Capitalism from Outside? Economic Cultures in Eastern Europe after 1989

By János Mátyás Kovács; Violetta Zentai | Go to book overview

Have Polish Economists Noticed New
Institutionalism?

Jacek Kochanowicz


Introduction

Institutional economics has risen in parallel with the decay of state socialism and the beginnings of the post-communist reform process. At first, an institutional approach appears highly relevant to the challenges the societies have faced emerging from state socialism, as it offers a perspective that allows an analysis of what was wrong with the old regime in terms of its economic performance and what might have been done to make its performance better. Surely, institutional economics and especially its new versions should have been welcomed in post-communist countries, as the fall of state socialism brought about the challenge of institutional reconstruction.

But has institutional economics flourished in post-communist Poland? So far this does not seem to be the case since the number of related works are limited in comparison with the overall amount of academic works published in the field of economics in Poland. By no means has this approach been institutionalized in the form of journals, research projects, or teaching programs.

How can this be? We shall try to answer this question by looking at the legacies and context of economic thought in Poland, at the character of institutionalism before and after the collapse of state socialism, and at the role of its new versions in the transformation. The thesis of this case study is twofold. First, it argues that a possible development of new institutional economics has been crowded out by the neoclassical/neoliberal approach, adopted for both intellectual and ideological reasons. Second, the relatively weak presence of new institutionalism in publications of academic character does not mean that it has not been present in other forms, as an institutional way of thinking showed itself in the practice of reforms.

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