GTO complex viewed as mobilization tool for human resource capitalization


Associate Professor, PhD O.V. Mironova1
Professor, PhD K.N. Dement'ev1
Professor, Dr. Hab. V.I. Grigor'ev2
Associate Professor, PhD O.V. Pristav3
1Saint-Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering, St. Petersburg
2Saint Petersburg State University of Economics, St. Petersburg
3Pushkin Leningrad state university, St. Petersburg

Keywords: Russian Physical Culture and Sport GTO Complex, state paternalism, human resource capitalization, regulative codes, state governance competences.

Background. The Russian Physical Culture and Sport “Ready for Labour and Defence” (GTO) Complex being rebranded pursuant to the Presidential Decree #172 of March 24, 2014 “Concerning Russian Physical Culture and Sport “Ready for Labour and Defence” (GTO) Complex” will become a navigator for the sector strategic development policies pursued by the federal and local executive government agencies of the Russian Federation [4]. Analysis of the related issues shows that the Complex is really acting as a regulator for the sector development process and helps focus governmental efforts on the human resource capitalization to improve health of the nation and strengthen the national defence. Notwithstanding the progress of the project, a universal solution is still needed for a variety of its implementation issues and, hence, the relevant internal and external factors of influence on the project progress need to be explored.

Objective of the study was to offer a theoretical substantiation for the Russian Physical Culture and Sport “Ready for Labour and Defence” (GTO) Complex (hereinafter referred to as the “Complex”) in the modern social, economic and political conditions.

Methods and structure of the study. The GTO Complex rebranding methodology design under the study was performed based on a content analysis of the valid regulatory documents and reference literature, specialists’ opinion polls, educational surveys and the relevant websites monitoring works. The instrumental toolkit applied for the study may be hierarchically classified into the methodological basis with its process staging and development trend analyses and the operational theories based on the cause-and-effect relations in the relevant research disciplines including the theory of physical culture and sports, economy, sociology and political science.

Study results and discussion. In our consideration of the GTO Complex development genesis we would provisionally break it down into a few development stages with an emphasis on the reasons for its versatile influences on the national industrial and military potential reproduction process. It should be noted that even at its initial stage (1918-1940), the GTO Complex design logic assumed it as a national mobilization project with the relevant logical succession of the youth patriotic education missions to make the youth fit for the productive labour and defence of the country.

It was the Decree of the Russian Federation Central Executive Committee “On the Mandatory Military Art Education” (1918) that may be viewed as the ideological and political frame model of the GTO Complex. Furthermore, a decision on the universal mobilization of the country offered by People’s Commissar M.V. Frunze at the First All-Union Meeting of the Military Theory Society (MTS) in 1925 with special provisions for and top priority given to the national physical education.

The second raft of issues under the Project is conceptually related to the institutional provisions for the latter. Pursuant to the Project logic, an OSOAVIAKhIM (Defence, Aviation and Chemical Industry Support Society) institution was established in 1928 and it effectively helped more than 2 million people timely master a variety of military specialities of high demand by the national Army and Navy – including the specialities of radio operator, telegrapher, parachutist, motorist, paramedic, pilot etc. In this process, the GTO Complex tests as developed by the All-Union Physical Culture Council (1931) effectively played a key role as the education progress rating tool. It was the Great Patriotic War that soon proved the state paternalism efficiency in the GTO Complex being applied to mobilize the young people for the education process, develop the production resources and improve the defence potential of the nation.

The methodologically higher level of appreciation of the GTO Complex system-forming importance in the post-war period (1945-1960) helped further develop the Complex into a unique social instrument to reproduce the human resource largely undermined by and lost during the war.

It were the theoretically grounded standards for the GTO physical fitness tests that were newly applied as the guiding points for the physical education curricula at the industrial companies and the Armed Forces of the country. The Project development logic at that time was quite clear: by offering a new set of developmental motivations, the government at the same time made necessary adjustments to the patriotic education system and the physical culture sector regulation concepts and thereby indirectly changed the system technological setup. It may be pertinent to note that the regulatory framework proactive redesign logic was intended to improve the operational basics of the sector, clearly define the limits of the governmental control and help implement a variety of innovative institutional and control forms and methods [3].

The second component of the Project methodology subject to the study was its multifunctional format customized for the causal relations with the social production resource development and national health reproduction initiatives. At this stage, it had become clear that it was the multifunctional format of the Complex that helped lure young people to the physical culture practices; effectively combine the personal and communal interests; strengthen family as a social institute; and cut down the morbidity rates. Moreover, the Complex helped every individual integrate into the teamwork and identify himself as a part of the team in particular and society on the whole. It should be noted that the people’s rates of involvement in the GTO tests were generally applied as indicative of the “civilization” degree and the social and economic wellbeing of the communities.

The third component of the Project methodology subject to the study was the correlation of the Complex test standards with the labour efficiency rates. The national transition to a new economic setup in 1970-80ies and the new information technology development phase was associated with the sagging role of the physical labour and physical fitness in the army, and these new trends required the relevant GTO standards being revised [3].

