An Evaluation of the Persistence of Blat in Post-Soviet Societies: A Case Study of Ukraine's Health Services Sector

Studies in Transition States and Societies, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 46 – 63, 2015

18 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2016

See all articles by Colin Williams

Colin Williams

University of Sheffield - School of Management

Olga Onoshchenko

University of Sheffield - School of Management

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

The use of personal connections to gain preferential access to goods and services and to circumvent formal procedures exists in all countries to varying degrees. In this paper, the aim is to critically evaluate the continuing widespread positive depiction of this practice as a form of friendly help. Studying the health services sector in the city of Mykolayiv in Ukraine, this practice known as blat, which was widely used in Soviet societies to gain access to goods and services, is shown to persist in post-Soviet market societies, albeit transformed. Those possessing connections and access to health services now increasingly view such access-assets as commodities to sell rather than provide them as non-monetised friendly favours. The outcome is a call for blat to be re-theorised more negatively as an exemplar of the darker side of social capital, and for a policy shift from doing nothing to seeking its eradication.

Keywords: Social Capital, Blat, Guanxi, Wasta, Corruption, Nepotism, Cronyism; Informal Economy, Health Services, Ukraine

JEL Classification: H26, J46, J48, K34, K42, O17, P37

Suggested Citation

Williams, Colin and Onoshchenko, Olga, An Evaluation of the Persistence of Blat in Post-Soviet Societies: A Case Study of Ukraine's Health Services Sector (2015). Studies in Transition States and Societies, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 46 – 63, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2883481 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2883481

Colin Williams (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield - School of Management ( email )

15 Conduit Road
Sheffield, S10 1FL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/management/staff/williams/index

Olga Onoshchenko

University of Sheffield - School of Management ( email )

9 Mappin Street
Sheffield, S1 4DT
United Kingdom

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