The goal of this chapter is to discuss key values and archetypes of Russian culture that have developed over several centuries of Russian history. This fundamental introduction is important because these values and archetypes have successfully manifested themselves through various institutions of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia. What are they and what are their roots? Answers to these questions can help us better understand Russian economic and business culture that shapes the behaviour of entrepreneurs, investors and employees in the current economy, and also political and legal traditions that play enormous roles in establishing and running a new enterprise in contemporary Russia. In particular, the state will play an important role in our narrative; indeed, in Russia, one cannot talk about business without talking about the state. Evolution of property rights and economic freedoms, risks and advantages of state interventions in the market economy and relationships with local authorities or regulatory bodies, including legendary issues of “autocracy” and “corruption,” have enormous importance for business in Russia.

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Copyright © 2014 Hanken School of Economics. This book chapter first appeared in Taking Your Business to Russia. A Guidebook and Historical Overview for Entrepreneurs.

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