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Globalisation and Models of State: Debates and Evidence from Ireland

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This article reviews the role of the state in Ireland's adaptation to globalisation and reflects on the changing nature of the Irish state in the context of global and EU pressures. It examines two competing literatures about conceptions of the Irish state, one which argues Ireland is a model of successful development or flexible develpomental state, and the other arguing Ireland, as a competition state, prioritises economic competitiveness over social cohesion and welfare. The article empirically examines the structural direction of policy change and shifts in power and policy processes. Both developmental and competition logics are found, these are sometimes complementary and other times opposing logics. The developmental role of the Irish state has been uneven across policy areas, being most evident in policies that enable foreign capital thrive and profit and least evident in supporting indigenous industry and social inclusion. While there have been temporal shifts in developmental and competition logics, examination of recent policy responses to recession and economic crisis suggests the primary logic informing Irish development is the competition logic.
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Globalisation and Models of State:
Debates and Evidence from Ireland
Peadar Kirby
a
& Mary Murphy
b
a
Department of Politics and Public Administration , University of
Limerick (UL) , Ireland E-mail:
b
Department of Sociology , National University of Ireland
Maynooth (NUIM) , Ireland E-mail:
Published online: 04 Nov 2010.
To cite this article: Peadar Kirby & Mary Murphy (2011) Globalisation and Models of State: Debates
and Evidence from Ireland, New Political Economy, 16:1, 19-39, DOI: 10.1080/13563461003789795
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13563461003789795
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Globalisation and Models of State:
Debates and Evidence from Ireland
PEADAR KIRBY & MARY MURPHY
This article reviews the role of the state in Ireland’s adaptation to globalisation and
reflects on the changing nature of the Irish state in the context of global and EU
pressures. It examines two competing literatures about conceptions of the Irish
state, one which argues Ireland is a model of successful development or flexible
develpomental state, and the other arguing Ireland, as a competition state, prior-
itises economic competitiveness over social cohesion and welfare. The article
empirically examines the structural direction of policy change and shifts in
power and policy processes. Both developmental and competition logics are
found, these are sometimes complementary and other times opposing logics.
The developmental role of the Irish state has been uneven across policy areas,
being most evident in policies that enable foreign capital thrive and profit and
least evident in supporting indigenous industry and social inclusion. While
there have been temporal shifts in developmental and competition logics, examin-
ation of recent policy responses to recession and economic crisis suggests the
primary logic informing Irish development is the competition logic.
Keywords: Competition State, Ireland, Flexible Development State, Celtic Tiger,
globalisation, Irish State, Neoliberal State
Introduction
Ireland’s economic boom from 1994 to 2000 (widely labelled the ‘Celtic Tiger’)
has been interpreted by analysts as indicating the country’s success in benefiting
from the opportunities offered by globalisation (Sweeney 2003; Barry 2005).
While an initial reading emphasised that economic transformation had been
achieved through market liberalisation (Barry 1999; Sweeney 1999; Clinch,
Convery and Walsh 2002), this was soon contested by literature that focused
more on the crucial role played by the state. Scholars at the influential Economic
and Social Research Institute (ESRI) argued that ‘there was a great deal more to
New Political Economy, Vol. 16, No. 1, February 2011
Peadar Kirby, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick (UL),
Ireland. E-mail: peader.kirby@ul.ie
Mary Murphy, Department of Sociology, National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM), Ireland.
E-mail: mary.p.murphy@nuim.ie
ISSN 1356-3467 print; ISSN 1469-9923 online/11/010019-21 # 2011 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/13563461003789795
New Political Economy, Vol. 16, No. 1, February 2011
Downloaded by [National University of Ireland Maynooth] at 00:40 06 November 2013
Ireland’s success than liberalization of markets. The state has been deeply impli-
cated in the entire process, managing both economic development and the welfare
state’ (Nolan, O’Connell and Whelan 2000: 3). Examining in more detail the role
played by the Irish state, Sean O
´
Riain characterised it as a ‘flexible developmen-
tal state’, arguing that this constitutes a new model of state-led development more
responsive to the demands and pressures of globalisation (O
´
Riain 2000, 2004).
Peadar Kirby introduced the concept of competition state to the Irish literature,
arguing that it describes more accurately the nature and operation of the Irish
state in the era of the Celtic Tiger since it prioritises goals of economic competi-
tiveness over those of social cohesion and welfare (Kirby 2002; 2005). Following
Kirby, Fiona Dukelow, Nigel Boyle and others have also adopted the concept of
the competition state to categorise the Irish state as it has been reshaped in the
period of the economic boom (Dukelow 2004; Boyle 2005; Murphy 2006).
These debates on the role of the state in Ireland’s adaptation to globalisation
echo and draw upon wider debates on how the state is changing under the
impact of global market pressures (Bisley 2000; Cerny 2000; Jessop 2002; Hay,
Lester and Marsh 2006; Weiss 1998). Yet, these debates have also been faulted
for being conducted at too generalised and abstract a level, lacking a base in
empirical study. Colin Hay has written that ‘the ethereal realms of abstraction
at which the analysis is for the most part conducted are not densely populated
with clearly identifiable actors, strategic or otherwise’ (Hay 2004: 47).
Nicola Phillips echoes and advances this critique, identifying economism
(namely a concentration on state economic policy and strategies) and a function-
alist bias (namely understanding the form of state as an outcome of its adaptation
to the challenges of economic globalisation) as characterising these approaches.
This bias, according to Phillips, results in a ‘generalized failure to consider or
advance clear understandings of the processes by which outcomes are produced’
so that politics, in the sense of ‘variation, contingency and specificity in the insti-
tutional structures of states, the nature of state strategies and the types of state-
society linkages that prevail in particular political economies’ is largely
missing (Phillips 2005: 82115).
1
This article seeks to address these weaknesses through surveying the recent pol-
itical economy debates on the nature and functioning of the Irish state, in particu-
lar on characterising it as either a form of developmental state (DS) or as a
competition state (CS).
2
This article begins by defining the two terms as they
are used in the literature on the Irish case, discussing the differences between
them and relating them to the wider context of globalisation. The following
section surveys this literature in order to clarify what claims are being made
about how the Irish state has changed and through what agency, focusing particu-
larly on the concepts of DS or CS. The literature review will demonstrate how both
the DS and the CS capture different elements of the state’s economic and social
role in recent years so that both concepts help explain aspects of the Irish state.
That both aspects co-exist in a state is a plausible and likely conclusion. What
is of interest, however, is how developmentalist and competition state logics
interact with each other or even compete with each other. This is addressed in
the subsequent section. The recent global crisis offers an opportunity to reflect
on two questions: how the different developmental and competition elements of
Peadar Kirby & Mary Murphy
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the state contributed to the current crisis in Ireland; and whether the response to
the crisis makes it more likely that the more developmental or more competition-
like elements will be reinforced or retrenched in response to the current economic
difficulties. These questions are addressed in the final section. The article
concludes that, while the DS and the CS capture different elements of the
state’s economic and social role, ultimately the developmentalist logic appears
to be subservient to the logic of competition and that the current crisis, far from
being a critical juncture, seems to be reinforcing and embedding Ireland as a
competition state.
Developmental state or competition state?
Understanding the institutional underpinnings of the Celtic Tiger has given rise to
two competing conceptions of the state. Is the contemporary Irish state a new type
of developmental state, thereby holding lessons of successful development for
many other states, or is it a competition state, an exemplar of how globalisation
resituates the state so that it prioritises the needs of global capital over those of
its own citizens? And what is the relationship between these types of state and
the wider processes of globalisation and/or Europeanisation that are invoked in
the literature on Ireland as at least contextual and perhaps even causal variables
for state change? This section intends to clarify what is meant by the concepts
of DS and CS and to discuss how globalisation/Europeanisation is invoked in
the literature.
Developmental state (DS)
Characterising of the Irish state as developmental takes as its starting point the
literature that developed in the 1980s out of analyses of the role of the East Asian
state in that region’s developmental success and which elaborated the concept of
the ‘developmental state’ (Johnson 1982; Woo-Cumings 1999; Wade 1990;
Amsden 1989). In applying the concept of ‘embedded autonomy’ taken from
Peter Evans (1995) to the Irish state, O
´
Riain characterised the Irish state as a
‘flexible developmental state’ in contrast to the bureaucratic developmental
states of East Asia (O
´
Riain 2004). His later work slightly amended the concept
to that of a Developmental Network State (DNS) as ‘network centrality is critical
to this new state isolation from the local or the global renders it ineffective’
(ibid: 4).
