#12 - JRL 7253
Scandinavian Journal of Management
Alienation in state-owned and private companies in Russia
Moshe Banai and Jacob (Yaakov) J. Weisberg
Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College--CUNY, One Bernard Baruch Way, New York, NY 10010, USA
School of Business Administration, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan 52900, Israel
This study explores the level of alienation among Russian employees in state-owned and private business organizations over a period of 2 years. Based on the employment situation in Russia, employees in private companies were expected to be more alienated from their work than employees in state-owned companies. Survey data have been collected from 725 employees in five state-owned and three private Russian companies in 1994 and 1995. The results indicate that employees in private companies are more alienated than their counterparts in state-owned companies. Moreover, while the level of personal alienation has not changed over the 2-year period, social alienation has become more prevalent. It is concluded that as opposed to social alienation, which tends to change with a transition in the political and economic systems, Western style personal alienation is a steady measure of individual's attitude towards life that hardly changes in reaction to environmental changes. Logistic Regression analysis revealed Self-Estrangement to be more prevalent among employees in private companies than among employees in state-owned companies. Implications for research and practitioners are discussed.
This study aims at the examination of the relationships between employees' alienation at the working place and changes in ownership structure as a result of the transition in Russian economic and political system. As alienation can have negative impact on organizational performance, we might gain valuable knowledge through the examination of such relations, particularly, on the dimensions of and reasons for alienation and how it is affected by changes in the environment.
The main proposition, based on Western perception and theory of alienation, is that as the Russian market is moving from a planned economy controlled by the state to a free market system, workers become more alienated. The Russian economic and political transformation is described, followed by a description and analysis of the concept of alienation, and an empirical investigation testing a set of hypotheses. Finally, the results are discussed in light of the transformation and some conclusions are drawn for the sake of practitioners.
1.1. Ownership systems--state-owned and private companies in Russia The Portable Karl Marx (1983) suggested in 1844 that workers who posses control over their means of production are less likely to be alienated than wageworkers. Hence, according to Marx, workers should eliminate private ownership in order to diminish the alienation involved in wage earning. One of the purposes of the Russian revolution of 1917 was to provide the Russian workers with the necessary control over the means of production so that they benefit from equality, freedom and work involvement. Lenin implemented the first step towards the possession of means of production according to the Marxist theory by creating proletarian dictatorship, i.e. the dictatorship of the vast majority in the interest of the vast majority (Deutsch, 1970). In reality, Russian revolution may have handed employees with power and direct control over the means of production only for a short period of time (Dyker, 1981). The Russian political and economic systems have turned around 180 deg. to reestablish a free market in 1991. This shift in Russian political system, from that of a planned economy to one of a free market, is probably the largest peaceful revolution of the 20th century (The Economist, 21 November, 1998).
Change should be measured over time, in this case before and after the 1991 transition. Since very few comparative studies (Ost, 1990; Burawoy & Lukacs, 1992; Hough, 1997) were conducted during the period of centrally planned economy in Eastern Europe there are no comparative data that we may use to find out about a possible change in Russian employees' level of alienation. The best next alternative is to follow the change in the Russian economy and to explore the level at which there are differences between two groups of workers. The first group includes those who simply go on with their routine and continue to work for state-owned companies. The second group comprised of those who have changed their place of work and moved to the newly established private companies.
In state-owned companies government still uses old style reward system to control employee's work and life. For instance, salaries are comparatively low and are not paid regularly, employees are offered subsidized products and services, barter is being used to replace wages, and employees are not fired even when there is no more need in their services (Gardner, 1997). In private companies employee's organizational life is separated from their private life. Not only that the distinction between the state-owned enterprises and private companies is not very clear, but also the two types of business change their nature. As time passes by, both state-owned and private companies change their features. Russian state-owned companies take on features similar to those of Western state-owned companies and Russian private companies resemble more and more Western private firms.
