Peter Wegenschimmel, Mag.


Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies
Universität Regensburg
Landshuter Str. 4
D-93047 Regensburg
Telefon +49 (0)941 / 943-5476


State Agency and Industry in Post-Socialist Europe: On the Visible Hand in the Organizational History of Two Shipyards during Transformation

Project description

A state-owned enterprise in neoliberal Eastern Europe, nationalization of major industrial sites after the experience of socialism, return to forms of self-administration after twenty years? The project "State Agency and Industry in Post-Socialist Europe" presents a picture of the post-transformative industry of Croatia and Poland characterized by paradoxes, path dependencies and subversive workers' protests.

The instrumentalization of the public stake could be described as a kind of counterrevolution during the market transformations in Central and Southeastern Europe. Despite decentralization and self-administration gestures during the transformations the formerly socialist states sticked to their interventionist, almost promethean tradition by establishing capitalism "from the top" (Ekiert, 2003). The consequence was a privatization process, which was badly negotiated with the workers, on the one hand, and the continued existence of state governance within the large-scale industrial enterprises on the other. The project investigates the institutionalization of new forms of state agency in the industry as the reverse, epiphenomenon and premise of neoliberal hegemony (Ther, 2015) and as a phenomenon of simultaneity of the non-simultaneous (von Puttkamer, 2012).

The really existing transformations have contributed to the destabilization of publicly governed economic organizations as well as to their reinstitutionalization. The case of Croatia, in particular, illustrates this ambivalent expansion of state-economic actors during the first phase of privatization, which began with the adoption of the Act on the Transformation of Social Enterprises. With this law, a self-management economy became a market economy. In fact, in connection with the establishment of an ownership economy eighty percent of the companies’ assets were allocated to the state, which was described as "delayed privatization" (Dobias et al., 2000: p. 97). Like the Yugoslav transformation of the 1980s with its austerity policy (Musić, 2016), the transformations around 1990 implied a movement in the direction of centralization and nationalization (Woodward, 1995).

In Poland, the Act on the Financial Management of State Enterprises, which was issued by Treasury Secretary Leszek Balcerowicz, actually constituted a "primacy of the economy" (Ther, 2015: p. 25), which for the first time made financial control, doubts about soft budget constraints (Kornai, 1979, 1980), and thus insolvency executable. A factual criticism of the economic state as such, however, was not necessarily linked to it.

Thus, both in Poland and Croatia, the state institutionalized itself as a business owner – an institution which was said to be provisional during its initial introduction (Wegenschimmel, 2016).

Curriculum Vitae

Peter Wegenschimmel studied Slavic Studies/Philosophy in Berlin and Cracow. He graduated a Master's degree at the Institute of Applied Social Sciences in Warsaw funded by the German National Academic Foundation. Active in Polish Workers' Initiative. Postgraduate Studies in Labour and Social Law in Wrocław. Project work for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in the "Regional Project on Labour Relations and Social Dialogue for Central Eastern and Southeast Europe".
Since April 2016 he has been working as a junior researcher at the IOS in the project  „Transformations from Below: Shipyards and Labour Relations in the Uljanik (Croatia) and Gdynia (Poland) Shipyards since the 1980s". His main areas of research are labour relations in Central and Eastern Europe and (post-)socialist business history in the disciplines of economic and business history, historical social science, industrial sociology and critical labour studies.



(with Veverková S.) Annual review of labour relations and social dialogue: Czech Republic 2015, Hg. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Regional Project on Labour Relations and Social Dialogue, Bratislava 2016 [online, 21.04.16]

Annual review of labour relations and social dialogue: regional abstract for Southeast Europe 2015, Hg. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Regional Project on Labour Relations and Social Dialogue, Bratislava 2016 [online, 21.04.16]

Annual review of labour relations and social dialogue: regional abstract for Central Eastern Europe 2015, Hg. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Regional Project on Labour Relations and Social Dialogue, Bratislava 2016 [online, 21.04.16]

Strategie eksternalizacji ryzyka w zatrudnianiu pracowników migrujących z Ukrainy, in: „Polityka Społeczna", 2016 nr 5 (506), S. 34-39.

Public Enterprises in Poland: Institutionalizing a Provisional Model, in: Geise, Mirosław et al. (Hg.), Transformacja gospodarcza w Polsce, Bydgoszcz 2016, S. 285-292. 

Mechanizmy prekaryzujące w zatrudnianiu ukraińskich pracowników w Polsce, in: „Humanizacja Pracy”, 2016 nr 2 (284), S. 33-48.


Various reviews in "Polish-Studies. Interdisciplinary Scholarly information and international communication"


11/2016 (with Filipkowski P.) Perspektywa oddolna w badaniu historycznym – oczekiwania i rozczarowania, Konferenz „Historia stoczni gdańskiej”, Gdańsk
09/2016 Transformacja stosunków przemysłowych w stoczni gdyńskiej, XVI Ogólnopolski Zjazd Socjologiczny "Solidarność w czasach nieufności" im Panel "Socjologia Morska", Gdańsk
08/2016 Labour Relations after Tito: A Questionnaire for an Industrial Case Study under Transformation,  Doktorska Radionica "Jugoslavenski socijalizam: sličnosti i posebnosti" der Sveučilište Jurja Dobrile u Puli Filozofski fakultet, Odsjek za povijest & Centar za kulturološka i povijesna istraživanja socijalizma
06/2016 The Impact of Transition on the Legitimization of Workers‘ Self-Management from a Comparative Perspective, Konferenz "Falling Behind and Catching Up: Southeast Europe and East Central Europe in Comparison" des Wiener Instituts für Internationale Wirtschaftsvergleiche (wiiw) und des Instituts für Osteuropäische Geschichte (IOG) der Universität Wien
05/2016 Inklusion-Exklusion der Sozialpartner: Institutionalisierung gewerkschaftlicher Kooperation in deutsch-polnischen Grenzräumen, Vierte Internationale Tagung „Polnische Grenzräume im Wandlungsprozess" der Universität Breslau, des Zentrums für Interdisziplinäre Polenstudien der Europa-Universität Viadrina und des Willy Brandt Zentrums für Deutschland- und Europastudien
08/2015 Puppen – billige Arbeitskräfte?, Vortrag im Rahmen der Akademie des IFK Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften
03/2015 Gesellschaft – unmarked space zeitgenössischer Poesie, Vortrag im Rahmen des Kosmos-Workshops „POESIE DER (A-) SOZIALITÄT: Mitteleuropäische Dichtung nach dem Ende des Literaturzentrismus" der Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
03/2015 Dramaturgische Raumstrategien – Junggesellenmaschinen, Vortrag am Institut für Raum- & Designstrategien der Kunstuniversität Linz
Peter Wegenschimmel, Mag.