Discipline to Flourish: On The Meaning and Uses of Discipline in Industrial Policy
Lecture by Seth Pipkin, an Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at the University of California, Irvine.
This lecture will be presented in Fayerweather 209.
Seth Pipkin is an Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at the University of California, Irvine. His research focuses on themes related to international and urban development, with interests in topics such as industrial policy, international supply chains, industrial upgrading, and state-business relations. He researches these issues at the national and regional level primarily in Mexico, Latin America, and the United States.
The ideological pendulum has clearly swung back toward a more assertive, guiding role for the state in economic policy. Reliance on the “magic of the market” has been discredited. A more assertive state is increasingly viewed as a vehicle to overcome challenges as diverse as supply chain resilience, the political fallout of “superstar” economic competition, the emergence of China as a perceived economic and political rival, and the increasingly manifest urgency of the global climate crisis. In the rush to name a successor to the neoliberal paradigm, proposed titles such as “modern supply-side,” “supply-side progressivism,” “productivism,” “the resilience paradigm,” and “the new industrialism” have emerged. At the center of these responses is industrial policy, defined here as any deliberate effort to effect structural change in the economy. Industrial policy has come to the forefront in China, the US, Western Europe, and much of the Global South. Current scholarship on industrial policy suggests that the key hurdle is the state’s commitment – to lead, to spend, to buy, or otherwise “get in the game.” Yet previous historical experience shows that this is insufficient. Across a broad landscape of past international experiences with industrial policy, the greatest successes share a common element: the state’s sustained practice of “discipline” over the private sector.
This is especially apparent in the rapid rise of East Asian “developmental states” relative to the rest of the world in the post-World War II era. This paper asks: how can the concept of discipline help us to understand how industrial policy
can be used to achieve its ambitious goals? We propose a more general and unifying definition of discipline as any activity which increases the alignment between social and private returns to capital. Drawing from the experience of successful industrial policies in East Asia and elsewhere, we suggest three main categories of discipline: information-sharing, rule-setting, and performance-eliciting. Each of these is described and analyzed in terms of their positive contributions, as well as what obstructs their achievement. This definition and these categories suggest a framework for how state actors and political coalitions can foment discipline in the pursuit of long-term public goals. This framework can be a source of practical industrial policy recommendations by highlighting common sources of discipline, as well as common obstacles and the means of overcoming them.
Organized by the PhD students in the Urban Planning Program at Columbia GSAPP. Free and open to the public.
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