The Complex improvement ideology may be interpreted as the dynamically growing recursive innovation progress, with the relevant progress indicators being dominated by the endogeneity, permanence and structuring criteria. The standard codes of the Complex related to the goals-setting in the physical education process evolved to the links connecting an individual with the social environment. The idea of the conceptual approach at this stage was apparently geared to improve the physical education and sport service quality. The productive forces formed along these guidelines were applied as a human capital, i.e. the totality of socially important individual qualities (including health assets, knowledge, skills, abilities and motivations) heavily contributing to the labour efficiency. It was this generalizing continuity trend of the Complex that determined the updated values- and motivations-centred and activity-encouragement components of the GTO Complex.

In the crisis 1990ies, the breakdown of the Soviet physical education system naturally resulted in the GTO Complex achievements and social functions being largely lost. Moreover, the Complex was ostracized by the national mass media organizations. Discussions of the opposing parties with their arguments and counterarguments helped the society understand the scale and ideological criticality of the problem. The market-values proponents in the discussions argued that the reproduction resources were drained and portrayed the Complex as the restraining factor for the national development process. The GTO proponents, in their turn, defended the values of teamwork, systemic design and accessibility of the Complex and made an emphasis on the risks of the Complex being lost as a system-forming developmental factor followed by the inevitable destruction of the human resource of the nation.

The actual practice demonstrated that the American models were poorly if at all fit for implementation in Russian physical culture. As reported by the latest (as of 2016) All-Russian Public Opinion Survey Centre (VTSIOM) report, 75% of the residents of the Russian Federation are reluctant to go in for physical culture practices for a variety of reasons including unwillingness, time shortage and non-accessibility/ non-affordability of the physical culture and sport services. Furthermore, the reports show the social motor activity being on the fall and the morbidity rates and endemic losses being on the rise. The young people’s dominating lifestyles are reported to give little if any priority to the creative and constructive forms of physical activity. Only 68.7% of the conscripts are reported being physically fit for the active military service, and only 45% of the respondents report being prepared to pass the GTO tests, and these negative trends need to be duly taken into account in the Complex rebranding process.

It may be pertinent to mention that the GTO Complex rebranding initiatives and prospects are being covered in a highly optimistic manner by the national mass media. Methodologically, these ideas are driven by the best humanistic ideals and general human values. The key issue in the process is to clarify the limits for the Complex being employed as the base mechanism of the human resource capitalization and human potential protection initiatives. It will give the means to consider the GTO Complex on a wider background – as an existential human potential development tool to ensure harmony of nature, semiotics and technologies and thereby give a new quality to the Complex itself.

It is obvious that on the way to fulfilment of the mission the government regulatory functions need to be expanded in the cause-and-effect models of the physical culture and sports sector development. On the one hand, the governmental agencies must launch large-scale initiatives to implement the Complex and thereby increase the sector contribution to the national economic progress. On the other hand, the initiatives must facilitate the sector being adapted to the modern economic conditions with the relevant social challenges being duly addressed. Therefore, the GTO Complex as a social institution is to perform target control missions in the physical development problem diagnostics and physical fitness tests of different social groups. The test data and indices are to be duly taken into account in the project designs to involve people in physical cultural practices and sports on a systemic basis. The GTO historic succession ensuring actions are to be supported by a due technological component including the relevant diagnostic, coordinative, informative and corrective capacities [5].

The first steps on the way have demonstrated that a success of the Complex rebranding efforts depends on a variety of factors, including the degree of public demand for the healthy lifestyles; accessibility and affordability of the sport infrastructure and equipment; system staffing with skilled personnel; the GTO test standards being included in the accreditation systems applied by the education establishments, etc.

It is beyond doubt that a good progress of the physical culture and sport sector modernization Project is achievable conditional on due coordination of efforts of the relevant ministries, federal agencies and services of the Russian Federation under the leadership of the Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Health and the Federal Service for Supervision of the Consumer Rights and Human Wellbeing Protection (Rospotrebnadzor). The state paternalism secured by the relevant government policies including the GTO Complex rebranding initiative is to be supported by the relevant systemic legislative, executive and control measures to ensure the policy objectives being attained. The standards-based regulation, eligible financing and practical support of the management functions must be designed to secure the consistent policies being pursued for the sector progress.

Conclusion. The GTO Complex rebranding initiative gives a top priority to the human potential mobilization and capitalization strategy. The study findings give reasons to believe that the Project will help: develop the national physical culture and sports sector on an innovative basis; concentrate the governmental efforts on the young people’s patriotic culture promotion goals; generate healthy lifestyle promotion patterns; and disseminate the good experience in succession of the public physical education traditions.

Therefore, the actively growing movement to support the GTO Complex renaissance and rebranding initiative may be viewed as the most promising avenue for the mass physical culture and sports progress in the Russian Federation.


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The article explores the idea of the Russian Physical Culture and Sport “Ready for Labour and Defence” (GTO) Complex renaissance and rebranding and offers for consideration a frame concept of the state paternalism in the GTO Complex renaissance initiative in the context of the social productive potential development, public health improvement and the national defence strengthening efforts. The proposed approach to the theoretical substantiation of the new process governance methodology supported by the GTO Complex gives a top priority to the following fundamental components: irreversible innovation development trend of the national physical culture and sport sector; and the activity coordination in the system of the federal and provincial executive government agencies of the Russian Federation.