What is it about?

This paper evaluates the use of personal connections to circumvent formal procedures, known as blat in the Soviet era, in post-Soviet societies by studying its role in graduate employment recruitment.

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Why is it important?

The finding is that blat is widely used by graduates to find a job. However, contrary to the existing literature which suggests that blat has become commodified in post-Soviet market societies with monetary payment being requested by and given to personal connections ‘pulling strings’, no evidence is found that this is the case. Instead, this remains a non-monetised form of friendly help by and for close social relations, akin to the Soviet era. The outcome nevertheless is the circumvention of meritocratic formal recruitment procedures by practices grounded in nepotism and cronyism.


This study reveals that blat remains a form of non-monetised friendly help in the realm of graduate recruitment and despite the encroachment of market relations in post-Soviet societies, personal connections are not treated as commodities to be bought and sold.

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: Evaluating the role of blat in finding graduate employment in post-Soviet Ukraine, Employee Relations, April 2014, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/er-06-2013-0070.
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