Publication Date


Document Type

Working Paper


Professor John Hall

Journal of Economic Literature Classification Codes

B24, P31, P41

Key Words

Cybernetics, Economic Planning, Planning Reform, Socialism, USSR


This inquiry seeks to establish that despite potentially offering significant efficiency gains leading to an era of intensive economic growth, cybernetics in the USSR fell short in being implemented because of a) lack of coordination between competing ministries; b) inadequate policies; and c) insufficient funding. Though the structure of government in the USSR appeared to be centralized and hierarchical, with economic and government plans and policies traveling from the top down, in practice, ministries acted more like heterarchies, leading to ministerial competition over the large cybernetic projects meant to reform the administrative command economy—from the mid-1950s through to the late 1980s. This ministerial competition led to inadequate policies being suggested for cybernetic reforms, with ministries stalling, avoiding, denying resources, or withholding approval for implementing cybernetic projects. Finally, as ministries sought to secure their own positions, cybernetic institutional proposals were denied sufficient funding to implement the nationwide projects that would have represented the development of intensive economic growth in the Soviet Union.


© 2023 Leah Herrera

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