O
´
Riain’s starting point is that ‘states and other institutions of governance do not
simply “regulate” a system with its own logic but rather constantly structure and
restructure capitalist social relations, even as they are constrained by them’. Fur-
thermore, ‘forms of state developmentalism vary enormously across time and
space in their developmental strategies and tactics, institutional and geopolitical
foundations, social consequences, and the ensuing political possibilities’ (ibid:
15). Since, as he writes, ‘the developmental state is likely to emerge in different
guises under varying sociopolitical conditions at different times and places’,
he identifies such examples as the Northern European social democracies, the
temporary success of dependent development in Brazil, the East Asian miracle
Globalisation and Models of State
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and ‘the emergence of fast-growing economies such as Israel, Ireland and even
Taiwan in the 1990s’ as examples of ‘different types of developmental states’
(ibid: 19).
3
In essence, he defines the developmental state as a state that fulfills
the following: ‘forging a collective strategy for development despite inequalities
and hierarchy in the international economy, building institutions to pursue that
strategy, and fostering self-reproducing autocentric development through
shaping the relationship between the developmentalist coalition and the national
and world-system structures within which it is embedded’ (ibid: 20). For
O
´
Riain, this can take the form of bureaucratic or network-state developmentalism.
If, in the past, developmental states relied heavily on state intervention in their
attempts to industrialise, in the contemporary era they can achieve their goals
‘not by taking on the tasks of development but rather by shaping the capabilities
of society and the market to do so’ (ibid: 23).
O
´
Riain’s definition of the developmental state is therefore multifaceted and
complex. It goes beyond Theda Skocpol’s definition of state capacity as the
ability of the state to pursue and/or implement official goals (Skocpol 1985: 9).
Such an understanding of capacity, namely the creation of institutions to make
social transformation possible, forms only one part of O
´
Riain’s definition.
Prior to the creation of institutions, the state must reshape the private self-interests
of actors with resources so that they become part of a wider collective interest in
national development. Furthermore, the institutions fashioned to promote this
wider collective interest must be safeguarded against becoming beholden to
private interests in society this is where O
´
Riain adopts Evans’s notion of
embedded autonomy. Once achieved, these institutions serving a national devel-
opmental project are just the first step to ensuring a dynamic of autocentric devel-
opment; the latter requires the reproduction of a sociopolitical coalition supporting
development, a self-reinforcing dynamic or ‘feedback loop’ between the develop-
ment of productive forces and such factors as the broad development of skills
and learning capacity, and wider processes of autonomous political, social and
cultural development. The agility of the state in the face of constant change in
the international system so that it can maintain its successful insertion is a final
dimension of the developmental state. This conceptualisation of the state therefore
embodies three different dimensions the state’s institutional capacity, the state’s
relationship to society and the various organised interest groups within it, and the
state’s relationship to the wider international context outside its national arena.
All of these need to be dynamically managed and developed if developmental
transformation is to result.
The concept of the developmental state has been taken up more in policy dis-
course than in the academic literature on the Irish state. This is most marked in the
concept of the developmental welfare state adopted by the National Economic and
Social Council (NESC) in its 2003 tri-annual statement of the state’s economic
and social strategy and used as the basis for elaborating a Developmental
Welfare State (DWS) for Ireland (NESC 2003, 2005). This uses the concept of
the developmental state as a label for a new kind of welfare system ‘tax and
welfare transfers, the provision of services and activist initiatives’ (NESC 2005:
iv). Though not elaborated in the documents proposing it, this contains echoes
of O
´
Riain’s concept in that it refers to the state’s institutional capacity, its
Peadar Kirby & Mary Murphy
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relationship to civil society, and the ways in which the welfare system is seen to
reinforce the wider economy’s competitive success.
Competition state (CS)
The competition state concept emerged from analysing the ways in which devel-
oped industrial states were restructuring themselves in response to the constraints
and opportunities opened up by neoliberal globalisation in the 1990s. While
initially under pressure from internal causes such as recession and the fiscal press-
ures on welfare spending, by the 1980s and 1990s, welfare states were also under
pressure from outside factors such as international competitiveness, the mobility
of capital worldwide and intensified international trade (Pierson 2004:1002).
A central cause of these pressures has been the impact of new information and
communications technologies (ICTs). These have made possible both the more
intense and immediate global interconnectedness that drives finance, production
and trade and also new forms of corporate organisation that have come to domi-
nate more and more key production chains worldwide, thereby strengthening the
power of global market forces as against that of national state authorities. As John
Gerard Ruggie has recognised, the globalisation of financial markets and pro-
duction chains challenged the premises on which the grand bargain between
capital and labour rested since that bargain presupposed a world in which the
state could effectively mediate external impacts through such tools as tariffs
and exchange rates (Ruggie 2003: 94). In this situation, welfare states have not
collapsed but they are under pressure to reduce costs and erode the level and
extent of protection they previously provided (Mishra 1999; Scharpf 2000).
This global context, therefore, has created new pressures to which all states
have to respond. It is out of analysing the ways in which states are responding
that the concept of the competition state emerged.
Various attempts have been made to characterise the new regime that is emer-
ging as a successor to the Keynesian welfare state. Bob Jessop sees this ‘new state
form’ as a Schumpeterian workfare state (SWS) which seeks ‘to strengthen as far
as possible the structural competitiveness of the national economy by intervening
on the supply-side; and to subordinate social policy to the needs of labour market
flexibility and/or to the constraints of international competition’, while Galbraith
coined the term the predator state (Jessop 1994; Galbraith 2008). In his work,
Philip G. Cerny et al. describe the emergence of a ‘competition state’ out of the
tensions between the demands of economic globalisation and the embedded
state/society practices that characterised the national welfare state as the priorities
of policy move away from the general maximisation of public welfare (full
employment, redistributive transfer payments and social service provision) to
the promotion of enterprise, innovation and profitability in both private and
public sectors (Cerny, Menz and Soederberg 2005: 19). These reactions,
however, follow no set pattern or master plan: ‘The emerging embedded neolib-
eral consensus is therefore not simply a developing “from outside” or “from
above”; it is also a political construction promoted by political entrepreneurs
who must design projects, convince others, build coalitions and ultimately win
some sort of political legitimacy “from inside” and “from below”.’ (ibid: 19).
Globalisation and Models of State
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Tracing this process as they see it happening in western European states and the
European Union (EU) itself, North America and New Zealand, Latin America and
eastern European countries, Cerny et al. identify a process that is ‘almost without
exception elite-driven ... based on sustained support from converted academics,
policy advisers and consultants both within and outside the public sector, govern-
ment officials, and firms and other economic actors, especially representatives
of employers and business organisations, and, especially consumers and many
taxpayers’ (ibid: 223).
What can be observed, therefore, ‘is not so much the continuity or maintenance
of older “varieties of capitalism”, but rather the emergence of varieties of neoli-
beralism of diversity within convergence, of the forging of different “roads to
globalisation” ... States are increasingly becoming “competition states”’ (ibid:
212).
4
This belies any easy claim that the state is retreating or that its role is mar-
ginalised in the political economy of today’s globalised world order. Rather, what
is happening is the redefinition of its core activities as it adapts to the new global
environment in which it operates. This helps make sense of what otherwise may
seem a contradiction between the state’s ever weakening ability to secure the
welfare of its citizens while, on the other hand, it becomes ever more intrusive
in the life of the national economy such as, for example, through a myriad of
new regulatory agencies. As Cerny et al. point out: ‘Deregulation was never
really deregulation; it increasingly became the replacement of outcome-orientated
and discretionary interventionism with new market friendly regulations a form
of pro-market re-regulation. Indeed, in many cases the new regulations were more
complex and onerous than the old type’ (ibid: 11 8).
5
In other work, Cerny and
Mark Evans have argued that the policy agenda of the New Labour governments
in the UK ‘in its most crucial aspects reflects the continuing transformation of
the British industrial welfare state into a competition state’ (Cerny and Evans
2004: 51).
