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
The paper by SPACE researchers Carina Altreiter, Susanna Azevedo, Laura Porak, Stephan Pühringer and Georg Wolfmayr deals with urban competition and entrepreneurial urban policies in the last decades. Coming from the evolving field of competition research, they are interested in how urban competition is constructed and, for this purpose, examine the competition imaginary of Vienna, a city known less for its entrepreneurial policies than for its social welfare policies. The paper employs critical discourse analysis of Viennese policy papers from 1985-2015, a period particularly shaped by the process of competitization. The analysis shows that Vienna’s social and welfare policies are also decisive for the city’s positioning in urban competition and rankings.
In this paper, SPACE researcher Matthias Aistleitner responses to recent evidence from citation analysis [Mitra, S., Palmer, M, Vuon, V. (2020). Development and interdisciplinarity: A citation analysis. World Development, 135, 105076; hereafter MPV] that shows that development as a field of study hardly interacts with other disciplines – except mainstream economics. Matthias Aistleitner applies an alternative approach in identifying the disciplinary and paradigmatic background of development scholars by matching bibliometric data on articles published in World Development with the RePEc author database. The results from this analysis suggest a quite different picture regarding the share of economists that publish in the field’s flagship journal: in contrast to MPV, Aistleitner reports a significantly higher share of scholars with an economics research background. Considering these findings, the paper further explores non-trivial differences of the “economics silo” (i.e. economists that publish research related to development) in World Development vis-à-vis research by scholars from other social science disciplines via extensive citation analysis.
In this paper, SPACE researchers Carina Altreiter, Raphaela Kohout, Sarah Kumnig, Katharina Litschauer and Georg Wolfmayr deal with non-profit property developers in Vienna’s housing market. The exorbitant rise in land and building costs in recent years, as well as increasing demand for affordable housing, have far-reaching implications for the provision of affordable housing in Vienna. These developments not only lead to shifts in the market in general, but also within the non-profit sector. The paper approaches these shifts at the level of non-profit enterprises and examines a) which interpretations of affordability and related challenges can be found in the field of non-profit housing, and b) which practices are applied in the provision of (affordable) housing. Empirically, the article is based on guided interviews with board members, managing directors and project developers from the non-profit housing sector, which were conducted between 2020 and 2021. Finally, implications for the non-profit sector in Vienna and for the provision of (affordable) housing are discussed.
In this paper, SPACE researchers Theresa Hager and Johanna Rath collaborate with Ines Heck (University Greenwich). The authors examine parallels and differences, intersections and complementarities in the notions of societal transition by Karl Polanyi and Joseph A. Schumpeter. Considering their intellectual heritage, methodology and scope, we propose a three-sphere framework to analyse their theories and study the interdependencies within capitalism. The three spheres essential to both thinkers are the political, the socio-cultural and the economic: the latter dominates the others in capitalist societies. The resulting rationalisation (Schumpeter) and commodification (Polanyi) distort the socio-cultural sphere and transcend towards the political sphere which undermines democracy. Applying the framework, the authors identify similar transitional mechanisms but derive different implications for society.
In this paper, SPACE researchers Claudius Gräbner-Radkowitsch and Theresa Hager collaborate with Anna Hornykewycz (ICAE, JKU Linz) to explore whether the EU’s new economic development model of ‘competitive sustainability’ could serve as a role model for ecologically sustainable development models for advanced economies in general. To this end, they first discuss theoretically the interplay between ‘competitiveness’ and ‘sustainability’ and identify several challenges for combining them. In delineating different interpretations of competitive sustainability, they emphasize that operationalizing the concept requires deliberate design of the institutions governing competition so that it can contribute to sustainability. They substantiate their claim by using input-output data to analyze whether the identified challenges are indeed relevant. They conclude that they are, and finally propose possible solutions.