1.2. State-owned and private companies in the West
Although management practices in the West are not similar to those in Russia, there is some common ground. Based on current reports (The Economist, 8 April, 1995) Russian attitudes to business have changed. In addition, Western-based behavioral theories and techniques may be helpful in meeting the performance challenges facing human resource management in rapidly changing and different cultural environment (Luthans, Sommer, & Welsh, 1993). Russian managers may have changed their perceptions of the way people and jobs should be managed.
Western studies have differentiated between state-owned and private companies' primary goals. Private organizations ultimately seek to maximize profit, because to do less is to fail in the market place. State-owned organizations are empowered through law and held accountable to the institutions assigned by the public to administering the law, in pursuing state's goals (Vasu, Stewart, & Garson, 1990). Because of the differing goals state-owned companies' employees are expected to accomplish multiple, sometimes contradictory objectives (Rainey, Backoff, & Levine, 1976). Moreover, state-owned companies managers do not rely on performance-based incentives and therefore they have to control their workers closely (Solomon, 1986). Consequently, state-owned companies' workers are likely to develop a sense of external control and contradictory role demands, antecedents for a lower organizational commitment (Buchanan, 1974; Fottler, 1981; Rainey et al. (1976); Rainey, 1979). Additionally, state-owned companies are characterized by more bureaucracy, routinization, overstaffing, role ambiguity, and role conflict, and less task autonomy, task variety and feedback than private ones (Rainey et al., 1976; Solomon, 1986). These differences tend to make the content and challenge of workers' jobs less interesting in the state-owned companies thus affecting negatively their organizational commitment (Bourantas & Papalexandris, 1992; Buchanan, 1974; Perry & Porter, 1982 Whorton & Wortheley, 1981). These studies and others that looked into differences between state-owned and private companies used organizational commitment as a measure of employees' attitudes toward organization. In the absence of a better empirical measure, we shall use organizational commitment as a proxy variable to extrapolate on personal and social alienation in state-owned and private companies.
An intriguing individual's attitude that has been suggested by prominent sociological and political philosophers to differentiate between centrally planned and free market systems is workers' alienation. There are many conflicting and overlapping ways to think about alienation and the literature itself is somewhat confused about what is actually being measured. However, this concept is a centerpiece in the debate between two groups of political philosophers. One group (Marx, 1875) believes that state's (and later the commune's) intervention and control can secure equally shared individual freedom. The second group (Smith, 1776) believes that only no, or minimal, state's control can secure equally shared individual freedom. Hence, alienation has been selected to discriminate between state-owned and private companies in Russia. Clarification of the concept of alienation and its dimensions are presented here.
1.4. Dimensions of alienation
Alienation is defined by the Oxford dictionary as "the action of estranging or state of estrangement". Through time the concept of alienation has accumulated many meanings, all involving a person's estrangement--from God, from nature, from society, from work or from oneself. The philosopher Karl Marx, in his monumental work Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 (The Portable Karl Marx, 1983), coined the term alienation within the field of political economy and explained that:
"...the worker is related to the product of his labor as to an alien object...the more the worker exhausts himself, the more powerful the alien world of objects which he creates over and against himself becomes, the poorer he and his inner world become, the less there is that belongs to him as his own" (134).
Marx saw the worker in the industrialized world as estranged from the means of production that belong to the factories' owners, and detached from the decision-making process that is managed by autocratic managers, and hence deprived of intrinsically meaningful work. Marx blamed the division of labor, when "each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape" (Giddens, 1971, p. 3) as the primary source of man's lost of creativity and man's alienation from work.
While in classical Marxism the ownership system was suggested to discriminate between alienated and involved workers, later European theories of alienation tended to emphasize workers' control over their work as the differentiating element between alienated and non-alienated workers (Shalpentokh, 1985; Feldman-Leibovich, 1995).