These two conceptions of the state therefore have some common features but
differ in a number of crucial ways. Perhaps most significantly, both agree that
the state can make a difference though, perhaps echoing their different origins,
the competition state concept recognises more fully the constraints placed on
state actions by the competitive pressures of today’s globalisation. Both acknowl-
edge the uneven nature of state actions, though both also claim that a central over-
arching logic can be identified behind this unevenness. It is the nature of this
overarching logic that constitutes the key difference as developmental state theor-
ists claim that such states possess the capacity to achieve outcomes that fundamen-
tally transform the economy and society towards higher levels of development.
Competition state theorists, on the other hand, identify a logic that moves state
actions away from the maximisation of welfare towards the promotion of enter-
prise and profitability as national elites respond to the pressures of globalisation.
Theorists of both concepts recognise that both developmental and competition
states do not conform to uniform models but reflect the internal political configur-
ations and culture through which the overarching logic of developmentalism or
competition is mediated, though it must be said that both literatures have paid
insufficient attention to the politics through which these logics emerge and
come to dominance.
Peadar Kirby & Mary Murphy
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Where there is less clarity about the differences between both concepts con-
cerns the possibilities for more progressive forms of both types of state. Cerny
et al. recognise that neoliberal public policies ‘do not merely constrain but also
bring opportunities. Contemporary politics entails both a process of choosing
between different versions of neoliberalism and the attempt to innovate creatively
within the new neoliberal playing field’ (Cerny, Menz and Soederberg 2005: 20).
6
One expression of these possibilities is the emergence of a social neoliberalism
(ibid: 201). O
´
Riain criticises the competition state concept as it ignores ‘the
many political possibilities that the institutions of economic development
present for future transformation’ (O
´
Riain 2004). What here distinguishes propo-
nents of each of the concepts is the potential for transformation that exists. For, as
made clear above, competition state theorists also recognise that politics matters
and that it results in different outcomes in different states ‘different versions
of neoliberalism’. O
´
Riain goes further in claiming that spaces exist for going
beyond neoliberalism to social democracy and his book ends by outlining what
this might entail (ibid: 23742). Here again what is at issue is more empirical
than theoretical. Cerny et al. outline at some length the erosion of the basis for
a social democratic alternative as it is happening in practice in many parts of
the world, whereas O
´
Riain’s account is limited to a purely theoretical outline
of what such an alternative might look like while neglecting the political or
social bases for its emergence. On the contrary, he acknowledges that the Irish
developmental state ‘will face an increasingly contentious politics of national
inequality because unequal integration into the globalisation project undermines
solidaristic national social contracts’; however, he fails to address how it might
overcome these to build a more social democratic alternative (ibid: 38). Therefore,
a lack of clarity lingers as to whether, through progressive political actions, both
the competition and the developmental states could come increasingly to resemble
one another. Indeed, Cerny has equated the East Asian developmental states with
competition states (Cerny 2006: 381). Yet, it does appear that a fundamental
difference still distinguishes Cerny’s social neoliberalism from O
´
Riain’s social
democratic developmentalism, with the latter entailing a much stronger version
of governing or restraining the market, whereas the former is posited on a
benign market to which the state plays a supporting role.
In these accounts of the DS and CS, globalisation plays a crucial role as the
wider context which necessitates that the state take actions to adapt and constrains
the nature of those actions. As Cerny and Evans state baldly: ‘The main challenge
facing governments all over the world is their capacity to adapt to the exogenous
constraints and opportunities brought about by different processes of globalisation
while maintaining a relatively effective domestic policy programme’ (Cerny and
Evans 2004: 58). While the DS literature emerged before the widespread use of the
concept of globalisation, it too was identifying the types of state actions required
to avail successfully of the developmental opportunities opened by a liberal
trading order. Indeed, in O
´
Riain’s work, globalisation plays a more proximate
role as he situates the developmental network state ‘in a role mediating between
the global and the local, connecting them and shaping the nature of their relation-
ship’ (O
´
Riain 2004: 28). Yet, if globalisation provides the context and the chal-
lenge, it is not the cause of state restructuring; this happens through domestic
Globalisation and Models of State
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social and political forces and it is these which help determine the outcomes in
each particular case. Europeanisation, whether as a mediator of globalising press-
ures or as a filter or even a protector against their harsher impacts, plays no direct
role in the conceptual frameworks of either DS or CS theorists, although, as will be
seen in the next section, the role of the EU has been widely credited with playing a
notable role in aspects of the Irish state’s transformation.
Restructuring the Irish state: debates and evidence
A number of scholars have utilised the concepts of the DS and of the CS to analyse
the nature of specific states and the dominant logics that inform them (on the DS,
see Johnson 1982; Evans 1995; Woo-Cumings 1999; Wade 1990; Amsden 1989;
on the CS, see Cerny, Menz and Soederberg 2005; Cerny and Evans 2004).
However, these studies do not so much interrogate the concepts as apply them
to interpret the actions of the states they study, deriving from these analyses evi-
dence that they use to characterise the states. Furthermore, they are discrete
studies and none seeks to discriminate between these two concepts. This article
therefore breaks new ground in discussing the applicability of these two concepts
through surveying how they have been used in the Irish case and drawing con-
clusions about their applicability and utility. Furthermore, in order to facilitate
addressing the critiques of Hay and Phillips referred to in the introductory
section above, the survey examines the literature under two optics that is,
what can loosely be called structure and agency. The first refers to the structural
direction of policy change while the second seeks to identify how and by what
actors the state’s policy agenda is changed. This latter therefore brings in politics
and seeks to understand the processes by which outcomes are produced.
Structural direction of policy change
Kirby, who first introduced the CS concept into the literature on the Irish state,
argues that the competition state accurately described the nature and operation
of the Irish state in the era of the Celtic Tiger since it prioritises goals of economic
competitiveness over those of social cohesion and welfare (Kirby 2002, 2005). He
writes that the concept of the CS analytically captures in a fuller way than does
that of the DS the logic of the Irish state’s actions. It does this since it links the
economic developmental dimension of state actions with the social distributional,
unlike the DS concept, which treats them separately. He concludes that the DS
concept therefore fails to understand why the state has been so unsuccessful in
translating economic success into social development (Kirby 2002: 142 4).
Dukelow also adopts the concept of competition state for the Irish case as ‘the
state has taken a selective interventionist role in the manner of a competition
state to re-orient social security policy to enhance economic competitiveness by
tackling unemployment, yet leaving levels of income inequality and poverty
remain relatively high’ (Dukelow 2004: 47). Dukelow rests most of her argument
that Ireland is a competition state on a forensic examination of Irish welfare and
labour market policy arguing that the combination of policies promoted over the
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1990s amounts to a strongly productivist state policy consistent with a competition
state (ibid: 22).
O
´
Riain is the only contributor to the literature on Ireland’s political economy to
have argued that Ireland is a DS. While O
´
Riain’s concept of the developmental
network state (DNS) has been outlined in the previous section, its application to
the Irish case requires further elaboration. What is it about the actions of the
Irish state that makes it a DNS? Essentially O
´
Riain bases his claim on the
state’s role in the transformation of the Irish economy in the 1990s. As he
writes: ‘A system of innovation emerged that supported relatively broad industrial
upgrading and a particularly dynamic high-technology sector among both
foreign and indigenous firms.’ (O
´
Riain 2004: 45). This upgrading was supported
by three types of state action, according to O
´
Riain. The first was a national system
of innovation underpinned by state-society alliances based upon the activities of
state agencies that defined policy priorities, provided finance and institutional sup-
ports, and legitimated this development agenda. The second was the broader set of
socioeconomic changes that generated local demand for technology goods and a
variety of services, particularly centred on the growth of an Irish software industry
which O
´
Riain calls ‘the leading edge of indigenous industrial upgrading in the
Celtic Tiger’ (ibid: 56).
The final type of state action relates to the wider socioeconomic conditions that
helped keep inflation low to improve industrial competitiveness. This was
achieved through neo-corporatist arrangements known in Ireland as social partner-
ship which managed a trade off between moderate wage increases agreed at
national-level negotiations and tax reductions. However, in a reference that
links to a topic that looms large in other works surveyed here, O
´
Riain recognises
the eroding of the revenue base of the state’s finances that was hidden during the
boom but which has become ever more evident as the boom years recede. As he
writes: ‘The social-partnership agreements ensured that integration into the global
economy has not decimated social rights. However, the agreements have also pre-
sided over a period of rising inequality and weakening welfare effort’ (ibid: 65).
