Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) have been replete with promise for development of both internal markets and international businesses for over a decade now. Far less of that promise has been realized. Sears and Tamulionyte-Lentz give us an overview of each of the countries in the CEE (with the exception of the former Yugoslavia with its currently intractable situation) and tell us why this is the case and what might be done about it.
The book moves on the experiential level of the persons and organizations, the organizational development strategies and the HR tactics that are needed to succeed in this vast and diverse market, with enough of the economic and socio political background for the reader to understand the context in which these activities take place.
Despite the diversity of the region under discussion, the primary cultural factors that need to be dealt with stem from the long shadow of half a century or more of Sovietization of the economy and its resulting work practices and attitudes. Succeeding in Business in Central and Eastern Europe spells out the challenges of moving organizations and individuals from the survival tactics of a command economy to the trust, participation, entrepreneurship, marketing efforts and selling skills required to become productive and succeed in a competitive global business environment. The book is replete with examples of the structures, habits and attitudes that don’t work, best summed up in the words of Michael Dell, “Your people pose a greater threat to the health of your business than your competitors.”
The book is not without both hope and compassion. Clearly the authors, despite the frustrations they have personally experienced and have reported from others, are in love with their subject. Sears and Tamulionyte-Lentz believe, “that individual effort and initiative, exercised in self interest for success and job security is the basic building block of organizational effectiveness.” They carefully survey existing HR technologies and approaches, and offer those principles, often with case studies, that hold the best hope of success, in order to “…provide a picture of what Westerners who want to do business in the Region will find; to eliminate unhappy surprises; and where possible, to provide suggestions for coping and prevailing.”
Succeeding in Business in Central and Eastern Europe encourages us to patience and sagacity. They review and urge us to adapt relevant master concepts, management approaches and training practices with appropriate cautions in environments where, culture has proven “100 times stronger than the efforts to change it.” Western business people and management professionals, travelers and other students of CEE area, will find here both the cautions and the resources needed to understand what to expect and how to cope when they begin to work in an area where the poor track record of Western involvement is already becoming one more obstacle to success.