«Public Administration Issues» Journal,

Post. address:
National Research University
Higher School of Economics
20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow 101000, Russian Federation
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Major Indexing

Research and educational journal
Published quarterly since 2007
ISSN 1999-5431
E-ISSN 2409-5095

Alexander Obolonsky1
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

An Essay on the History of the Russian and Soviet Bureaucratic Nomenclature

2015. No. 3. P. 145–164 [issue contents]

The topic of the paper is the history of Russian nomenclature bureaucratic system from the beginning of the 19-th century to the contemporary time. As the Soviet period is the main subject of attention, the earlier times are considered rather briefly, with the accent being made on the 19-th century attempts to modernize bureaucracy, particularly on M. Speransky’s initiative to introduce an education criterion instead of the domineering then length of service, and also on periodical unsuccessful efforts of the supreme authority to abandon or restrict the meaning of the ranks’ scale. Mechanisms, human sources of nomenclature forming in the Soviet period are considered in details, as well as its evolution, status in different periods and negative consequences of the system as such. It was Stalin who created the nomenclature system and manipulated it. Human qualities and motivations of people in different generations of the bureaucratic nomenclature, a socio-psychological portrait of the bureaucratic «elite», anti-nomenclature repressions of the 30s’, «the golden age» of the nomenclature in the later years of the Soviet Union are described in the essay. It is noticed that in spite of all obvious shortcomings of the system, the rank-and-file Soviet bureaucracy as a whole was not too bad and better than its public reputation. The author distances from one-dimensional assessments of Russian officialdom – both negative and idealizing – and offers a more balanced view. The major fault was not of the people but of the very system of nomenclature, which became one of the meaningful reasons for the bankruptcy of the Soviet regime. Applying it to the conditions of the modern dynamic world is completely counter-productive. So, any tendency to «regenerate» nomenclature principles of forming public management personnel seems contradictory to public needs and dangerous.


Obolonsky, A.V. (2015). Ocherk istorii Rossiysko-Sovetskoi byurokraticheskoy nomenklatury [An Essay on the History of the Russian and Soviet Bureaucratic Nomenclature]. Public Administration Issues,n. 3, pp. 145–164 (in Russian).

ISSN 1999-5431
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