The discourse of competitiveness and the dis-embedding of the national economy

Linsi, L., 18-Nov-2019, In : Review of International Political Economy.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

In the 1950s–1970s inward foreign direct investments (IFDI) were widely seen as a menace, threatening to undermine national economic development. Two decades later such concerns had virtually disappeared. Rather than as a problem, IFDI were now portrayed as a solution – even symbols of national economic success. To better understand the ideational dynamics underlying this remarkable transformation in perceptions of IFDI, this research traces the evolution of economic discourses in the United Kingdom over the post-war period. Deviating from conventional accounts in constructivist IPE, the investigation indicates that the rise of first-generation neoliberal discourses in the 1980s played only a secondary role in these processes. Instead, the discursive re-shaping of IFDI was primarily driven by the rise of the narrative of national competitiveness in the early 1990s – a discourse inspired by managerial rather than neoclassical economic theory. Building a framework that prioritizes (multinational) firms over national economies, the rise of this second-generation neoliberal narrative played a critical role in promoting now taken-for-granted imaginaries of the global economy as an economic ‘race’ between nations-as-platforms-of-production. The findings highlight the ideational underbelly of the rise of the competition state and how it re-shaped dominant social representations of IFDI.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReview of International Political Economy
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18-Nov-2019


  • economic ideas, business schools, competitiveness, foreign direct investment, United Kingdom, DISCURSIVE CONSTRUCTION, POLITICAL-ECONOMY, POLICY, GLOBALIZATION, STATE, LABOR

ID: 102691736