Secrecy and Transaction Costs: The Business of Soviet Forced Labour in the Early Cold War


Mark Harrison
Mark Harrison
  • Speaker
Faculty of Social Studies, University of Warwick

Event Information

Type
Research Seminar
Programme
Date
Mon. 31 Jan. 2011
Contact
Time
12:00-13:30 hours
E-mail
Location
Mandeville Building T3-42
Number


Abstract

In 1949 the Cold War was picking up momentum. The Soviet state had entered its most secretive phase. The official rationale of secrecy was defense against external enemies. One of the Gulag's most important secrets was the location of its labour camps, scattered across the length and depth of the Soviet Union. As this secret was guarded more and more closely, the camps began to drop out of the Soviet economic universe, losing the ability to share necessary information and do business with civilian persons and institutions without disclosing a state secret: their own location. For some months in 1949 and 1950, the Gulag's camp chiefs and central administrators struggled with this dilemma without achieving a resolution. This episode teaches us about the costs of Soviet secrecy and raises basic questions about its purposes.
 
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The Business History Seminar has been made possible by financial support from the Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM) and the Vereniging Trustfonds Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.
 
Contact information:
 
Abe de Jong Ben Wubs
Email Email
 
Abe de Jong
Professor of Corporate Finance and Corporate Governance
  • Coordinator
Ben Wubs
Ben Wubs
Associate Professor at Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication
  • Coordinator