Evolution of the Organizational Solutions in Foreign Trade of Socialist Countries
The organizational structure of the national economy is generally regarded as an important component of the mechanism of its functioning. When relating this thesis to the commercial exchange with foreign countries, one should state that the subjective structure is a crucial element of the foreign trade mechanism. When treating the problem of organizational structure in the trade turnover of the centrally planned economies as the main point of the present considerations, one cannot treat organizational solutions as an independent variable. On the contrary, in the economic reality, there are strong correlations between the organizational structure and the other elements of functioning of the economic mechanism. In connection with this, a synthetic discussion of those interdependencies has been found advisable. It has been done in the first part of the paper. In the analysis, it has been assumed that the evolution of the managerial system of economy and foreign trade in particular, is one of the essential factors determining the rate and range of changes in the foreign trade organization. It gives reasons for the investigation of the main reforms which occurred in this sphere in the East-European socialist countries. A study of transformations in the organization of foreign trade is concentrated on observing regularities occurring in the changes performed. That is why there is no space for a profound discussion of changes that occurred in particular countries. In the article, the author has limited himself to: presenting a generalized starting model of the foreign trade organization which formulates only the most essential features of common solutions accepted in particular countries, at the same time, making no mention of the variety and specificity of the detailed characteristics of secondary importance; a concise description of the main changes and the present state in particular countries; formulating common tendencies of changes; an attempt to define possible directions of future transformations. From the theoretical point of view, a set of possible organizational solutions in foreign trade may by presented as a continuum, where two opposite solutions: centralized and decentralized organizations are two extremes. The former situation is described by the following features: concentration of decision-making rights (including operational decisions) at the higher level than the firm (economic organization); institutional separation of foreign trade from production; the existence of formal-legal barriers of the access to foreign trade for economic subjects; administrative formation of foreign trade firms' specialization; secondary character of contractual relationships between domestic exchange partners in relation to the planned decisions. The latter situation is characterized by: a wide range of decisions made by the executive subject with a simultaneous limitation of a decision competence of the central economic administration (central authorities only make strategic decision from the viewpoint of the whole economy); a possibility of organizational separation or integration of foreign trade and production spheres (depending on the needs); lack of formal-legal limitations of the production enterprise participation in foreign trade; forming a specialization of foreign trade enterprises and other subjects which realize an operative activity on the basis of an economic calculus; a civil-legal character of relationships between manufacturers and foreign trade units. In the practice of East-European socialist countries, there are intermediate solutions presented above. From the historic point of view, a starting point was the way of foreign trade organization that was similar to a centralized organization model. The processes of reforming socialist economies appear, among others, in diverging from this model and introducing solutions with decentralized model features. In various countries, these processes are characterized by a different degree of advancement and differentiated intensity. (fragment of text)
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