Topic 2. Family Enterprise

Read: Bowman, Linda. “Seeking salvation: moral economies and management at the Morozov mills, 1885–1905.” Social History 28, no. 3 (2003): 322-345.

The paper examines the history of two large textile enterprises, Vikula Morozov Company and Savva Morozov Company in Nikolsk, Vladimir province, from 1885 to 1905. Their story helps us understand the nature of big family business in the late Russian Empire and introduces three issues: clan rivalries, management-labor conflict, and the battle between the bureaucracy and the private businesses over contested taxes. This case demonstrates the difficulties of initiating, legitimating and “naturalizing” industrial capitalism in a predominantly rural, pre-modern environment. It contributes to our knowledge of the role of ethical ideas and values in setting the terms of business activity in particular historical contexts.

Questions for preparation:

1. How can we explain the entrepreneurial overrepresentation of such groups as Old Believers and Jews, who had a special social position in Russian society?
2. Describe the management style at Vikula Morozov Company and Savva Morozov Company. What are the main similarities and differences? What competitive advantages did these two companies have?
3. How did the Morozovs use a “moral economy” for their advantage?
4. Are there other examples of establishing moral communities by businesses in Europe and beyond?
5. Why is the idea of a family enterprise often romanticized in history?