together in a round-table format. Therefore, your presentation should be designed to facilitate discussion. Prepare at least two questions to open class discussion. Please email your short presentation (a maximum of five slides) to the course instructor at least one day before the class.

Attendance and participation. Class attendance is imperative: by skipping a class, you deprive the other students of the opportunity to learn from you. Class participants are expected to contribute actively in class discussions, building on the comments from classmates and the class instructor to work towards understanding problems. A contribution is considered meaningful if a student added something new by sharing knowledge, asked a critical question, explained a tricky detail, raised a new possibility, synthesized from examples, or summarized arguments.

The final paper of approximately 1,500 words (excluding bibliography and appendices) should include the following elements: introduction; the enterprise’s historical background; the dilemma; problem-solving (identify options); conclusions (what can we learn from this case?). The paper should demonstrate the student’s acquaintance with relevant theoretical tools and frameworks taught in this course as well as their ability to put the case into a broader historical context.

Grading System:

General Recommended Readings:

  1. Jones, Geoffrey, and Jonathan Zeitlin. The Oxford handbook of business history. Oxford: OUP, 2008.
  2. Freeman, Joshua B. Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World. New York, NY: WW Norton & Company, 2018.
  3. Guroff, Gregory, and Fred V. Carstensen, eds. Entrepreneurship in Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983.

Volodymyr Kulikov

Department of Humanities, Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv