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Dilemmas of Russian Capitalism

Dilemmas of Russian Capitalism

Fedor Chizhov and Corporate Enterprise in the Railroad Age

Thomas C. Owen

ISBN 9780674015494

Publication date: 02/28/2005

Fedor Chizhov built the first railroad owned entirely by Russian stockholders, created Moscow’s first bank and mutual credit society, and launched the first profitable steamship line based in Archangel. In this valuable book, Thomas Owen vividly illuminates the life and world of this seminal figure in early Russian capitalism.

Chizhov condemned European capitalism as detrimental to the ideal of community and the well-being of workers and peasants. In his strategy of economic nationalism, Chizhov sought to motivate merchants to undertake new forms of corporate enterprise without undermining ethnic Russian culture. He faced numerous obstacles, from the lack of domestic investment capital to the shortage of enlightened entrepreneurial talent. But he reserved his harshest criticism for the tsarist ministers, whose incompetence and prejudice against private entrepreneurship proved his greatest hindrance.

Richly documented from Chizhov’s detailed diary, this work offers an insightful exploration of the institutional impediments to capitalism and the rule of law that plagued the tsarist empire and continue to bedevil post-Soviet Russia.


  • Thomas C. Owen is a leading scholar of Russian economic history, and this book is in line with his previous works on the Moscow merchantry, tsarist corporate law, and the evolution of Russian corporations… This book should be of interest to scholars concerned with theories of economic growth derived from Joseph Schumpeter (entrepreneurial dynamism) and Max Weber (Protestantism)… Owen’s outstanding biography of a tsarist industrialist and ideologist of economic development sheds light on one of the most vital processes in the history not only of Russia but of the entire modern world.

    —Steven G. Marks, American Historical Review


  • Thomas C. Owen was Katheryn, Lewis, and Benjamin Price Professor of History, Louisiana State University and is now an Associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University.

Book Details

  • 292 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press