Workers' control over their work was adopted by Blauner (1964) to trace the way in which different social and technological conditions affect workers' attitude to their jobs and factories.In Blauner's view "industrial powerlessness" incorporates four elements. The first element is the producer's alienation from ownership of the means of production and the finished products. The second element is the worker's inability to influence general managerial policies. The third element is the worker's lack of control over the conditions of employment. The last element is the worker's lack of control over the immediate work process. However, of significance for the American worker, Blauner contended, are the last two elements only, which directly bear upon his life. The more general and abstract aspects of powerlessness are of no concern to the worker since he has been accustomed to them. "Today, the average worker", Blauner commented, "no more desires to own his machines than modern soldiers their howitzers or government clerks their filing cabinets" (1964, p. 15).
According to Blauner's data (1964, p. 29), from 75-90% of American workers are on the whole satisfied even with routine repetitive work. But this, as Blauner himself noted, is due mainly to an upbringing which induces the individual to rest content with little and not seek more.
Seeman (1972) has added five more types of core feelings to Blauner's powerlessness. They are: a sense of meaninglessness, a sense of normlessness, social isolation, value isolation or estrangement, and self-estrangement.
The focus of Western studies of alienation has shifted in the 1960s and 1970s from a structural one to a social-psychological one (Israel, 1971). This group of studies looked into the detachment of individuals from society and from social goals. Following Durkheim's thesis that modern society lacks the common collective conscience provided by society's traditional values, Katz and Kahn (1978, p. 380) have redefined alienation as "...the negative aspect of the internalization of conventional goals in that it suggests an active rejection of them"
People feel less alienated when they belong to organizations that have some power over matters of importance for the individual such as labor unions, professional societies, and political organizations (Almond & Verba, 1965; Neal & Seeman, 1964; Seeman, 1966). Moreover, people feel more alienated when they belong to a low socioeconomic group (Meier & Bell, 1959; Bullough, 1967).
Studies about the relationship between job characteristics and alienation found that, in general, workers who are engaged in monotonous, machine paced, closely supervised jobs are more likely to be alienated (Weiss & Reisman, 1961; Blauner, 1964; Wilensky, 1964; Bass, 1965; Crozier, 1965; Kornhauser, 1965; Aiken & Hage, 1966; Weissenberg & Gruenfeld, 1968; Lawler & Hall, 1970; Shepard, 1970; Lawler, 1973; Kohn, 1976; Saleh & Hosek, 1976; Ashforth, 1989). Korman, Wittig Berman, and Lang (1981) identified four work-related factors that may contribute to social and personal alienation: disconfirmed expectations, contradictory role demands, sense of external control, and loss of affiliate satisfaction.
Later group of studies (Mowday, Porter, & Steers, 1979) replaced alienation with organizational commitment and looked into the relationship between job characteristics and organizational commitment. This shift was probably a result of business organizations' lack of concern with the "self" of their workers. They were more concerned with the behavioral implications of possible changes in that "self". The evolvement, at that time, of the behavioral psychology framework for studying organizations just encouraged the replacement of alienation with commitment in studying workers behavior in organizations.
Although organizational commitment and alienation represent different concepts, they have frequently been used to reflect opposite sides of the same spectrum. Several reviews report consistent negative correlation between organizational commitment and both employees' intention to leave the organization and actual turnover (Mathieu & Zajac, 1990; Tett & Meyer, 1993; Allen & Meyer, 1996). Indeed, across many different samples of employees, affective commitment has been positively correlated with various self-reported measures of work effort such as job challenge, degree of autonomy, and variety of skills the employees used (Steers, 1977; Colarelli, Dean, & Konstans, 1987; Ingram, Lee, & Skinner, 1989; Sager & Johnston, 1989; Randall, Fedor, & Longenecker, 1990; Dunham, Grube, & Castaneda, 1994; Leong, Randall, & Cote 1994; Bycio, Hackett, & Allen, 1995). In addition, several studies have reported significant negative correlation between affective commitment and various self-reported indices of psychological, physical and work-related stress (Jamal, 1990; Reilly & Orsak, 1991; Ostroff & Kozlowski, 1992; Begley & Czajka, 1993).
