The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Russian, kollegial’nost’) a management principle according to which control is exercised by a group of persons having equal duties and rights to make decisions on questions falling within the jurisdiction of the given body. In the consultative form of collegiateness, problems are discussed collectively and recommendations are collectively drafted, although the final decision is personally made by the head of the collegium.

Collegiateness is the highest principle of CPSU leadership. The principle of collectivity in party leadership is substantiated by the works of K. Marx, F. Engels, and V. I. Lenin; it is based on democratic centralism and on the organizational party structure, as set down in the Rules of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The principle is one of the Leninist norms of party life.

Collegiateness manifests itself as a broad exchange of opinions (at party congresses, conferences, assemblies, and meetings of party committees) that makes possible a thorough analysis of various problems and maximizes the chances of avoiding errors. In the strict observance of the principle of collegiateness, Lenin saw a guarantee against arbitrary and random decisions. The knowledge, experience, and uniformity of will and action of Communists are reinforced through reliance on collegiateness, which serves as a means of control and prompt disclosure of shortcomings and errors. The principle of collegiateness excludes willfulness, arbitrariness, disregard of collective opinion, and substitution of voluntaristic decisions for scientific leadership. Collegiateness means the realization of the Communists’ majority will as expressed in party decisions. Free discussion, criticism, and persistence in one’s opinion before a decision is made and unity of action after a decision is made and becomes law for Communists—this is the essence of collegiateness of the party leadership. The CPSU experience shows that a consistent observance of the principle—along with the strengthening of conscious discipline, the unity of action of Communists, and, on the basis of this unity, the strengthening of the creative activity of party masses—is an indispensable and central condition for successful implementation by the party of its role of collective leader and organizer. The principle of collegiateness is also in force in other Communist parties.

In socialist countries, collegiateness is a highly important operating principle of government bodies and of many nongovernmental public organizations. Lenin wrote: “Collective discussion and decision of all questions of administration in Soviet institutions must be accompanied by the precisely defined responsibility of every person holding any Soviet post for the performance of definite, and clearly and explicitly specified, functions and practical jobs”(Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 37, p. 365). Lenin linked the principle of collegiateness with the principle of personal responsibility. The combination of collegiateness with individual responsibility ensures the utilization of the knowledge and experience of many people and prevents subjectivism and the absence of personal responsibility in the process of decision-making and implementation.

In the government administration of socialist countries both forms of collegiateness are used—the consultative and the decision-making. Problems are collectively discussed and decided on by higher bodies of power (including supreme soviets in the USSR, the Sejm in Poland, and the National Assembly in Bulgaria), governments (councils of ministers, state councils, and the like), presidiums of supreme soviets, people’s (national) assemblies, and the executive committees of local government bodies. In the USSR, the decision-making form of collegiateness is used by certain bodies of branch administration, for example, the state committees of the Council of Ministers of the USSR and the councils of ministers of the Union republics. Thus the statute of the State Committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR on Science and Technology points out that the committee makes collective decisions on the basic directions of the development of science and technology in the USSR, the investigation of intersectoral scientific and technological problems, the improvement of efficiency of scientific research, and the ensuring of the quick introduction of scientific and technological achievements into the national economy.

Ministry collegia exist in a number of socialist countries (including the USSR); the decisions of these collegia become effective only if the minister approves them. As a chairman of the collegia, the minister can implement his own decisions, which may not coincide with the decisions of the collegium (this is also the legal status of the collegia of the committees under the Council of Ministers of the USSR). Collegiateness is a key principle of judicial proceedings in socialist countries. In the USSR, decisions in the form of recommendations are made by many collective agencies operating on a voluntary basis: standing production conferences in enterprises, councils on science and technology at the ministries, commissions for assistance at the raion branches of social welfare agencies, and the like.

Further improvement of the work of the government machinery, including management of the economy in socialist countries, is conducted along the lines of strengthening and improving the collegium principle. The CPSU Program of 1961 attaches great importance to the consistent implementation of the principle in the work of all sections of state and economic administration.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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