Re: [OPE] socialist planning in capitalist firms

From: <>
Date: Sun Mar 14 2010 - 20:41:56 EDT

> The point is not so much the pre-figuration of socialist planning by the
> increase in the dimension of economic agents in the corporate sector, as
> the limits of central planning as it is shown by the structure of
> capitalist corporate sector. Why doesn‚€™t it have evolved to a centrally
> planned capitalism? The answer lies in the diminishing returns to
> management that these agents face when certain organizational dimension is
> attained.

Dont you think that the conflicting private interests of competing firms
may have something to do with it?

So, the point is what lessons can be derived for a feasible
> socialism, i.e. a decentralized one.
>  A. Agafonow
> ________________________________
> De: Adler Paul <>
> Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <>
> Enviado: jue,11 marzo, 2010 22:48
> Asunto: Re: [OPE] socialist planning in capitalist firms
> I'm not sure what aspects of business planning are worth considering -- I
> am just trying to scope out the issues...
> * I assume that stuff like CAD/CAM and OR applied to inventory planning
> are so straightforwardly technical that their value for socialist planning
> is obvious. (I recall reading something about cellular mfg and CAD/'CAM
> from the USSR in the 1980s).
> * The case of scientific management and its new incarnation as lean
> production is obviously more complex historically, but as I read that
> dossier, it seems pretty clear how to use these techniques under socialism
> (like Sydney Hillman demanded: make it a joint mgt-labor investigation)
> * transfer pricing between units: an old study by R. Eccles showed that
> many "related diversified" corporations used "rational trust" rather than
> cost-based prices or market-prices -- that seems interesting
> * strategic planning: the research on how corporations formulate their
> annual (and longer-term) plans and budgets has (as best I can tell) dried
> up in recent decades. My understanding is that most big companies engage
> an iterative cycle where higher levels propose targets, lower levels come
> back with plans that aim to meet those targets or challenge the targets as
> infeasible, and the results cascade progressively down through the layers
> of authority (corporate -- sector/group -- business unit). Recently, this
> area of management practice has gotten more interesting with the
> introduction of the concept of "balanced scorecard" -- this makes
> explicits the business goals in several distinct dimensions -- not only
> for finances, but also for customer quality, internal process
> efficiencies, and employee "growth and learning".
> ...
> So my query is about whether folks on this list are aware of any recent
> work that explicitly aims to assess progress in the emergent
> pre-figuration of socialist planning in the corporate sector.
> ... Or if they think I've posed the problem wrongly.
> Paul
> On Mar 11, 2010, at 1:13 PM, GERALD LEVY wrote:
>>> Large capitalist firms have sometimes been characterized as islands of
>>> planning in a sea of competition. I think Marx can be read as making
>>> this point when he celebrates the socialization (albeit limited,
>>> partial) that flows from concentration and centralization. I wonder if
>>> anyone has studied corporate planning practices through these lenses.
>>> In what senses do these practices pre-figure socialist planning? What
>>> lessons for socialist planning might we learn from them?
>> Hi Paul A:
>> Well, I don't think Marx anticipated industrial pricing schemes by large
>> firms in oligopolistic markets. And, I'm not sure what aspect of
>> "planning" by these corporations you are referring to? "Scientific
>> management" (Taylorism)? (Lenin and Trotsky referred to this under the
>> NEP.) Operations research and linear programming? Well, that was
>> also developed in a different context by planners in the USSR. Automated
>> production systems which incorporate (no pun intended) planning
>> functions (e.g. computer-aided manufacturing - CAM - and CAD/CAM)?
>> Systems of inventory management and control (e.g. those associated with
>> "lean production" systems? Etc? Etc?
>> In solidarity, Jerry                        
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Received on Sun Mar 14 20:44:19 2010

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