Business Elites in Romania: Their Social and Educational Determinants and their Impact on Economic Performances

Business Elites in Romania: Their Social and Educational Determinants and their Impact on Economic Performances

1 December 2009 – 30 November 2012

Liviu VOINEA, PhD, Senior Lecturer, National School for Political and Administrative Studies, Executive Director, Group of Applied Economics, Bucharest

Laura SIMIONESCU, PhD, Associate Researcher, Group of Applied Economics, Bucharest

Iulia RACZ, PhD Candidate, Group of Applied Economics, Bucharest

This research aimed at identifying the background, profile and system of values for the business elites in Romania, and, based on these data, at achieving two major goals:

– to analyze the relationship between the educational system and the labour market in Romania, on the top management segment of the labour market;
– to analyze the relationship between the background and system of values of the business elites, on the one hand, and the economic performance of the firms they manage, on the other hand.

The study of the Romanian business elites is of paramount importance for the better understanding of the efficiency of the education system, the in-built inequality of the social system and policies, the links between private and state owned companies (through their elites), the political implications of elites ideologies, the institutional capacity building, and finally the dynamism and governance of the economy.

(A few) research questions:

– Is there a sector-based stratification of the business elites? Borocz and Rona-Tas
( 1995) find in Hungary, Poland and Russia a surge of the business elites in the service sector, while the industry sector is underrepresented. We can expect similar results in Romania, since more than half of Romania’s GDP is currently obtained from the services sector.

– Is there a social predetermination of the business elites? Is there gender discrimination within the elites? Is there a social predetermination of earnings inequality, even within the business elites? Maclean, Harvey and Press (2006) find both strong social class predetermination and severe gender discrimination (women being underrepresented) in the business elites in France and the UK. Hansen (1996) finds for Norway that social class origin influences earnings advantages even within the business elite’s members.

– Can we identify a system based on academic meritocracy? If yes, is this meritocracy based on the national education or on international education? ls there a relationship between the type of educational specialization and the managing position? What are the lessons to be learned by the educational system? David et al. (2007) find an increase in the financial expertise and Anglo-Saxon style education (such as MBAs) of the Swiss business elites, which leads to more finance-oriented management practices. Yamak (2006) finds that high-level education has become a pre-condition for accession to the business elites in Turkey.

– Do we have capitalism without capitalists, a managerial type of post-communist society? The existence of capitalism without capitalists is the main thesis of Eyal (2001) for Eastern Europe – but this has not yet been tested in Romania.

– Do we have a circulation of elites or a reproduction of the communist technocratic elites? The latter was the case in Hungary, according to Szelenyi and Szelcnyi (1995), and in  Eastern Germany, according to Best (2005). We will look at what proportion of the current business elites also occupied elites positions during communism; this is an indicator of elites reproduction. We will also look at the share of newcomers in the business elites.