Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Russian & East European Studies

Reader 1

Larissa Rudova

Reader 2

Yelena Tuzova

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Rights Information

© 2012 Brittney A. Lenard


Blat, or the exchange of favors among friends, played a key role in the Soviet Union. The ability to use connections to gain access to hard-to-find goods or services was practically indispensible in the shortage economy. But blat has also been important in the post-Soviet environment, particularly in business. People with powerful connections have achieved success, while those outside of the business networks have been left behind. Thus, the ability to establish and maintain connections determines who succeeds in Russian business today. I argue that this dynamic significantly disadvantages foreign businesses in Russia because it favors insiders, is difficult for foreigners to understand, and most importantly, leads foreign companies into ethically questionable practices that are unacceptable in international business. Using the case of IKEA’s experiences in the Russian market, I hope to investigate whether this theory can inform our understanding of foreign businesses’ experiences in Russia.