Irina Zinovieva, born in Sevlievo, Bulgaria, in 1959. Ph.D. from Moscow State University. Associate Professor of Differential Psychology, Organisational Behaviour, and Organisational Development at Sofia University.
Mellon Fellow (1 February 2000 – 30 June 2000)
The present research fellowship consists of an attempt to complete a long-term effort. In a period of over seven years (since 1991) our research on human responses to conditions of social and economic transformation yielded a large body of data from surveys with representative samples from Bulgaria and Hungary to compare with the Netherlands and Greece. This is a large international longitudinal study (followed over the course of five years). The results are being integrated in a book, the first draft of which is the major outcome of the Mellon Research Fellowship at NIAS. The book analyses the perceptions of ordinary people who were faced with one of the greatest challenges of the twentieth century: the comprehensive reforms aiming at both establishing democratic civil society and reaching economic prosperity. The book describes the individual sense-making of the new social and economic order, changing values and the meaning of life under the new conditions. The analysis is focused on the work sphere: work motivation, quality of work life, organisational changes. The unique reality helped to identify new phenomena. Quest for meaning and sense, egocentrism at work, the phenomenon of non-paid work on a massive scale and special forms of delayed gratification of needs were identified for the first time in the literature and analysed. The data also offered an opportunity to test the validity of certain stereotypes concerning Eastern European countries which are widely present in the media such as low work motivation, lack of initiative and, generally, that the entire way of thinking had been harmed by the former socialist system. None of these stereotypes found support by the empirical research. The picture that emerged from the data is the one of people searching their new identity, highly motivated to work and to explore their capacities. The book draws lessons from the empirical research for the management of changes both at the level of society and of a single organisation.
Other activities during my fellowship comprised writing a paper to be presented in an International Congress in Stockholm, submission of three proposals for future Congress participation, and design of a common research project with Catholic University of Brussels.