O
´
Riain is critical of the CS as it extends important observations about the
specific features of many contemporary capitalist states into too general an argu-
ment regarding a new mode of capitalist regulation’ which thereby serves to
‘obscure the existence of a political space for struggles within and through existing
institutions over how development could and should be structured’ (ibid: 18).
Instead, he asks: ‘if the institutions of the Celtic Tiger could generate the
results they did in the face of domestic neoliberal populism and an international
order hostile to state and social shaping of economic life, what might they
achieve given a more supportive political order?’ (ibid: 11).
However, it is the CS that has come to dominate characterisations of the Irish
state as it evolved over the Celtic Tiger period. Boyle baldly states: ‘Contempor-
ary Ireland is an exemplar of the competition state, where social policy is subor-
dinated to the needs of the economy’ (Boyle 2005: 16). He notes the paradoxical
situation that Ireland, ‘with an anorexic level of spending on social policy’, still
managed throughout the 1990s to spend two per cent of gross national product
(GNP) on active labour market measures. This is consistent with the competition
state hypothesis that public investment shifts over time to focus on projects that
Globalisation and Models of State
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enhance capital or create flexible labour markets that promote enterprise, inno-
vation, learning and training. Boyle’s study of the state’s labour market agency,
FA
´
S (An Foras A
´
iseanna Saothair) gives insight into the political and institutional
reasons for the Irish state’s reponses to social needs over the course of the Celtic
Tiger boom. Of crucial explanatory importance are the significant EU Delors
funding regimes available from 1989 onwards: FA
´
S successfully manoeuvred to
put itself in a key strategic role to capture up to one third of the EU funding.
Boyle argues that the Irish state used FA
´
S, not because it could deliver develop-
mental policy objectives, but because it ‘could deliver a national system cheaply’.
He compares FA
´
S to the Swiss army-knife performing myriad functions but
none of them well and he comments on how FA
´
S worked with the inherent cli-
entelism of Irish politics, being comfortable with the ‘pragmatic-populist streak in
Irish politics’ (ibid: 1134). This pragmatic, low-cost approach to social provision
indicates the limits of the state’s action and is far from the transformative dynamic
one would expect from a developmental state.
Mary Murphy makes the strongest empirical argument that Irish social policy is
consistent with a competition state (Murphy 2006). She argues that showing
Ireland is a competition state does not mean proving that welfare spending has
been curtailed, but rather it requires demonstrating how social security policy
has been structurally reshaped to serve economic over welfare objectives. This
reshaping means that traditional social policy objectives of poverty reduction
and equality now take second place to a commitment to the promotion of competi-
tiveness. She finds that low taxation and wage moderation has put pressure on
public-sector spending and limited the state’s capacity to fund social security
more generously. Public goods, related to social justice and redistribution, are
increasingly privatised, while their distribution has become more consumer-
driven and less based on rights derived from citizenship. This has happened
across a range of social policy areas, including health, housing, education, pensions
and child and elder care. Increased women’s labour-market participation has
impacted on the capacity of families to provide welfare and resulted in greater
reliance on market-based provision of both child and elder care. In the Irish
case, new forms of inequality have emerged and those with weak capacity to par-
ticipate in the labour market have suffered most, resulting in what Cerny et al.
called the ‘pauperisation of segments of society’ (Cerny, Menz and Soederberg
2005: 29).
Gerry Boucher and Nigel Boyle (2007) are curious about the inconsistent nature
of Irish development. Separating accumulation and legitimation functions, they
show through case studies and examination of sector-specific policies that the
Irish state is more ambitious about and invests more heavily in policy initiatives
that might lead to greater competitiveness than in policy initiatives that have a
more legitimation function. For example, they compare the energy, drive and
financial investment in the Industrial Developmental Authority with the clear
lack of investment in an institutional infrastructure that might effectively main-
stream anti-poverty initiatives. They conclude that the competition goals of the
Irish state are far more important than are other more developmental goals.
Carmen Kuhling and Kieran Keohane (2007: 8) see the low level of state spending
on basic social programmes as being ‘indicative of a more general neo-liberal
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global trend towards the “competition” rather than the welfare state’ and they see
Ireland as leading a ‘race to the bottom’ among European states. While not
employing the term CS, Neil Robinson and Maura Adshead (2007) offer an analy-
sis that is consistent with aspects of the concept. They argue that Ireland exhibits
no significant developmental logic or investment in institutions with capacity to
shift spending from consumption to more developmental activities. They conclude
that Ireland began but did not complete the process of building an institutional
architecture for development. Similarly Eileen Connolly (2007), while not refer-
ring to the CS, examines the social partnership policy process and institutional
setting in which the National Anti-Poverty Strategy is developed with a view to
isolating the policy logic within which anti-poverty strategies are developed.
She highlights how the dominant policy paradigm out of which social partnership
operates limits its anti-poverty potential. Examining as a means for reducing
poverty how the four policy areas of social welfare, housing, health and education
have fared in the social partnership process, she finds that ‘actual policy initiatives
have been limited’ and concludes that ‘the over-arching policy ideas that informed
social partnership also appeared to some to constitute a straightjacket on policy
reform with any increased social welfare effort effectively defined as anti-com-
petitive in this paradigm’ (ibid: 36).
Finally, a number of contributors have argued against the binary division of CS
and DS. While acknowledging that ‘strong tendencies towards prioritising econ-
omic competitiveness are indeed apparent’, Nicola J.-Anhe Smith rejects that
Ireland can be characterised as a competition state since some distributive and
developmental tendencies are also apparent and change over time. She therefore
argues that Ireland cannot be neatly categorised as either a developmental or a
competition state and that state policy ‘has instead entailed elements of both’
(Smith 2005: 120 35). Rory O’Donnell (2008) is also sceptical of efforts to
characterise states, seeing in it echoes of Marxist theory and politics in the
inter-war period when much hung on whether a particular state was characterised
as socialist, imperialist or fascist. Instead, he agrees with Smith that what are being
examined are dimensions of the Irish state in which one can identify tendencies
and counter-tendencies.
Shifts in power and policy processes
Turning to agency, in the wider international literature both the CS and the DS
have been criticised for the general level at which they are advanced and their
failure to examine politics to account for outcomes achieved. Murphy’s work
has perhaps gone furtherest in seeking to account for the ways social policy has
changed over the course of the Celtic Tiger period, focusing attention on how
and where policy is mediated. Her detailed examination throws new light on
this previously hidden aspect of the state’s operations. Questioning the centrality
of social partnership to decision making, she concludes that partnership plays
more of an ideational and legitimation role than a policy-making role. For decision
making and budgetary policy, she identifies an inner policy network, which she
calls the ‘iron triangle’, made up of Ministers, their key political and personal
advisers and key civil servants (Murphy 2006, 2008).
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Smith focuses on the role that globalisation plays in the discourse of policy
makers. Providing the rationale for an emphasis on competitiveness, she finds
that senior politicians and policy makers use globalisation in a very positive
way as the wider context which has allowed Ireland to flourish but also as an
external pressure on economic policy making. As she writes in characterising
the dominant discourse: ‘Ireland may have flourished under conditions of globa-
lisation but is ultimately constrained by it. In this sense, globalisation is presented
as a non-negotiable external economic constraint’ (Smith 2005: 174.) She finds
European integration and Ireland’s place in the EU presented in a similar
fashion, though to international audiences what is presented is Ireland’s commit-
ment to the European project as a means to steer globalisation in a more humane
direction.
O
´
Riain has analysed what he calls ‘the ebb and flow of different projects within
the Celtic Tiger political economy’ (O
´
Riain 2008: 170), as a way of identifying
the actors that spurred the ‘emergent spaces of developmentalism and democrati-
sation that were particularly promising in the 1990s (ibid: 169). He divides the
period since 1987 into three sub-periods (see Table 1). The first, from 1987 to
1994, he labels neo-corporatist stabilisation; the second, from 1994 to 2000, is
the most interesting period as it marked the emergence of new developmental pro-
jects within the state. The final period, beginning in 2000, O
´
Riain calls ‘disciplin-
ing development and democracy’ as it is marked by a reassertion by the central
state and the market across a range of areas as the state makes itself more and
more subservient to the market, complicit in the growth of inequality and less
willing to protect the most vulnerable.
