Social Scientist. v 10, no. 112 (Sept 1982) p. 21.

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The Quest for Socio-Economic Rationality in Poland and the Crisis

IN the late 1960's, Poland, along with other East European countries and the USSR, introduced comprehensive reform measures with a sufficient degree of decentralisation in the spheres of decision-making in planning and management of the economy. For Poland, this change was all the more significant because the aspiration for self-management among the working people was the most overt and manifest there. Also, the reform brought the question of economic efficiency to the fore. The purpose of this paper is to make an attempt to understand the problematics of the post-reform economic management in Poland and to ascertain, among other things, how far the economic questions contributed to the all-engulfing crisis that besieged and paralysed the entire social life in Poland in the recent past.

An important development within the reform mechanism was the policy of integration of enterprises into Big Economic Organisations (Wielkich Organizacji Gospodarczych, henceforth mentioned as BEO) as a response to stringent requirements of economic efficiency. The BEO plan, popularly known as the Gicrek plan, met with a number of insurmountable difficulties, which led to its virtual abandonment in 1977. One author, in his comments, went as far as to say that the BEO plan started with "light" but faded into "darkness".1 A careful analysis has therefore been attempted to identify the specific crisis points in this plan which might have been instrumental even partially in releasing the impulse in the society for the overall crisis.

Within a short time after the inception of the reform measures in 1968, circumstances in Poland prompted the leadership to think in terms of taking more stringent measures for ensuring greater efficiency in the production process for the whole economy. Even the three-year period of reform experiment (1968 to 1971) was sufficient to create doubts in the minds of people about the efficacy of pursuing the general objectives of the new economic system of management

*Professor, Centre for East European Economics, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune.

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