Economic and managerial ethics of Soviet enterprise managers in the 1930s-1940s. Based on sources of personal origin

Print PDF

Scientific article

doi 10.28995/2073-0101-2024-1-232-245

For citation

Dimoni, K. O. Economic and managerial ethics of Soviet enterprise managers in the 1930s-1940s. Based on sources of personal origin (In Russ). IN: Vestnik Archivista / Herald of an Archivist, 2024, no. 1, pp. 232-245. doi 10.28995/2073-0101-2024-1-232-245

Dimoni, K. O., Vologda State University, Vologda, Russian Federation

Economic and managerial ethics of Soviet enterprise managers in the 1930s-1940s. Based on sources of personal origin


This article, for the first time in domestic historiography, scrutinizes the ethical principles guiding the managerial activities of directors in Russian enterprises during the 1930s and 1940s. To address this issue, a selection was made from sources of personal origin, consisting of expressions concerning the principles of managerial ethics, followed by a structured description of these principles. The study employs historical-comparative and historical-genetic methods. The significance of the economic-ethical aspect of the soviet leaders mentality allows for a fresh understanding of the genesis of the soviet elite and its role in the transformation of the socio-economic structure of the country. Furthermore, the examination of the labor ethics of soviet leaders based on personal origin sources is undertaken by the author for the first time in historiography. Additionally, the article introduces a novel approach by applying a systematic structuring method to the managerial-ethical principles of enterprise leadership. The study of managerial ethics is conducted based on personal origin sources, such as memoirs and diaries of enterprise directors. The primary portion of the source complex is extracted from the archives of the Russian State Archive of Economics (memoirs of A. L. Kozlov, A. M. Kontorshchikov, Yu. N. Kozhevnikov, and the diary of M. V. Yasvoin), the majority of which remain unpublished and minimally incorporated into scholarly discourse. The methodological foundation for studying these sources is rooted in A. Rikh's works on the understanding of economic ethics, as well as contemporary Russian historians works on new property relations in the soviet economy of the 1930s to the early 1950s. The author concludes that the fundamental ethical principles adhered to by enterprise leaders in their managerial activities consisted of an «oath» to the fundamental postulates of soviet authority and the requirements formulated by the state. The leaders deemed the principles of centralized command and personal labor participation in enterprise affairs as correct. Regarding moral norms of management, the leaders considered personal gain, nepotism, and favoritism, among other practices, as unacceptable. However, the principles of economic-labor ethics identified through published sources do not encompass the latent stratum of the soviet economic model, where deviations from certain economic-ideological norms, disregard for subordinates, «everyday» norms of managerial material support, etc., were deemed acceptable. The article concludes that a significant portion of soviet enterprise leaders in the 1930s and 1940s adhered to the proposed soviet ideological system of ethical values, striving to uphold and cultivate «socialist» ethical parameters.


Economic-managerial ethics, Russian economy, enterprise leaders, Stalinist era, personal origin sources, management principles, centralized command.

Download the article: dimoni_doi


Amosova, A. A. Norms and practices of official behavior of the Soviet elite of Leningrad in the era of late Stalinism In Russ.]. IN: Vestnik of St. Petersburg University. Series: History. 2020. № 1 (65). pp. 188-210.

Beznin, M. A., Dimoni, T. M. Review of approaches to the study of the model of power-ownership in Soviet Russia of the Stalin period In Russ.]. IN: Journal of the Belarusian State University. Series: History. 2022. № 3. pp. 49-60.

Beznin M. A., Dimoni T. M. Formation of new power relations in Soviet Russia in the late 1920s - early 1950s In Russ.]. IN: Voprosy istorii. 2022. № 10-1. pp. 4-19.

On the Soviet Director. Leningrad: Lenpartizdat publ., 1934. 46 p.

Rikh, A. Khozyazhestvennaya etika. Moscow: Posev publ., 1996. 810 p.

Erlich, A. I. Doroga v nebo: Sketch. Moscow: Triumph publ., 2017. 192 p.

Novokmet, Filip, Piketty, Thomas, Zucman, Gabriel. From Soviets to Oligarchs: Inequality and Property in Russia 1905-2016 IN: Society for the Study of Economic Inequality. 2017. Vol. 16 (2), pp. 189–223.

About the authors

Dimoni Kirill Olegovich, Vologda State University, Institute of social and humanities sciences, department of Russian history, Senior Lecturer, Vologda, Russian Federation, +7-953-506-52-08, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Grant information

The article was prepared with the financial support of the Russian Science Foundation within the framework of the research project №22-28-00325 «Power and property in Soviet Russia (late 1920s to early 1950s): struggle of economic and political interests». Electronic Resource. Access Mode:

The article was received in the editorial office on 21.07.2023, recommended for publication on 20.12.2023.

You can read completely article in the russian historic-archival magazine “The Herald of an Archivist”. Read more about terms of subscription here.

Полностью материал публикуется в российском историко-архивоведческом журнале ВЕСТНИК АРХИВИСТА. Ознакомьтесь с условиями подписки здесь.