The closest we get to a developmental politics of welfare is the NESC proposal
for a DWS (NESC 2005). Yet, Murphy and Millar warn against confusing the
DWS rhetoric of government agencies with real evidence of welfare development-
alism (Murphy and Millar 2007). The origins of this strategic social policy frame-
work lay in a social partnership commitment and there is little doubt that in
normative terms those promoting and writing the strategy had genuinely develop-
mental ambitions for the Irish state. However, within the structures of social part-
nership they also had to negotiate with a powerful competition advocacy coalition
(led by the Department of Finance and backed by employer and business inter-
ests). This coalition left a strong imprint on the document. From the very start
the strategy makes clear that ‘the social dividend of strong economic performance
must however take forms that are supportive of the country’s ongoing ability to
trade advantageously in the world economy’ (ibid: 1) This language not only
reflects but is part of the process of making social policy subordinate to economic
policy. Thus, ambiguous language can be used to obfuscate the true intention of
the policy maker but it can also be used to keep various policy coalitions on
board when mediating structural policy reform.
Lessons from the Irish case
In drawing conclusions from the literature survey, it can be asked whether evi-
dence of the logics of developmentalism and competition could be complemen-
tary. On the one hand, state developmentalism seems largely restricted to areas
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TABLE 1. Phases of Ireland’s development model, 1987 2007
Year
Political
Regime International Murphy (2006)
Breathnach
(2005) O
´
Riain (2008) Meaning of Phases
19871992 Centre
Fianna Fail
Fianna Fail
/PD
International
recession
Monetarism
EMU
Growth
Coalition
Early
foundation
phase
Macroeconomic
stabilisation
Breaking the vicious socioeconomic cycle
and building a shared alternative future
analysis
Foreign direct investment with tax
incentives
Welfare characterised by cutbacks and
stabilisation
19921997 Centre-left
Fianna Fail
/Labour
Fine Gael/
Labour/
Democratic
Left
UN Summit Social
Development
Delors White Paper
OECD Jobs Crisis
Equity
coalition
Expansion
phase
‘Developmental
network statism’
Increased focus on social equality and
sharing of benefits
Extension of the partnership model, a
deepening of the innovation system and
managing growth and inflation
19972007 Centre -right
Fianna
Fail/
Progressive
Democrat
EU Lisbon Strategy
Growth
Competition
Employment
Competition
coalition
Transition
phase
Growth machine Refocuses on economics and a process of
narrowing and controlling the agenda
Lower taxes and increasing domestic
consumption
Narrowing the development strategy and
institutions and a reassertion of central state
control
2007? Centre
Coalition
Fianna Fail/
Greens
Global crisis
IMF
?? ? ?
Source: Adapted by authors from Murphy 2008, Breathnach 2005, O
´
Riain 2008.
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where state intervention was required to enable competition so that business
particularly foreign-owned companies could thrive and profit. This took
various forms and crossed many policy areas including national infrastructure,
education policy, taxation policy and industrial policy. In this context, state devel-
opmentalism and the competition state can be seen as being largely complemen-
tary to each other. However the more curious question to ask is where and why did
the state fail to be developmental in the sense of supporting the infrastructure of
the competition state, for example the lack of broadband infrastructure. In this
regard, the literature on the IT industry highlights the contradictory as opposed
to complementary nature of the state’s so-called developmental approach to the
software industry in the 1990s (Breathnach 1998; Guiomard 1995; MacSharry
and White 2001; O’Sullivan 2000; Sterne, 2004).
The point has been well made that amid the apparent success of the state in
enabling Ireland to become a world leader in IT there was a parallel failure to
develop the capacity of the emerging local indigenous industry. The same point
can be made for industrial policy as a whole where, despite the policy recommen-
dations in a succession of high-level reports (Ireland 1992, 2004; NESC 1982), the
state’s policy agenda has by and large favoured multinational corporations over
indigenous industry. This indicates clear limitations to the nature of the Irish
state’s developmental character.
It would seem also that the Irish state is uneven in the degree to which it is
developmental. Examining whether both logics are always evident within particu-
lar policy areas, Boucher and Boyle (2007) showed that strong state developmen-
tal capacity and outcomes in some policy areas (industrial policy) co-exist with
limited state developmental capacity in others (anti-poverty policy). Kirby
(2008) showed likewise. If the state’s developmental capacity is restricted or
ring fenced to only those areas, which enable domestic and international capital
to profit, then it can be argued that the developmentalist logic is secondary to
the overall logic of competition.
A different way of thinking about the developmental and competition aspects of
the state is to test whether they act as opposing logics. As such, they would some-
times have the effect of pulling policy in opposite directions and so neutralise
policy decisions, resulting in a state of ‘policy paralysis’. Childcare policy can
be seen as an example where the state had to mediate between the two opposing
logics of developmental policy campaigns for an inclusive universal approach to
childcare with child development at its core, and a more economic-oriented lobby
for an exclusive approach to childcare focused on enabling mothers to enter the
workforce to fill pressing labour shortages in specific industries and services.
In the event, in the 2002 Budget, the state failed to meet the objectives of either
lobby so that, rather than complementing one another, competition and develop-
mental logics cancelled each other out.
It is also useful to ask how consistently developmentalist or competition logics
have informed state policy over the last two decades. Various authors have, in
different ways, demonstrated different temporal phases of strong developmental-
ism and strong competition. For example, Murphy (2008) points to three different
political cycles over the last two decades (Table 1). A 1987 92 Growth Coalition,
with a right-of-centre political dynamic, managed an international economic crisis
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where the international policy community was dominated by monetarist policy
and European Monetary Union (EMU) convergence criteria. Subservience to
international capital marked this period. This is followed by a 1992 97 Equity
Coalition where two different left-of-centre political coalitions brought a new
equality focus and dynamic into an emerging cycle of economic growth. This
coalition had a more developmental perspective, sought greater alignment
between social and economic objectives and enabled a more effective state
policy to emerge. Over this period the international community is dominated by
key social policy debates, including the 1994 UN Summit on Social Development,
the Delors White Paper as well as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) Jobs Crisis document. From 1997 2006 there was a pro-
nounced Competition Coalition where a right-of-centre political dynamic
focused on reducing taxes to stimulate the economy and maintain a cycle of
high growth in a more competitive international political economy. National
policy debate and international discourse was dominated by the increasingly econ-
omic and employment focus of the EU Lisbon Strategy and the OECD. Both
Catherine Breathnach (2005) and O
´
Riain (2008) identify three broadly similar
stages where key Irish policy objectives are reflected in Irish social partnership
life cycles.
Table 1 demonstrates not only temporal shifts in developmentalist and compe-
tition logics but, as Murphy outlined, it also illustrates how different phases of
strong developmentalism and strong competition orientation can be shown to cor-
relate with a) different political administrations, and b) different aspects of global
and regional political economies. In other words, national politics still matters
hugely in determining national policy priorities but domestic politicking is also
framed, and to some degree limited, by the influences of economic and political
globalisation (Murphy 2008).
Shifts in power across interest groups are also evident in this period. The
competition state logic gains prominence as political power moves in a more
centre-right direction in a political alliance between Fianna Fa
´
il and the
pro-business Progressive Democrats. Furthermore, as recent financial crisis in
the banking system have exposed, an elite circle of power between political
elites, the financial sector and the construction industry became cemented over
the decade 19872007. As Cerny et al. (2005: 19) anticipate, elite power
becomes stronger in now well mapped golden circles of crony capitalism.
Finally, it is in the absence of strong social developmental outcomes that we
find the true test of whether the state developmentalism and competition state
can be truly complementary. In forging a strong competition state, there was
little focus on a redistributive policy that could achieve developmental goals
through progressive taxation, social welfare and public services. This should
not come as a surprise. There are real limits as to how developmental or
progressive a competition state can be. If, as we argue, the driving logic of
the competition state is to make social policy subservient to the economy then
there will be clear limits on the state’s social ambition or developmental
policy. A focus on observable outcomes in terms of increased inequality, home-
lessness, unemployment and poverty therefore suggests the overriding logic is
that of the competition state.
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The new conjuncture: Quo vadis?
This final section reflects on how the different developmental and competition
elements of the Irish state contributed to the current Irish domestic crisis. The
question of whether more developmental or more competition-like elements
will be reinforced in these circumstances is also addressed. The Irish economic
model has proved particularly vulnerable to, not only global, but also localised
economic recession. For example, the ESRI estimated Ireland’s economy would
contract by around 14 per cent between 2008 and 2010, which they described
as being ‘by historic and international standards ... a truly dramatic development’
(Barrett, Kearney and Goggin 2009: 32). European Commission figures showed a
decline of 2.3 per cent in Ireland’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2008, a fore-
cast decline of nine per cent for 2009 and a further decline of 2.6 per cent in 2010.