Moreover, Zefanne (1989) pointed out that organizational commitment is more likely to be found among employees who believe that they are being treated as resources to be developed rather than as commodities to buy and sell. Hence, it is likely that similar antecedents affect organizational commitment and alienation, though in opposite directions. While the studies of the 1960s and 1970s focused on workers' alienation, Hannah Arendt (1973) wrote on the extent to which intellectual as well as physical labor can be alienating. Specifically she stated that fabrication, as distinguished from action, on the one hand, and sheer labor, on the other, is always performed in a certain isolation from common concerns, no matter whether the result is a piece of craftsmanship or of art.
Korman et al. (1981) extended this line of research and unveiled alienation among managers and professionals (Ashamalla, 1987, Papamarcos, 1995). They argued that in the modern world, many employees engage their skills rather than their labor, and in most cases their output is a service rather than a tangible product, and therefore it seems that alienation is not all a result of boring jobs and non-understanding managers. They concluded that alienation is a universal phenomenon (at least in the Western world) and better explanations are needed to understand it. The universality of workers' alienation is part of a number of international and comparative studies that are presented here.
1.5. Alienation in international studies
Based on the literature of the 1970s, Hofstede (1980) looked into the relationships between national cultures and workers' alienation. He claims that in countries where the level of uncertainty avoidance is high (risk taking is low) people, in general, tend to feel that they have less control over the world around them, and over their own life in particular. This fact may lead these people to feel more alienated. On the one hand, organizations in countries with a high level of individualism such as the USA, which tends to reinforce individualism in the work place, may lead their workers to feel more alienated. On the other hand, organizations in countries with a high level of collectivism, such as Japan, may alienate the worker if they do not take close care of the worker's family. Moreover, Hofstede (1980, p. 269) suggested that "in more collectivist societies the link between individuals and their work organizations is moral by tradition...in such societies, free market capitalism with the supremacy of the profit motive, and which considers the labor contract between employer and employee as a calculative bargain, is an alien element". Interestingly enough, calculation of risk has taken over ethical principles govern by emotions in day-to-day interpersonal as well as business relations in Russia (Ledeneva, 1998).
Investigators who compared organizational commitment of Japanese and American workers have been surprised to find out that American workers are at least equally if not more committed to their organizations than their Japanese counterparts (Luthans, McCaul, & Dodd, 1985; Lincoln, 1989; Near, 1989). These investigators are of Western background and they have used Western constructs of organizational commitment in their studies, hence, caution is called upon in the interpretation of these studies' results.
While Hofsted's sample of countries did not include Russia, a recent study by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1998) found Russian to relate to organizations as social rather than functional system. Russians are hierarchical and more particularistic than universalistic and they tend to break systems' rules. Russians' locus of control is external and they may feel that the state organizations influence their fate. Therefore, Russian workers expect their managers to give them guidance on how to perform the job rather than to make their own decisions. However, they strongly believe in individual responsibility. They are diffused and affective in their responses, bringing their private life into the employing organizations. These set of values and attitudes is anchored in Russians' basic perception of work as a collective rather than a private matter and as life sustaining, inescapable evil (Feldman-Leibovich, 1995).
1.6. Operationlization of alienation
Following Mills (1956) and Josephson & Josephson (1962), Korman et al. (Undated) proposed that the general concept of alienation could be divided into two factors: personal alienation and social alienation. Personal alienation involves a sense of separation from personal identity and it is a result of a person's high feelings of anxiety. It describes the feeling we have when we believe that our everyday actions are not reflecting our real self but something superficial to it. Social alienation is a feeling of a sense of separation from social life. This feeling is a result of high level of anxiety towards the social world that engulfs the individual.
