What is it about?

The aim of this paper is to evaluate the extent to which the practice of using personal networks to obtain goods and services or to circumvent formal procedures, known as blat in the Soviet era, persists in post-Soviet societies and whether its character has altered.

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Why is it important?

The finding is that blat is widely used to gain places in kindergartens, schools and universities. However, unlike Soviet era blat which took the form of non-monetised friendly help, in the market-oriented society of post-Soviet Ukraine, both possessing control over access to assets such as educational places, as well as possessing personal connections to those with control over access to these assets, is increasingly viewed as a commodity to be bought and sold, and illicit informal monetary payments are now commonplace. The result is that nepotism, cronyism, bribery and corruption hinder meritocratic processes.


This is the first in-depth empirical evaluation of the prevalence and nature of blat in contemporary post-Soviet societies.

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Evaluating the prevalence and nature ofblatin post-Soviet societies, International Journal of Social Economics, September 2014, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/ijse-06-2013-0147.
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