This put Ireland just behind the three Baltic states for the depth of its economic
depression over these three years but Ireland found itself in the worst position
in the EU in terms of its budget deficit, with the European Commission forecasting
in Spring 2009 that this would reach 15.6 per cent of GDP by 2010, well above
those even of the Baltic states. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in mid
2009 predicted a GDP decline of about 13.5 per cent for Ireland between 2008
and 2010 and said the Irish crisis ‘matches episodes of the most severe economic
distress in post-world war II history’ (IMF 2009: 28).
Aspects of a competition logic exposed the economy to high levels of risk an
overreliance on mobile foreign capital, a speculative property market, a local
economy ever more dependent for economic growth on a property bubble fuelled
by government incentives and low euro interest rates, and a lightly regulated finan-
cial sector. A strong developmental state might have been less vulnerable to exter-
nal shocks, regulating the banking sector to ensure it served the productive
economy, avoiding the overreliance of the state on taxes from consumption and
profits which collapsed once growth slowed, and with greater capacity in the
state and private sector to weather the storm. Instead, the Irish state had allowed
high levels of personal debt accumulate and faced major social and infrastructural
gaps even at the end of the Celtic Tiger boom. These greatly contributed to the swift
and deep decline experienced by the Irish economy once the global crisis hit.
The value of a theoretical focus on models of development is that it can serve as
a tool to make an empirical judgment on whether the Irish development model is
in fact changing and what kind of model is emerging. Some of the key paradig-
matic shifts we might expect include a realignment of the role of state in relation
to the market, a change in the nature of market regulation, particularly of the
banking sector, and a reassessment of the low-tax model that helped undermine
capacity in the Irish political economy. We would expect for example a develop-
mental state to more readily absorb lessons about the model’s vulnerability and to
make adjustments to address these. We would expect a competition state to con-
tinue to lay the conditions for elites to benefit and/or to make adjustments that do
not fundamentally interfere with their interests (in maintaining a low-tax model,
for example).
The scale and direction of any adjustment depends to some degree on the state’s
location in the global economy. Ireland’s two Lisbon Treaty referenda, in 2008
Peadar Kirby & Mary Murphy
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and 2009, leave little doubt about the degree to which Ireland’s political economy
is rooted in a EU regional political economy. As a euro state, Irish macroeconomic
choices are dependant to the degree to which a revised EU Stability and Growth
pact offers room for fiscal manoeuvre. The EU model of development, the so-
called Lisbon triangle, emphasises growth, competitiveness and jobs with increas-
ingly less emphasis on social inclusion or wider human development (EAPN
2008). While EU political debate has acknowledged that this very policy
agenda to drive growth may have contributed to the crisis and to increased Euro-
pean and global polarisation, the EU remains doggedly focused on an aggressive
growth, competitiveness and deregulation agenda albeit with suggestions to move
towards a more sustainable model from the perspective of ecological sustainabil-
ity.
7
However varieties of capitalism remain very much national varieties, within
the context of the EU Lisbon model. Different EU states have developed very
different models of political economy. In the Irish case, Connolly (2007) has
mapped two critical junctures in Irish models of development (1958 and 1987).
8
It can now be asked whether the recession will trigger a significant political
debate about the Irish model of development and perhaps mark a new critical junc-
ture? While some left-of-centre non-governmental organisations and trade unions
have argued that the crisis is an opportunity for change in the model of develop-
ment the main actors in a position to influence national debate focus on a short-
term survival strategy in an attempt to return to normal as soon as possible
(Begg 2009; Is Fe
´
idir Linn 2009). There is little evidence to date of any change
in national focus. As well as the Lisbon Treaty debate referred to above, three
other policy debates have dominated Ireland 2009. It is worth reviewing each in
turn to see what they tell.
In the establishment of a National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) to
manage property related bad debts or toxic assets, the Irish government chose
to pay banks E7 billion over the market value of that property in late 2009 on
the grounds that this was calculated to take into account its longer-term value.
However, fears were raised that this would help bail out property developers
who were effectively bankrupt and would transfer public resources directly to
private banks and bank shareholders. This choice to effectively socialise risk
and privatise profit reflects a model of development committed to maximising
private profit and to maintaining wealth and income disparities. By adding
greatly to the state’s debt burden, it effectively constrains it from funding generous
social development over the next generation. The Terms of Reference for the
Commission on Taxation which reported in September 2009 specifically
instructed that all tax reform proposals should result in a revenue neutral
outcome, that Ireland remain a low-tax economy and that the state’s 12.5 per
cent corporation tax be maintained (Ireland 2009a). Restoring competition is
still the national priority and the maintenance of the present low corporate tax
regime suggests Foreign Direct Investment is still at the centre of the Irish
model. Furthermore government has responded to the Report by signalling that
most progressive tax reform options (such as property tax) will only be considered
in the longer term, if at all. A government-initiated Review of Public Expenditure
and Public Sector Staffing Levels reported in July 2009 (Ireland 2009b). Its long
list of proposals for draconian public expenditure cuts reflected an underlying
Globalisation and Models of State
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Department of Finance neoliberal objective of a smaller welfare state and lacked
any hint of a developmental agenda. To many, this approach to managing a major
public expenditure crisis appears the only option; however, in the context of par-
allel choices to pay E 7 billion over market prices for toxic property assets and to
rule out tax increases in the 2010 Budget, it can be seem more correctly as a choice
with clear redistributive implications. By significantly reducing welfare and public
services, government is choosing to let those on the lowest incomes bear the brunt
of the crisis and to undermine capacity in public services like education and local
development agencies.
These policy choices will embed and deepen Ireland’s status as a low taxation/
low social expenditure model of development. As it is, the Irish percentage of
GDP spent on social protection (18.2 per cent) continues to compare badly with
not only high spenders France (31.1 per cent) and Sweden (30.7 per cent) but
also the EU-15 average of 27.5 per cent, the UK (26.4 per cent) and countries
like Greece 24.2 per cent and Portugal 25.4 per cent (Eurostat 2009). Clearly
there is little evidence of developmentalism in the state’s response to the crisis.
Its only developmental role appears to be the restoration and maintenance of com-
petitiveness. As Matthew Watson (2009) found in an analysis of the British gov-
ernment bank bailouts, Irish policy responses outlined above are a testament to a
political choice to continue a state-led neoliberalism. Ireland is prepared to meet
this objective at the expense of what could be quite extreme social inequality and
disruption this has all the hallmarks of a Competition rather than a Developmen-
tal State. The failure to make the connection between the fiscal crisis and social
outcomes means the recession is likely to further deepen poverty, inequality
and social exclusion, result in greater precariousness in income poverty, deepen
the structural inequality that already characterises Irish society, increase an
already high level of homelessness and ensure gender equality will be margina-
lised on the national political agenda. The biggest impact of the recession is
likely to be a return to structural long-term unemployment, a problem that was
deeply embedded in the Irish economy up until the late 1990s. A developmental
state would surely seek to share such social pain more equally (ICTU 2009).
The crisis of global capitalism appears, at least not yet, to mark a critical junc-
ture. No significant paradigm shift in the Irish, EU or global models of market
capitalism is evident. While there are some moves towards greater market regu-
lation, and towards a greener economy, the central focus is still on how to relaunch
growth, how to provide a fiscal stimulus to recreate consumer demand and how
thereby to return to a consumer-driven economy. There is still the assumption
that growth is equal to development. Turning the crisis into an opportunity for a
more progressive economic and social model, and for greater human development,
requires a greater focus on the central role that politics plays in determining
models of development. The relationship between political systems and social
and economic models requires more research. Building a different model requires
the mobilisation of interest groups with the institutional capacity to articulate and
promote alternative policy paradigms. There is a clear absence of this capacity in
contemporary Irish politics. Reform of political institutions is a necessary first step
in reforming the model of development. This is where changing the Irish model of
development needs to start.
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Notes
1. Emphasis in original.
2. It is acknowledged that the concepts of developmental or competition state do not exhaust the possible charac-
terisations that can be made of the state, and that there exist other approaches to characterising the state (such
as the varieties of capitalism literature or regulation theory). However, since the purpose of this article is to
make a contribution to wider debates through an analysis of the Irish state, and since a debate on the devel-
opmental versus competition state concepts has dominated the recent literature on the Irish state, this article
limits itself to this debate within international political economy.
