Blockbusters or Bridge-Builders? The Role of Western Trainers in Developing New Entrepreneurialism in Eastern Europe
Since the start of the transformation in Eastern Europe in late 1989, there has been a marked increase in training programmes and activities designed to modernize human capital in the region. Many of the initiatives are financed by the EU or other western sources and led by western training providers. This article deals with classroom training activities as a particular mechanism for developmental activity for post-socialist managers. Its empirical basis is a four-year training project that took place in Bulgaria from 1992 to 1996. The educators and trainers were from various EU countries while the trainees were Bulgarian middle and top-level managers from private and state-owned organizations. The article commences by considering why the western commitment to experiential learning appears to be compromised when trainers travel East, and relates this to broader issues of knowledge creation, ownership and transfer. As a prelude to describing the training programme itself we provide a brief insight into Bulgarian culture and then reveal trainee perceptions as to the value of the training initiative. We conclude by suggesting that if such training is to be meaningful to audiences in the post-command economies the principles of experiential learning need to be both reasserted and modified.