Hungarian Startups and the New Spirit of Capitalism

Moral and Economic Catching Up Strategies on the Semi-Periphery

This paper investigates how the Bridge Budapest, a CSR organization founded by leading Hungarian IT startups, attempts to shape the values of Hungarian society towards capitalism in general, and towards entrepreneurship in particular. In my paper I argue that the central aim of the organization is to facilitate Hungary’s catching up with the core capitalist countries through the transformation of the attitudes and the ideologies surrounding capitalism in the Hungarian context, i.e. the local spirit of capitalism. This consists, on the one hand, of restoring the legitimation of some of the core institutions of capitalism, such as the enterprise and the entrepreneur, and of confronting the risk-taking, innovative and ethical figure of the entrepreneur hero with the provincial figure of the ‘postcommunist cheater’. On the other hand, it also consists of propagating a new management of work that aims to produce self-controlling and self-motivating employees. In the narrative of Bridge Budapest IT companies appear as the perfect moral and economic subjects – the bearers of the new spirit of capitalism – that have the expertise to offer solutions to the problems of Hungarian society, and around which the local capitalism should be built.

Released: Replika 99, 109–125.