Introduction to Ph.D. Thesis

“Farm Business Management and Public Governance”

Adukov R.H., Doctor of Economic Sciences, Professor; Head of Division; All-Russia Research Institute of Agriculture Economy, Labor and Governance (VNIETUSH)

The thesis was defended in March 1983

At the current stage of agricultural development the issues of management improvement become of paramount importance. This is explained by strengthening of a number of factors associated with agricultural production intensification. The most important of them are: production specialization and concentration, application of new machinery and industrial technologies, expansion of business linkages among various agricultural industries and production stages.

One of aspects of the management system improvement is enhancement of managerial labor management. The managerial labor, being the most active part of the aggregate labor, plays an important role in agricultural development. The XXVI Congress of the USSR Communist Party stressed the need “To improve performance of administration staff…; to improve quality and efficiency of managerial labor..; to actively disseminate efficient management practices” (21, p.200–201).

In order to create favorable environment for successful implementation of the USSR Food Program the Plenum Session of the USSR Communist Party Central Committee (May, 1982) envisaged the broad package of measures to further improve governance in the agro-industrial sector and to increase performance of farm managers and subject-matter specialists. At the same time it stressed the need “To assist farm managers and subject-matter specialists to improve work style and methods, to improve management and business skills, to up-bring employees (23, p. 92). Consequently, the managerial work management requires focused efforts of researchers.

The main production entity in agriculture is a farm (collective, state farm). Therefore, the production efficiency depends on personnel performance. In its turn, the farm economic position depends on the management system, specially, on capabilities and proactive attitude of its central component — the farm manager as the main management subject. This is naturally follows from his functions and position in the farm business management system. In this context the study of farm manager performance and identification of potential improvements is the most pressing and promising task in the agricultural development.

The agricultural industrialization substantially affected the director work management on all farms. The main driving factors include: increased compactness of enterprises, increased fixed capital and per capita power consumption, more sophisticated production technologies, rhythmical and on-going nature of production processes, more profound labor specialization, upgraded professional qualification of workers, reduced production dependence on natural and climatic conditions, strengthened liaison between research and production.

The farm director work management suffers from a number of typical shortcomings. The essential shortcomings include: inadequately clear allocation of job responsibilities, duplication of subordinates’ functions, irrational use of working time, selection of leadership style and management methods, which do not match the current level of subordinates’ professional qualification, unjustified visits to agricultural authorities, excessive duration of working hours, etc. These shortcomings were in the past as well, however, in the context of production industrialization their adverse impact on work management tends to strengthen.

The purpose of the dissertation study is to elaborate scientific and methodological approaches and to articulate practical measures to improve work management of directors of large-scale industrial-type state farms. To achieve this purpose the following objectives have been formulated:

  • to devise methodological approaches to explore and to improve director work management;
  • to justify the scope of director’s activities in the context of production industrialization;
  • to elaborate the rational structure of director’s working time use by management functions;
  • to justify key priorities to improve director work management.

The theoretical and methodological basis of the study is composed of papers of Marxism-Leninism founders, resolutions of the USSR Communist Party Central Committee and the Soviet Government on agriculture management enhancement, papers of soviet and foreign economists on director work management.

The source materials for the study include: data of photos and self-photos of working hours of state farm directors (these cover over 500 working days), questionnaire and oral surveys, incoming and outgoing documented information, annual reports, data of the Central Statistical Department and the RSFSR Ministry of Agriculture. Institutional development projects and reports of All-Russia Research Institute of Agriculture Economy, Labor and Governance (VNIETUSH) and Labor Research Institute were used as methodological guidelines.

The objects of the study were large-scale specialized state farms — industrial operations located in various Russian regions. “Krasnogorsky” state farm (Chelyabinsk Oblast) was used as the basis enterprise. The selection of that farm was justified because the farm was the advanced enterprise and at the same time it had the most typical production conditions for such enterprises.

In the course of the study methodological approaches have been elaborated that have enabled to justify the rational combination of leadership styles and management methods based on quantitative characteristics. An improved classification of factors influencing director’s work management has been recommended; specifics of impact of industrial production methods on director’s scope of work have been identified; rational working time structure by management functions have been substantiated; time parameters required to perform certain management functions have been estimated; the methodological guidelines to improve director work management have been elaborated. The above mentioned components of the dissertation study constituted its scientific novelty.

The practical importance of the study is that based on examination of work of directors of specialized industrial-type state farms a package of specific recommendations on its rational management has been generated. These include proposals to allocate job responsibilities between the director and his subordinates, working time management, work planning, leadership style, management practices, conducting of business meetings, preparation of working day schedules, etc. The application of these recommendations will enable to simplify the director work and to improve employee performance on industrial-type farms.

The theoretical and methodological findings presented in the dissertation and experiences in practical application of the recommendations to improve farm director work management may be used in further methodological and applied research in work management of farm directors and subject-matter specialists.

Taking into account that the work of director of advanced large-scale farm is complicated, multi-functional and creative, the author of the thesis does not pretend to provide a comprehensiveness of the study and to cover all its aspects. At the same time the study was conducted in the light of key scientific management areas that enabled to use the holistic approach to deal with the tasks of this study.

The dissertation is composed of introduction, three chapters, conclusions and proposals; its overall volume is 183 pages of typewritten text; the thesis contains 20 tables, 3 figures and annex. The bibliography includes 159 items.

The major approaches of the dissertation study have been presented and approved at VNIETUSH scientific conferences of young scientists (1978, 1981), at production and technical council of “Krasnogorsky” state farm (Chelyabinsk Oblast). The production-oriented proposals elaborated as a result of the study have been applied on the basis enterprise — “Krasnogorsky” state farm and have been recommended for application on other industrial-type enterprises.

The author published 4 research papers relating to the dissertation subject with the overall volume of 1.4 printer sheets.