Paweł Sulmicki: Steadfast Adherence to Principles
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Publication date: 2006-08-31
GNPJE 2006;209(7-8):105-112
Prof. Paweł Sulmicki was a living legend among Polish economists. His vicissitudes, individuality and intellect earned him well-deserved respect. He was uncompromising in his adherence to ethical and moral principles, and rigorously honest in both private life and work. At the same time, he was an open-minded and friendly person with a great sense of responsibility for others. Educated abroad, he gained extensive practical experience during his military service and while working for many state institutions, including the Central Planning Office (CUP) and the National Bank of Poland (NBP). He combined his impressive economic knowledge with straightforwardness. A patriot brought up to respect work, he had a deeply ingrained sense of obligation with regard to the state and society. Prof. Sulmicki became a full-time academic teacher when he was around 50. Earlier he changed his profession and place of work many times. Most of these changes were necessitated by his vicissitudes linked with the tempestuous history of the mid-20th century. Sulmicki built his theory in the belief that “there is nothing more practical than a good theory.” He kept on verifying and confronting his conclusions with the economic reality around him. As the years went by, he developed an increasingly critical attitude toward the economic policy followed in Poland. In a sense, it is a paradox of history that the most interesting and innovative of Sulmicki’s achievements, those involving the theory of management under central planning, lost their practical importance after the collapse of the central planning system. Does this mean that Sulmicki’s scientific achievements in this area are worthless in the light of today’s knowledge and economic practice? Not at all. Of course, it is impossible to directly apply the management rules that he formulated, because the system to which they referred is long gone. But the professor’s management theory still has substantial cognitive and historical value. First of all, it is based on solid economic foundations that take into account the achievements of positive and normative economics, along with the theory of consumer, producer and investor behavior and the theory of finance. Sulmicki’s texts are still useful reading material on the rules of efficient operations. Looking at his work from today’s perspective, Sulmicki would probably recognize his endeavor as productive. After all, he was critical in the face of the economic practices of the communist system. Welcoming the construction of a market economy in Poland, he would probably say that his work toward improving the efficiency of central planning was simply his duty.
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