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A Cultural Analysis of Homosocial Reproduction and Contesting Claims to Competence in Transitional Firms

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  • Michael D. Kennedy

Abstract

Drawing on 56 in-depth interviews with American business advisors and East Europe-an managers, entrepreneurs and consultants, I argue that homosocial reproduction -- the promotion of management according to social identification with those above them -- is based on a new cultural formation called 'transition culture". This formation is based on the assimilation of local cultural elements into a conglomeration of global business practices, on the one hand, and the identification of a l@ socialist culture to be expunged, on the other. The relationship of East European cultures to transition culture is, however, unstable. Within this formation, East Europeans must demonstrate their membership with the acquisition of specific skill sets associated with the emergent culture, and treat Fast European differences, like language, as a minor hurdle easily transcended. Sometimes, however, East European distinctions are elevated. This occurs, for instance, when the promise of transition is not met, as when Westerners fail to learn as much about the local conditions as east Europeans have learned about global business practices. Transition culture is also challenged by how to incorporate the significance of connections in transition economics. Finally, transition culture is exploded when East Europeans can claim superior expertise to multinational corporations for whom they work. A post-transition cultural formation should therefore be imagined.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Kennedy, 1998. "A Cultural Analysis of Homosocial Reproduction and Contesting Claims to Competence in Transitional Firms," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 208, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  • Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:1998-208
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