[CfP] Conference 2016 – Neoliberalism Working Group – Panel on Industrial Policy

IIPPE 7th International Conference in Political Economy
‘Political Economy: International Trends and National Differences’
School of Economics & Management, University of Lisbon, Portugal
September 7-9, 2016

Call for Papers: Neoliberalism Working Group – Panel on Industrial Policy

‘Industrial Policy: International Practices and the Rhetoric of Neoliberalism’

In many countries “industrial policy” has been banned for several decades from the public debate. For many years it has been labelled as an anachronistic, inefficient and ineffective practice. These were years of anti-government consensus: government was declared “the problem” and not “the solution” and with these premises industrial policy was considered undesirable.

These positions have been supported by an intransigent rhetoric inspired by mainstream Economics basically hostile to any kind of government intervention. Market failures have been recognised as possible and their correction has been deemed the only acceptable rationale for government intervention, greatly limiting the industrial policy domain. At any rate, a powerful “government failure” literature has mainly focussed on inefficiencies, costs and risks associated to industrial policy practices. In this influential perspective government failure costs have been considered by definition very high, suggesting that the failures of the market should have been considered definitively better than the costs associated to government industrial policies.

This rhetoric has resisted for a long while. It has been very influential in determining policy outcomes, especially in developing countries and in the so-called peripheral economies, for example in Southern and Eastern Europe. The same rhetoric, paradoxically, has been also used to cover industrial policy practices, which have been painted as “exceptions” in some of the most neoliberal governments, such as the United States.

The wake of the economic crisis has changed the picture. Everywhere there was a dramatic need for actions in the real economy: industrial policies able to stimulate desired (industrial, economic and social) changes were immediately demanded in rich, emerging and poor countries. In the US and in the strongest European industrialised economies governments decided to intervene with industrial policy plans. Policies with very ambitious goals: stimulate the whole economy, protect domestic industry, sustain national employment, drive structural adjustment, promote competitiveness and innovation. The same happened in China, Japan, South Korea and in the other new industrial powers.

However, the features of what has been described as “Industrial Policy Renaissance” are by no means clear. Governments very often have not abandoned their established anti-government rhetoric that today is even fostered by popular austerity arguments. At the same time they have decided to act implementing national industrial policy strategies, but the foundations of this neo-interventionism are nebulous. Indeed, in this contradictory scenario, Industrial Policy is not back in the political debate because of new theoretical development in Economics, Business Studies, or Social Sciences. Industrial policy practices in North America or Europe are back on governments agenda because of the Crisis and because the growing challenges coming from the new emerging industrial powers.

Is this instinctive “Renaissance” free from risk? What are the goals of industrial policy in this new setting? Can industrial policy be driven by new and ambitious societal goals? What are the new policy tools able to answer to ancient and unsolved government failures? Should political economy strive to build a strong argument in favour of industrial policy?

These are the main questions that the Track on Industrial Policy and Neoliberal Rhetoric wishes to address. Contributions are particularly welcome in, but not limited to, the following subjects:

  • industrial policy: theories vs practices;
  • the rhetoric of neoliberalism on industrial policy;
  • the political economy of industrial policy;
  • industrial policy practices in different countries and regions;
  • tools and methodologies to improve industrial policy practices;

Papers can be of a theoretical, empirical or methodological nature. We are interested in national, supranational, or regional case studies. International comparative analyses are also very welcome. Contributions from a variety of disciplines – such as political economy, economics, business, management, sociology, economic history, economic geography, public policy – are warmly encouraged. Authors should attempt to discuss the policy implications of the analysis.

Abstracts (500 words maximum) should be submitted by April 1, 2016. To submit your abstract, please go to the Electronic Proposal Form and carefully follow the instructions there. (All deadlines are listed at the link.) Please include ‘Neoliberalism Working Group’ in your submission.

For more general information about IIPPE, the working groups and the conference, please visit our website.

For details on the panel, you can contact: Marco R. DI TOMMASO (dtmmrc@unife.it);

Elisa BARBIERI (elisa.barbieri@uniud.it); Mattia TASSINARI (tssmtt@unife.it).


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