By empirically testing Korman's two-factor theory of alienation in state-owned and private companies in the transitional economy of Russia this study makes two leaps forward. First, it takes the definitions and the operational measurement on their face value and compares levels of personal and social alienation of Russian workers in state-owned companies with those of Russian workers in private companies. Second, it expands our understanding of Korman et al.'s two-factor theory by investigating the relationship between personal and social alienation and the ownership system of the company. Based on their definitions, personal and social alienation are supposed to measure different types of alienation and therefore theses two variables may behave independently under varying external circumstances.
An extrapolation of Western theories to the Russian population may suggest that state-owned companies' workers would be more alienated than private companies' workers. This view may also be supported by initial findings of research that looked into the expectations of Russian state-owned companies' managers of the newly privatized business. They have prioritized the objectives of financial break even, development of employees, and self-actualization, as the most important objectives for private business (McCarthy and Puffer, 1994). The accomplishment of such objectives, which resemble to a great extent Western management objectives, in private companies may reduce workers' alienation.
An alternative view may suggest that private companies' workers are those workers who have lost their jobs in state-owned companies. Losing a job is not only a devastating personal event, but in Russia it also meant losing many of the benefits traditionally provided by the state, and for some workers, working harder for less. At the same time, state-owned companies' workers maintained their old jobs and also continued to benefit from the state's compensation and benefits. Consequently, we may expect that private companies' workers would be more alienated than state-owned companies' workers. While Western theory of alienation in state-owned and private companies is empirically grounded, something which could not be said for European theory of alienation, it is more likely that Russian workers will develop attitudes based on their own life realities rather than on Western realities. Hence, based on the second explanation, that of Russian reality, and aggregated for the years 1994 and 1995, the following hypothesis is formulated: Hypothesis 1:.
The level of alienation of Russian private companies' workers is higher than the level of alienation of Russian state-owned companies' workers.
Currently, private companies' workers may be more alienated than state-owned companies' workers. However, gradually Western theories of management are being applied to the management of organization in the newly formed free market. Therefore, we may expect that, within a certain time frame, private companies' workers will overcome the shock of their own transition and will adjust to the new reality, decreasing their level of alienation. In that case we may expect the scores for private companies' workers on alienation to decline. State-owned companies' workers may follow a similar path. Their managers may apply Western management style to their corporations in order to be able to compete with the private sector. State-owned companies' workers may learn how to cope with the new reality of their organizations and reduce their level of alienation too. The second hypothesis is formulated as follows: Hypothesis 2:.
The level of alienation of Russian workers is higher in 1994 than their level of alienation in 1995. ....
4. Discussion and conclusions
It is not surprising that workers in the newly established private sector in Russia are more alienated than workers in state-owned companies. First, by definition, all those workers who now work in the private sector used to work in state-owned companies, and therefore many of them have lost their previous protected jobs, a loss which could have a devastating effect on the individual (Baron & Byrne, 1991). Second, those people who have lost their jobs were not socially or psychologically prepared to search for a new job, to identify and select one, to negotiate a salary and term of employment, and to acquire new skills. Hence, they were not prepared for the changes that occurred in the labor market. Third, whether they lost their jobs or changed them voluntarily, the workers in the private sector were engaged in a new game. They were not prepared for the demands of the new situation in the same way that the owners and managers of the new companies were not prepared to employ and manage workers. This confusing situation lead to role ambiguity, a factor that was found to influence work alienation. Fourth, while in 1991-92 friends were considered the most reliable business partners, by 1994 the rhetoric of friendship turned around 180 deg. . Friends were excluded from business otherwise friendship was lost and business became very cynical (Ledeneva, 1998). This changing value system could only increase workers negative attitudes toward their peers, employers, the new political system that caused the problem in the first place, and life in general. Workers in state-owned companies did not go through a similar turmoil and therefore did not have the same reasons to increase their level of alienation.
This finding does not necessarily confirm the hypothesis that classification of antecedents of involvement and alienation in the private and the public sector in the West could be applied in Russia. The emerging private sector in Russia is currently unique in its structure and operations and therefore the antecedents that influence it may differ from those that influence private and public business in the West.
