In this working paper Matthias Aistleitner and Stephan Pühringer analyze more than 400 trade-related research articles published in high-impact economic journals to highlight three core trade narratives constituting the elite economists trade discourse: “free trade cheerleading”, “Ignorance in a world full of nails”, and, “success breeds exporting breeds success”. They conclude that the narrow perspective in economic elite debates prevents a more comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted challenges related to international integration.
In this working paper Claudius Gräbner and Birte Strunk evaluate three common arguments against pluralism in economics: (1) the claim that economics is already pluralist, (2) the argument that if there was the need for greater plurality, it would emerge on its own, and (3) the assertion that pluralism means ‘anything goes’ and is thus unscientific. They argue that the third argument relates to a greater challenge for pluralism: an epistemological trade-off between diversity and consensus that originates from two main challenges: the need to derive adequate quality criteria for a pluralist economics, and the necessity to propose strategies that ensure the communication across different research programs. These challenges apply to interdisciplinary collaboration more generally.
In this working paper Carina Altreiter, Claudius Gräbner, Stephan Pühringer, Ana Rogojanu and Georg Wolfmayr discuss the concept of competition in different historical and disciplinary contexts. The paper provides an analytical and historical comparison between conceptions of competition from economics, sociology and anthropology. The interdisciplinary review and systematisation show how different conceptions of competition are bound up with different ways to theorize the relation between an “economic realm” and a “social realm”. By focusing on the scope and normative implications of these concepts, the authors aim to develop a better understanding of competization, i.e. the expansion of competitive modes of regulation and practices.
This paper by Carina Altreiter, Claudius Gräbner, Stephan Pühringer, Ana Rogojanu and Georg Wolfmayr introduces a framework to facilitate an interdisciplinary analysis of ‘competition’. While such an interdisciplinary analysis can be justified by referencing the various fields of social and economic life in which ‘competition’ is important, three challenges are found to aggravate such endeavor: first, there are sufficient common elements across different concepts of competition that justify an interdisciplinary approach to study competition; second, apart from differences between disciplines, there are remarkable differences within disciplines that are at least of similar importance. Finally, there are important interdependencies between the meta-theoretical dimensions considered in the framework.
This paper by Stephan Pühringer, Johanna Rath and Teresa Griesebner provides an institutional and empirical analysis of the highly concentrated market of academic publishing, characterized by over-proportionally high profit margins for publishing companies. Open access (OA) publication provides a promising, yet costly solution to overcome this problem. However, in this paper the authors show that OA publication costs are an important, but by far not the only way for academic publishers to gain access to public funding.
In this paper, Stephan Pühringer, Laura Porak and Johanna Rath apply a discourse analytical framework to explore the performativity of the economic concept of competition in public policy discourses. The main economic imaginary ascribes to competition the function of a primary mode for economic and social coordination, ensuring prosperity and wealth. Competitiveness is predominately interpreted not as a means but an end in itself. Furthermore, three partly conflicting discursive positions on how competition should be organized arise in the discourse: (1) the neoliberal position, (2) the ordoliberal position and (3) the Keynesian position.
This paper by Claudius Gräbner and Stephan Pühringer discusses the actual relevance and historical origins or ‘competition universalism’. In economics, competition is conceptualized as a nearly ubiquitous element of societies, or, at least, used to study a wide array of social and political relations, including competition between firms for market shares, between individuals for prestige, countries for resources, athletes for victory, or politicians for influence. Therefore, the paper first explicates the historical genesis of competition universalism, then discusses the extent it has reached today, and concludes with critical remarks and the proposition of an alternative, more particularist approach to study competition.
Laura Porak analysis in this paper the the role of the state and political authorities that has always been highly ambivalent in different strands of neoliberalism. This paper aims to highlight contradictory political stances towards competition and associated modes of governance by analyzing policy discourse of the European Commission. By conducting a Critical Discourse Analysis of the most recent ‘governance structure’ of the EU, ‘Europe 2020’, she found that competition is naturalized as mode of economic organization. The main contribution of this paper is the reconstruction of two ‘economic imaginaries’. First, the European Commission as political sovereign and second, as an actor in the (world) market.
This paper by Carina Altreiter and Katharina Litschauer analysis strategies of capital accumulation in times of land scarcity. The social housing market in Vienna is known for its large, decommodified housing stock and therefore has been subject to extensive research. However, current approaches lack a nuanced account of the main producers of social housing today, namely limited-profit housing associations. Following Bourdieu, this paper applies a field perspective to grasp the configuration and distribution of differ- ent capital forms within the social housing market. It explores how field positions influence possibilities for acquiring building plots, something that has become increasingly difficult in recent years due to rising market prices and increasing competition for land distributed by the municipality of Vienna via ‘developer competition’ proceedings.
In this paper Claudius Gräbner-Radkowitsch and Theresa Hager study the conceptualization and quantification of `competitiveness’ within the European Semester. This topic warrants attention since `competitiveness’ is not only of central importance in the European policy discourse, but also a theoretically ambiguous and malleable concept, which is subject to considerable academic and political debate. By investigating the translation of competition as a contested theoretical concept into concrete indicators within a legally binding document, the paper produces three main insights that deserve further attention, both scientifically and politically. First, the indicators of the semester mainly measure cost rather than technological competitiveness, indicating a constriction of the concept at the operational level.Second, while EU policy documents regularly stress the competitiveness of the European Union as a whole, the indicators in the semester measure
individual country competitiveness.
This paper by Jakob Kapeller and Claudius Gräbner-Radkowitsch illustrates a theoretical argumentation about the characteristics of past and current globalisation processes using the example of the (former) MAN production side Steyr. General dynamics of increasing concentration in property and labour division and their social consequences are mapped on a concrete example. The authors furthermore discuss relevant aspects for the political discussion on global location competition and conclude that institutional embedding of globalisation oriented towards the common good is necessary, but can only succeed if political measures at local and international level are designed in a complementary way.
In this chapter, Claudius Gräbner-Radkowitsch delineates an evolutionary approach to the comparative analysis of economic systems and illustrates its usefulness via an exemplary application to recent developments in the European Union. The first part of the chapter describes the meta-theoretical foundations of the approach, i.e. its particular ontological and epistemological vantage points. This allows for an easier comparison (and, potentially, triangulation) with other approaches to comparative analyses, and already provides for some practical guidelines for applied work. The second part applies the approach and studies polarization patterns in the European Union. While this application is not meant as a fully self-contained analysis, it not only illustrates how the concepts of the approach can be operationalized and applied in practice, but also the application of several empirical methods that can be used fruitfully within such an evolutionary analysis. The chapter concludes with a non-exhaustive list of concepts and topics that are particularly insightful to consider when conducting an analysis in the spirit of an evolutionary approach to the comparative analysis of economic system