This book is about the significance of the nation-state in an internationalised economy. Although each contribution has its own purpose and focus, many of the chapters draw on Denmark and Ireland as empirical cases. Prior to the outbreak of the international financial and economic crisis in 2008, Denmark and Ireland were generally seen as two small European states which had adapted successfully to economic globalisation. As experts point out in this book, they did so on the basis of each their own strategies and institutions: Denmark as an example of a ‘coordinated market economy’ and Ireland as a ‘liberal market economy’ (cf. Hall and Soskice 2001).
There is a history behind the book’s comparative approach. After having been involved in Irish and political studies for many years, I came to the conclusion in 2006 that a comparative study of the economic development of Denmark and Ireland would offer general insights into the ‘differentiated globalisation’ of nation-states, i.e. how national institutions mediate external economic pressures (cf. Campbell 2004). Hence, I decided to organise a conference with the purpose of exploring this theme. The conference was held at Aarhus University in November 2007 under the title ‘The Knowledge-Based Economy, Identities and the Transforming State’. Invitations were sent to international academics, but also to policy makers and civil servants in Denmark and Ireland in order to open up for an unconventional exchange of ideas and analyses. The conference was to be the first of a series of international ‘MatchPoints Conferences’ at Aarhus University, and has now resulted in the publication of the present book.
The book consists of a selection of papers from the conference combined with a number of solicited manuscripts. During the process of writing and editing, both Denmark and Ireland were hit by the worldwide financial and economic crisis, Ireland more so than Denmark. This meant that manuscripts have had to be adjusted, revised or, in a few cases, even completely re-written. However, as editor, I am thankful that the book did not come out prior to the crisis, of course, since the crisis has allowed us the opportunity to make a form of status assessment of what economic globalisation meant prior to the break-down of the ideology and the largely deregulated financial system which had fuelled it.
In more personal terms, I want to express my thanks to the strong moral and economic support I have received all along from the Rector of Aarhus University . . .