One-man Management

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

One-man Management


one of the most important principles of the management of socialist production. It consists in granting to managers of various sectors of the national economy those decision-making powers that are necessary for fulfilling the obligations entrusted to them; it also consists in establishing personal responsibility among workers for the tasks assigned to them. Examining problems of the management of the national economy, V. I. Lenin wrote that “large-scale machine industry—which is precisely the material source, the productive source, the foundation of socialism—calls for absolute and strict unity of will, which directs the joint labors of hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of people”(Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 36, p. 200). One-man management promotes the implementation of the principle of democratic centralism.

Opposing the views of the workers’ opposition and of the democratic centralist groups, which distorted the principle of the one-man management, Lenin and the Communist Party upheld the Marxist interpretation of the unity of rights and responsibilities and called for combining collective discussion of problems with the establishment of each manager’s full responsibility for the completion of work.

The effective implementation of the principle of one-man management presupposes a comprehensive examination and analysis of the conditions under which a particular decision must be made and of the goals facing the collective; it also presupposes the combining of the interests of each collective with the interests of the national economy as a whole. Socialist production relations have created objective prerequisites for the extensive participation of workers in the management of the national economy, participation that is organically combined with the principle of one-man management. Concerning this question, Lenin wrote, “We must learn to combine the ‘public meeting’ democracy of the working people—turbulent, surging, overflowing its banks like a spring flood—with iron discipline while at work, with un-questioning obedience to the will of a single person, the Soviet leader, while at work”(ibid., p. 203).

One-man management presupposes the strengthening of state discipline by all means possible, strict observance of socialist legality in economic relations, greater responsibility of each manager for the timely fulfillment of plans and tasks, for the quality of production, and for the careful and judicious use of production resources.

The implementation of the principle of one-man management requires that each manager have sufficient knowledge to enable him to make competent decisions on particular questions. He must know the work of the sector managed by him, its machinery, technology, and organization; he must be able to organize a collective and make each worker an active participant in the fulfillment of the set task; he must have a knowledge of economics, law, sociology, and psychology. In addition, the manager is assisted by a large group of specialists, and he draws on the experience of advanced worker-innovators, who help him to provide the necessary leadership. The cooperation of trade union organizations is enlisted in solving problems directly affecting the interests of workers.

The Communist Party is taking measures to strengthen control over the activities of economic managers. The control of many local party organizations over the activities of the administration—exercised in accordance with the party rules—helps to strengthen the authority of managers and the principle of one-man management.

One-man management means the use of all possible methods of management, including (1) organizational methods, which consist of the selection and disposition of personnel, the determination of the efficient organization of the sector being managed and of the managing agencies, and the establishment of a clear scope of the work, rights, and responsibilities of each subdivision and manager; (2) economic methods, which make use of the workers’ personal interest in improving production efficiency as well as of the connection between the workers’ material prosperity and the results of the activity of the group as a whole; and (3) educational methods, directed toward increasing the production activity of workers and toward the development of their sense of responsibility and initiative.

One-man management under socialism has nothing in common with the despotic rule of enterprise owners under the capitalist production system. The managers of socialist enterprises are trusted agents of the socialist state, and their activity is directed toward benefiting society as a whole.


See references under DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM.


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