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The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Voicu Ion Sucala (University of Glasgow, UK)

Industry 4.0 in a Post-Communist Culture

The paper discusses the potential of the post-communist countries to progress towards Industry 4.0. The term Industry 4.0 was initially coined in Germany to promote the creation of the ‘smart factory’ — a manufacturing plant embedding various ICT technologies. The concept was subsequently equated to the fourth industrial revolution, and its content has expanded beyond manufacturing context to a systemic transformation of the society, governance structures, and organisational relations. But the evolution towards Industry 4.0 requires not only a significant change of the manufacturing processes, it also requires a significantly different organisational culture.  The discussion is based on the key characteristics of the communist industry, some of them perpetuating after the collapse of the communist system. Immediately after WWII, Joseph Berliner made a more detailed report regarding the Soviet enterprise viewed through the eyes of Soviet managers. After more than three decades, another study on Soviet managers offered the opportunity to analyse the evolution of those practices. Berliner identified ten practices that had survived virtually unchanged along that period After the collapse of the communist system, many studies were dedicated to the investigation of the problems faced by industrial companies during the transition to capitalism and free market. Various forms of Berliner’s persistent practices were identified again. The extent to which those practices still exist today, and the variance among the former communist countries is not well documented. Nevertheless, their existence embedded in the organisational culture – especially in that of organisations with a long existence, will impact significantly the progress towards Industry 4.0. The paper discusses each practice, on the one hand as an abiding characteristic of the planned economy, and on the other hand as a possible factor impacting on Industry 4.0 successful implementation.