While Korman's two factor concept and scale of alienation has been measured and validated in the USA and some other countries such as Israel and Cyprus, it has not been proven to apply in Russia. The specific factors generated in this study yielded partial results. Using concepts of alienation which are anchored in social psychology, and which have been tested and partially validated in the West, to generate hypotheses about workers in the transitional economy of Russia, has not proven to be effective.
High level of the individual's education was found to be a good predictor of a low level of alienation. It correlated significantly with three out of the four factors of alienation. It did not significantly correlate with Social Involvement. It seems that people with a higher level of education were better positioned to tackle major changes in their environments. Regardless of the ownership type of their organization, workers with a high level of education saw the world in a more positive way than workers who lacked education saw it.
Women were less likely to feel personal alienation than men did. Gender correlated significantly with Self-Estrangement (personal alienation) but not with any aspect of social alienation. We may guess that women, in general, have some mechanisms that make them better equipped to deal with themselves and with the world around them. As one Russian woman stated it: "Women are more flexible in changing conditions. They adapt more easily" (Business Week, October 16, 2000, p. 84).
The most interesting question that could be answered partially by this study is what is alienation? The psychological theory of general alienation has been classified by Korman to contain two elements: personal and social alienation. The current data suggest four elements.
The first one--Self-Estrangement--is identical to a major part of the Personal Alienation element proposed by Korman. It is also an empirical measure of the concept of Self-Estrangement coined by Seeman (1972). It correlated very strongly with Social Isolation and with Others' Estrangement but quite low with Social Involvement. The second element--Social Isolation--is a term coined by Seeman (1972) and the current construct is a good empirical measure of this concept. The third--Others' Estrangement--is a concept similar, though not identical, to Seeman's (1972) concept of Social Estrangement. Both Social Isolation and Others' Estrangement elements are mostly associated with Korman's Social Alienation factor. However, while in Korman's study they constituted one factor, in our study they correlated with each other at the level of 0.47. Private companies' workers significantly decreased their scores on Others' Estrangement and non-significantly on Social Isolation. Public sector workers increased their scores on Social Isolation and Others' Estrangement, though not significantly. These opposite shifts in these dimensions of alienation are probably the result of unfulfilled expectations. Private sector workers probably expected positive change in their life, and state-owned companies' workers probably expected that their companies would continue to dominate the economy for their own benefits. Both did not occur. The new private organization may have improved the life style of their owners but not that of their workers. Similarly, managers that took charge over state-owned companies had generously compensated themselves but did not change the standard of living or the quality of life of the companies' workers.
The increase in social isolation of state-owned companies' workers could be explained by the fact that at the time of the study there was a general perception in the public that a private company could not be managed legally and ethically. These views were probably not shared equally between workers in state-owned companies and private companies. State-owned companies' workers probably perceived their own organizations to be legitimate and private companies to be illegitimate. Being employed by private companies' workers in those companies could not avoid having a cognitive dissonance to perceived both state-owned and private companies to be legitimate. This difference may have yielded different levels of social isolation in workers in these two sectors.
The most problematic alienation element is the fourth one--Social Involvement. It includes all three statements of the original scale of alienation that had positive connotation as opposed to the other 15 statements that were stated negatively. It includes items that originally belonged to both Personal and Social Alienation factors and its correlation with the other factors of alienation was very low. Two explanations are provided. First, it is possible that because Russians are not familiar with the completion of survey questionnaires, those statements that did not have a negative connotation, like the rest of the questions, were confusing for them. Attention should be given to the direction of questions in surveys conducted with people who have not been exposed to this type of research in the past.