3. Emphasis in original.
4. Emphasis in original.
5. Emphasis in original.
6. Emphasis in original.
7. It is helpful to identify the current sub-debates within the EU policy and political system and in other inter-
national institutions that will frame choices within the Irish model of development. One key policy area
that illustrates well the policy choices between a developmental agenda and a competition agenda is the
issue of active social policy. Here various policy frameworks are emerging from different coalitions of
actors in global policy institutions. These options stretch on a continuum of developmental to competition
state. Within the EU there is a coalition for an inclusive and developmental agenda of Active Inclusion for
All which focuses on adequate income, active labour markets and good public services as the way forward
for an inclusive society. An alternative EU policy coalition argues for flexicurity, a more employment-
focused social inclusion strategy with a flexible but secure workforce based on three pillars strong
welfare, jobs and an active labour market. The OECD, on the other hand, argues for activation based on a
more conditional and more minimal welfare system with strong labour market participation, a model that
fits more closely with that of a competition state. Various policy coalitions are arguing at a national level
for these different models of active social policy.
8. The stark evidence about the vulnerable and unsustainable nature of the Irish variety of capitalism
suggests that we could enter a new critical juncture in which a new Irish model of development
emerges. Shifts in models of development tend to happen at critical junctures such as the present
moment in the global economy.
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... This is characteristic of a competition state where social expenditure is used to support national competitiveness (Cerny, 1997). Kirby and Murphy, (2011) argue that Ireland displays strong competition logic in the contemporary reshaping of Irish social policy. ...
Thesis
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A central premise of this study is that Irish youth work is increasingly governed and re-formed through problems constituted in Government policy discourse. The purpose of the study is to critically analyse contemporary youth work policy in a context of neoliberal reform. The research specifically focused on analysing data from one particular policy text – the Value for Money and Policy Review of Youth Programmes (VFMPR) (DCYA, 2014). This text was chosen because of its intense interest in the conduct of youth work, which included an ‘examination’ of youth work practice in 13 sample sites across Ireland. This study sought to understand how the VFMPR policy attempts to govern the future conduct and shape of youth work and to analyse how this might have damaging effects for the ideals and practices of open and open-ended youth work. The study draws on poststructural and governmentality perspectives to conceptualise policy as a governing technology that works through constructing problems and opening certain solutions. Policy as a governing technology also works by disseminating governing through its discourse which has both symbolic and material effects. Using governmentality theory, neoliberalism is conceptualised as a dominant rationality in contemporary modes of governing and the influence of this rationality is examined in the work of the VFMPR policy discourse. Specifically, the study engaged the analytical framework called ‘What’s the Problem Represented to be?’ (WPR) (Bacchi, 2009). This framework supports a form of poststructural policy analysis that questions policy and the role it plays in ordering society (Bacchi and Goodwin, 2016). The findings of the study suggest that the VFMPR policy attempts to produce youth work as a site of neoliberal governmentality through the production of various problem representations of youth work. The work of this policy displays attempts to discursively shift youth work as a ‘human service’, out of an older social domain and into a newer economic and market domain. This study contributes to a critical analysis of Irish youth work policy and the increasing attempts at producing youth work as a site for neoliberal governmentality. It offers youth work practitioners and advocates an analysis of the role of policy in re-forming practice at the current time.
... and Kirby and Murphy (2011) have comprehensively detailed why Ireland's economic development during its 'Celtic Tiger' era of high growth during the 1990s and 2000s is best conceptualised as a form of neoliberal 'competition state' economy. The 'competition state' is an analytical construct used to assess the ways in which industrially developed states began to restructure themselves during the 1990s in response to the opportunities and constraints resulting from the ongoing global liberalisation of capital(Kirby and Murphy, 2011: 23). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter I argue that austerity is not primarily designed to solve an economic crisis, but rather to solve a crisis of wealth distribution. This fact has been hidden by political framing strategies that present austerity as either an appropriate technical solution, or as morally justified. Austerity is a neoliberal strategy to preserve an institutional pattern of wealth distribution, one that favours owners of capital under conditions of a shrinking economic surplus. Drawing upon social stratification theory, this chapter theorizes a capitalist economic crisis as primarily a socio-political distributional crisis, thereby sharpening into view the fundamental issue at stake. When seen through a lens of social stratification, austerity works extremely well. Consequently, framing austerity as a technical and moral issue is therefore strategic. It follows from the fact that in order to dictate the socio-political response to a crisis of distribution, a group must be able to provide the dominant framing of the nature of the crisis and its logical solution (Sum & Jessop, 2013). This chapter conducts a critical discourse analysis of a major Irish news medium, the Irish Times, between Jan 2009 and Dec 2010. The aim is to assess who had access to influential opinion articles discussing Ireland's economic crisis, how these commentators framed the crisis and its solution, and finally how these opinion pieces relate to actual economic theory.
... and Kirby and Murphy (2011) have comprehensively detailed why Ireland's economic development during its 'Celtic Tiger' era of high growth during the 1990s and 2000s is best conceptualised as a form of neoliberal 'competition state' economy. The 'competition state' is an analytical construct used to assess the ways in which industrially developed states began to restructure themselves during the 1990s in response to the opportunities and constraints resulting from the ongoing global liberalisation of capital(Kirby and Murphy, 2011: 23). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
In this chapter I argue that austerity is not primarily designed to solve an economic crisis, but rather to solve a crisis of wealth distribution. This fact has been hidden by political framing strategies. In reformulating a capitalist economic crisis as primarily a socio-political distributional crisis I seek to sharpen into view the fundamental issue at stake. Austerity is a neoliberal strategy to preserve an institutional pattern of wealth distribution, one that favours owners of capital under conditions of a shrinking economic surplus. Consequently, when seen through a lens of social stratification, austerity works extremely well. Discursively framing austerity as a technical and moral issue is therefore strategic. It follows from the fact that in order to dictate the socio-political response to a crisis of distribution a group must be able to provide the dominant framing of the nature of the crisis and its logical solution (Sum & Jessop, 2013). This chapter conducts a critical discourse analysis of a major Irish news medium, the Irish Times, between Jan 2009 and Dec 2010. The aim is to assess who had access to opinion articles discussing Ireland's economic crisis, how these commentators framed the crisis and its solution, and finally how these opinion pieces relate to actual economic theory.
... The latter points towards currently existing, hard-to-shift obstacles to deliberative democracy that arise from mainstream media's unquestioned support for economic growth objectives pursued by the political and economic establishment. These persistent affinities position climate change mitigation efforts within the predominant competition state agenda which subordinates social policy to the goals of economic competitiveness (Kirby & Murphy, 2011). For example, the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 enshrines into legislation a weak eco-modernist, pro-growth approach to climate mitigation that rests upon controlled top-down management of the issue (see also Fox & Rau 2016). ...
Article
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The mainstreaming of climate change through processes of media communication and political advocacy carries with it an imagined public. Drawing on qualitative data from 11 focus groups and 19 life history interviews carried out in the Republic of Ireland, the paper reveals a significant mismatch between the perceived characteristics of this imagined audience, and the practices and experiences of a socially embedded Irish public. Moreover, we observe the emergence of restrictive forms of discourse around climate change that leave little room for connecting with the topic, thereby serving to delegitimise it as a matter of public interest. Given the necessity for climate action and decarbonisation efforts that reach across diverse social and cultural arenas, we see potential for a broadening of public debate in line with key principles of deliberative democracy, with a view to achieving a more open and inclusive politics of climate change. Although we recognise the limitations of mainstream deliberative democracy thinking, including its inherent rationalism, we believe that its explicit commitment to inclusiveness and transparency offers a viable alternative to current disengagement and exclusion of citizens from meaningful climate change debate and action.
