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The Central Committee Secretariat, the Nomenklatura, and the Politics of Personnel Management in the Soviet Order, 1921-1927

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This article re-examines early efforts to put into practice the nomenklatura system for assigning elite office holders adopted by the Organization Bureau of the Central Committee (Orgburo) of the Russian Communist Party in late 1923. Until recently, scholarly treatments of this issue have largely taken for granted Stalin’s ability to transform the formal authority this initiative concentrated in the executive agencies of the Central Committee into effective administrative power. This article challenges that assumption by looking past official regulations in order to examine the operational records of the body most closely involved in managing the assignment of responsible officials across the soviet political order, the Organization-Assignment Department of the Central Committee Secretariat. The working papers of the Organization-Assignment Department, the Secretariat and the Orgburo make it evident that the nomenklatura had not yet evolved into the central vehicle for managing elite office holding that it was intended to be prior to the Stalin Revolution. The evidence suggests the persistence of ad hoc improvisation in the management of personnel, which produced a hybrid order that relied on an unstable mix of bureaucratic, personalistic and campaign-style methods to extend communist influence over government and economic administration.

Affiliations: 1: Department of History, California State University, Dominguez Hills,


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