Administrative-command system

  (Redirected from Administrative or command economy)

The administrative-command system (ACS) Russian: Административно-командная система, АКС, also command-administrative system is the system of management of an economy of a state characterized by the rigid centralization of economic planning and distribution of goods, based on the state ownership of the means of production and carried out by the governmental and Communist Party bureaucracies ("nomenklatura") in absence of economic freedom.

The term is used to describe the economy of the Soviet Union and the economies of Soviet Bloc, which closely followed the Soviet model.[1][2] Paul Roderick Gregory in his 2004 book The Political Economy of Stalinism: Evidence from the Soviet Secret Archives argues that the collapse of the Soviet Union was due to the inherent drawbacks of the ACS: poor planning, low expertise of planners, unreliable supply lines, conflict between planners and producers, and the dictatorial chain of command (Gregory writes: "the system was managed by thousands of 'Stalins' in a nested dictatorship"). Once the enterprizes gained some freedom during perestroika, the rigid system of ACS imploded.[3]

History of the termEdit

Already in 1985 John Howard in his article "The Soviet Union has an administered, not a planned, economy" argued that the common description of the Soviet-type economic planning as planned economy is misleading: while central planning did play an important role, the Soviet economy is de facto characterized by the priority of highly centralized management over planning. Therefore he writes the correct term would be "centrally managed" rather than "centrally planned" economy.[1]

The term "administrative system" was introduced by Russian economist Gavriil Kharitonovich Popov during the perestroika period in the Soviet Union as the title of a section in his 1987 article "From the Point of View of an Economist", [4][5] which analyzed the novel of Alexander Bek, New Assignment [ru] banned in the Soviet Union. It was published in Russian in 1986, with the beginning of perestroika, and was widely discussed in the society.[6] The term was picked up by Mikhail Gorbachev, who used the expression "administrative-command system" in his November 2, 1987 speech.[4] The concept was further expounded in Popov's 1990 collection of his essays Блеск и нищета административной системы [The Splendors and Miseries of the Administrative System].[7]

See alsoEdit

  • Cameralism, German science of administration in the 18th and early 19th centuries that aimed at strong management of a centralized economy for mainly the state's benefit, closely associated with the development of bureaucracy.[8]


  1. ^ a b Wilhelm, John Howard (1985). "The Soviet Union Has an Administered, Not a Planned, Economy". Soviet Studies. 37 (1): 118–130. doi:10.1080/09668138508411571. JSTOR 151614.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ Ellman, Michael (2007). "The Rise and Fall of Socialist Planning". In Estrin, Saul; Kołodko, Grzegorz W.; Uvalić, Milica (eds.). Transition and Beyond: Essays in Honour of Mario Nuti. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-230-54697-4. Realization of these facts led in the 1970s and 1980s to the development of new terms to describe what had previously been (and still were in United Nations publications) referred to as the 'centrally planned economies'. In the USSR in the late 1980s the system was normally referred to as the 'administrative-command' economy. What was fundamental to this system was not the plan but the role of administrative hierarchies at all levels of decision making; the absence of control over decision making by the population [...].
  3. ^ "The Political Economy of Stalinism", a Hoover Institution press-release about Paul Gregory's book, January 23, 2004
  4. ^ a b Словарь современных цитат [Dictionary of Modern Quotations], 2020, ISBN 5425049846 p. 821
  5. ^ Gavriil Kharitonovich Popov "From the Point of View of an Economist" ([S tochki zreniya ekonomista]), Science and Life, no. 4, 1987
  6. ^ Олейник А.Н, "Экономика как триллер. О книге Ю.Л. Латыниной «Промзона»", Mir Rossii [The World of Russia], no.4., 2003
  7. ^ Note: The title The Splendors and Miseries of the Administrative System is a pun with The Splendors and Miseries of Courtesans .
  8. ^ Wakefield, Andre (2005-05-01). "Books, Bureaus, and the Historiography of Cameralism". European Journal of Law and Economics. 19 (3): 310–312, 318–319. doi:10.1007/s10657-005-6640-z. ISSN 0929-1261.

Further readingEdit