... We suggest that these structures have emerged within and are supported by Ireland's liberalized growth and competition state agenda (Fox, 2014). Considering how Ireland's economic policy responds to the demands of neoliberal globalization, Kirby and Murphy (2011) label the Irish state a "competition state" that shifts statist capital toward global market competitiveness and away from social cohesion and welfare. Importantly, however, these shifts in how the Irish state spends its money have had, and continue to have, far-reaching consequences for the communication of climate change in Ireland. ...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change communication research in Ireland has only recently emerged as a distinct field of inquiry. Research to date reveals the marginalization of climate change in the mainstream media, which is further amplified by its segregation from closely related topics of major public concern in Ireland such as extreme weather events, flooding, energy resources, or economic recovery. Content analyses of media coverage from the late 1990s until today show the coexistence of different narratives, with ecological modernization emerging as an increasingly dominant discourse that is supported by powerful actors in Irish society. In contrast, more radical and alternative perspectives on the subject of climate change, including those associated with class-centered and growth-sceptic views of society and economic development, remain largely absent. Efforts to date by key public figures, environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs), and environmentalists to promote a more nuanced and citizen-centered climate change debate have concentrated on both traditional and nontraditional news outlets in an attempt to reach diverse audiences. Conventional media such as the national broadcaster RTÉ or the broadsheet newspaper The Irish Times nevertheless continue to fundamentally shape public debate in Ireland, making their future involvement in nuanced and balanced climate change debates central to any effort to shift thinking, policy, and action.
... We suggest that these structures have emerged within and are supported by Ireland's liberalized growth and competition state agenda (Fox, 2014). Considering how Ireland's economic policy responds to the demands of neoliberal globalization, Kirby and Murphy (2011) label the Irish state a "competition state" that shifts statist capital toward global market competitiveness and away from social cohesion and welfare. Importantly, however, these shifts in how the Irish state spends its money have had, and continue to have, far-reaching consequences for the communication of climate change in Ireland. ...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change communication research in Ireland has only recently emerged as a distinct field of inquiry. Research to date reveals the marginalization of climate change in the mainstream media, which is further amplified by its segregation from closely related topics of major public concern in Ireland such as extreme weather events, flooding, energy resources, or economic recovery. Content analyses of media coverage from the late 1990s until today show the coexistence of different narratives, with ecological modernization emerging as an increasingly dominant discourse that is supported by powerful actors in Irish society. In contrast, more radical and alternative perspectives on the subject of climate change, including those associated with class-centered and growth-sceptic views of society and economic development, remain largely absent. Efforts to date by key public figures, environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs), and environmentalists to promote a more nuanced and citizen-centered climate change debate have concentrated on both traditional and nontraditional news outlets in an attempt to reach diverse audiences. Conventional media such as the national broadcaster RTÉ or the broadsheet newspaper The Irish Times nevertheless continue to fundamentally shape public debate in Ireland, making their future involvement in nuanced and balanced climate change debates central to any effort to shift thinking, policy, and action.
Article
The propensity for macro-economic developments to affect the vitality of endangered languages is often alluded to in relevant literature, but rarely explicated in any great detail. Attempting to help rectify this, the case of Irish in the wake of the 2008 economic crash and “Great Recession” which followed is discussed. In addition to examining the effects of austerity on Irish-language institutions and policies, ethnographic data from some of the strongest remaining Irish-speaking communities – collectively known as the “Gaeltacht” – are presented, illustrating some micro-level consequences of macro-level developments. The effects of the recession on the Gaeltacht labour market are discussed, as are issues of migration and community resistance. It is argued that neoliberalism fundamentally conflicts with revitalising minoritised languages.
Article
(Article published online, July 2017 - available for download: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/dBNH5MBjJIREeDmvjkE2/full) Irish media representation of rugby union in the post-1995 professional era has become a vehicle for the rehearsal of fantasies and anxieties concerning national identity in the context of the Republic of Ireland as a neoliberal state. Irish rugby’s reorganisation and competitive successes have generated comforting images and discourses of centralised management, national cohesion and continuity while successive Irish governments’ neoliberal policies have focused on deregulation, facilitating foreign direct investment and reduced social services spending. Representations of advancements in management intersected with pervasive managerialist discourses in Irish media and politics during and following the 2008 collapse of the Celtic Tiger boom, but with a heavy stress on serving the “national interest”. Relatedly, the targeted import of foreign players and coaches is often depicted as reflective of Irish rugby management’s successful negotiation of the neoliberal environment of contemporary European and world rugby. However, concerns regarding the potential hindrance of “native” player/coach development and the threat of economically driven out-migration evince anxieties concerning Irish rugby’s fragile economy and cultural identity that interconnect with broader concerns regarding Ireland’s enduring economic vulnerability following the 2008 financial crisis.
Chapter
This chapter critically interrogates the understanding of economics guiding higher education globally.
Chapter
In the mid- to late 1990s Ireland for the first time began to attract international attention for what seemed a remarkable developmental breakthrough. Embracing the opportunities opened by globalization, it managed, through some options made by policy makers and with not a little luck, to create conditions that led to a 15-year economic boom, from 1993 to 2007, which saw employment expand dramatically, and average living standards rise to some of the highest levels in the European Union. Yet, this ‘Celtic Tiger’, as it came to be known both at home and abroad, collapsed suddenly in 2008 as the country entered into a crisis that, in the words of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) ‘matches episodes of the most severe economic distress in post-World War II history’ (IMF, 2009: 28). In late March 2011, the governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, Prof. Patrick Honohan, who is an academic expert on finance, described it as ‘one of the costliest banking crises in history’ (quoted in Carswell, 2011). As the full scale of sorting out its bankrupt banking system became obvious, the country’s deficit as a percentage of its GDP rose to 32 percent in 2010, a full ten times the deficit permitted by the European Union and a record for any country outside wartime. Meanwhile, the country experienced its deepest recession since independence in 1922: GDP declined by 3.5 percent in 2008, a further 7.6 percent in 2009, and 1 percent in 2010 while GNP, regarded as a more accurate measure of Irish growth since it excludes the extensive profits of multinational companies taken out of the economy, contracted by 3.5 percent in 2008, a further 10.7 percent in 2009 and 2.1 percent in 2010. Unemployment, which as recently as 2007 had been 4.4 percent of the labour force, had risen to almost 15 percent by mid-2011.
Chapter
Full-text available
This is the chapter on social partnership in a 2008 edited volume on the Irish state, edited by Maura Adshead, Peadar Kirby and Michelle Miller. The chapter documents the prevalence of encompassing social partnership agreements between 1987 and 2008 and analyses its implications for public governance. It identies a dual evolution in social partnership, involing some extension from high-level bargaining to multi-level bargaining on complex supply-side issues. It shows that Irish partnership involved not only adaptation of state systems, but also the creation of new service sectors. It discusses competing interpretations of Irish social partnership, as 'competitive corporatism' or 'social concertation with new governance'
Book
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Article
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The capitalist welfare state achieved its full development within the nearly closed national economies of the early postwar decades. After the rampant protectionism following the Great Depression, and after the complete breakdown of world markets in World War II, the restoration of international competition in the markets for industrial goods was a slow process, while agriculture and services remained largely protected, and capital markets tightly controlled in most countries. Behind these protective barriers, economically advanced democracies were finally free to exploit the economic efficiency of dynamic capitalism without having to accept its unequal distributional consequences, and they learned to control the recurrent crises that had been associated with unfettered international capitalism before World War One and, again, in the inter-war period.
Chapter
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Drawing on the French regulation approach and neo-Marxist state theory, this chapter addresses three closely related sets of issues.1 First, what exactly is involved in theorising the post-Fordist welfare state? Second, approaching the latter as a theoretical object, what might its core features comprise? And, third, is the British state acquiring these features? Arguments about these issues are often vague and, when taken together, frequently prove inconsistent. There is little agreement about the nature of Fordism and post-Fordism in general or the trajectories which might link them—let alone about the post-Fordist state in particular or the transitional regimes which might connect it to its putative Fordist precursor. Unless these problems are resolved, however, it would be premature to anticipate the core features of a post-Fordist welfare regime. Moreover, until these features are spelt out, if only in a preliminary manner, there can be no referent for assessing whether Britain has been moving towards some form of post-Fordist welfare state. It is these three issues in their interconnection that define my agenda here.
Book
In the final years of the twentieth century Ireland was the economic wonder of the western world. The economy is now in transition and things have changed dramatically, especially in the light of September 11th. This book explains why Ireland has made such startling progress and identifies the policies which will help in our changing circumstances and carry us through into a bright future. It examines The Irish economic policy and its performance The effect and challenges of globalisation Environmental damage and climate change Social issues, such as housing, traffic, immigration. From a background in economics, and with internationally recognised expertise, these three authors look at the current crisis and at the big quality of life issues which interest every human being.