The second explanation suggests that the construct of alienation has and should have only negative connotation. The concept of Social Involvement is part of the construct of organizational commitment, it has positive rather than negative connotation, and probably it should be used and measured separately from alienation in research in social sciences. It is interesting to note that similar findings were found in a research project conducted by Banai and Reisel (1993) on expatriate manager's organizational commitment in multinational corporations (MNCs). Banai and Reisel found that the factor that could best discriminate between an expatriate and non-expatriate in MNCs was the Organizational Involvement of the manager and not Organizational Loyalty or Organizational Identification.
People may have two separate mechanisms to deal with their day-to-day reality. A negative and passive mechanism that could be titled alienation and a positive and active mechanism that could be titled involvement. While these two mechanisms may correlate with each other, this correlation could be a result of a common antecedent rather a result of commonality. This dichotomy between organizational involvement and alienation may also be responsible for the fact that Self-Estrangement (alienation) was found to be a good predictor of sector membership while Social Isolation, Social Involvement and Others' Estrangement (involvement) did not contribute significantly to the explanation of sector's membership in Russia. However, the explanation of this phenomenon requires further inquiry.
Considering the exploratory nature of this study its results are promising. To begin with, this study has extended our knowledge of the operational aspects of the concept of alienation. It has sensitized the social-psychological theory of alienation and made it more specific. Moreover, this study has independently tested Korman and associates' operational measures of alienation, that were developed in the West and showed it to posses positive and partial ability in measuring post-communist alienation. Last, this study has tested the levels of state-owned and private companies workers' alienation in Russia, where the communist regime was created to answer to Marx's criticism of private ownership, and where there are currently enormous changes to the economic and political systems. The study, therefore, has indicated to a possible link between the political-economic and the social-psychological theories of alienation.
The inconclusive results of the comparison between workers' alienation in 1994 and in 1995 could be a result of the fact that though the study is supposed to be longitudinal, it is actually a cross-sectional in nature since the samples in 1994 and 1995 were not identical. The very same workers could not be sampled twice, a fact that may have blurred the results. Alternatively, it is possible that the time gap of 1 year between the two measures was not significant enough to encompass changes in attitudes.
The inconclusive results obtained from using four types, rather than one type, of alienation in the state-owned and private companies could also have two explanations. First, it may be explained by the fact that Russian people did not change their traditional attitudes towards work and went on with their "indifference toward any work in social production as well as to official political activity" (Shlapentokh, 1989, p. 153). They may have continued with their "withdrawal of human energy, emotions, and interests from activity controlled by the socialist state" (Shlapentokh, 1989, p. 227) even though the state is not a socialist one anymore. This traditional indifference may cross-organizational boundaries and may make it extremely difficult to identify specific differences in alienation between state-owned and private companies' worker. Second, it is possible that an instrument that was designed to differentiate between the levels of alienation in state-owned and private companies in the West has limited ability to explore the same differences in Russia.
With the creation of a new middle class in Russia (Business Week, 2000), Russian workers may change their attitudes toward their employing organizations. As we know more about workers' alienation in Russia we may be able to design more specific instruments to measure this attitude. A follow up study that will be based on a questionnaire specifically tailored to the Russian environment, and will include more years of comparison may spot some changes in this trend, yielding clearer understanding of the concepts of alienation and social involvement.
As the world is shifting from centrally controlled economies to private market economies the study of private and state-owned organizations has gained more importance. While it is clear today that the free market system is economically superior to any type of centrally controlled system, the social implications of competition, and the influence of vast privatization campaigns in transforming economies on the individual worker are greatly unknown. Hence, more research should focus on these topics. There are currently great opportunities for such research in countries such as Russia, China, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and other transforming economies. These opportunities may disappear with the disappearance of centrally controlled economies.
The study's results indicate that when the economy is transitioning from one economic system to another workers are disillusioned and alienated. It is probably not the ownership change that influence workers' attitude. It is rather the workers' unfulfilled expectations that alienate them. Managers can try to provide workers with realistic expectations by sharing with them as much information as possible about the organization and its environmental contingencies. Perceived control over workers' organizational environment has the capacity to reduce their level of alienation.