Soviet business leaders are eager to be a part of a capitalistic society and work within a free-enterprise system, according to Mark and Elizabeth Stoddard, business educators.
The Stoddards, owners of the Jefferson Institute in Springville, were part of a team invited to the Soviet Union to clear the way for more U.S.-Soviet business ventures. They spent two weeks last month teaching free market principles and techniques for American-Soviet business."We've started a greenhouse for American-Soviet business ventures and we're laying the groundwork for many business venture opportunities for American businesses," Mark said.
More than 150 Soviet science, agriculture and manufacturing leaders took part in the lecture cruise down the Volga River.
"We didn't know what to expect," Elizabeth said. "We were looking for an adventure. I was the only woman and the Soviets were looking to me to represent women in business.
"It was amazing to us to see how eager and bright and ready for the free-enterprise system they were," she said.
Professor Elvin Kalinin, director of the Soviet foundation INTELLECT and chief scientist of the Moscow Aviation Institute, said the meeting marked the real beginning of normalized relations with the West.
"The free market is coming and we are preparing for it," Kalinin said.
According to Mark, the question is not whether the Soviets will have a market economy, but how fast can they make the change and how will it be done.
One of the most notable changes involves the Jefferson Institute.
"We now have a contract, signed in principle, and we are setting up a Jefferson Institute in Moscow - the first Soviet business school," Mark said.
The text will be "Seven steps to Success for the Entrepreneur" published by the Jefferson Institute. It includes seven volumes of instruction on how to run a business.
"The first book has been translated into Russian and all volumes will be done soon," Mark said.
He was surprised at how deeply the Soviet people want a capitalistic society. "Soviet businessmen understand the free-market system and they are eager to be a part of it. They want change and they want it today," he said.
"It is going to be very difficult for us to use our heads and not our hearts," he continued. "The head says there is a problem with the convertible ruble on the foreign exchange, instability problems and fear of a right-wing military coup," Mark said.
The laws are changing so fast it's a waste of time to run a printing press, Mark said. Fortunately they're all changing in the same direction.
Within the past year, more than 20,000 new Soviet businesses have been created, he said.
"On the cruise, we had one company . . . a new (Soviet) insurance company. It has profitable offices in 12 Soviet cities," Mark said. "They came to us and said their major problem is, `how do you handle the explosion of growth'?"
"They were holding a quarterly training session of insurance agents," he said. "Imagine that, `Boris' is now an insurance agent."
Mark estimates that within the next 12 months they will have trained a minimum of between 5,000 and 6,000 new businesses in the Soviet Union.