Very few studies have ventured to explore the shift in economic ideas that were such a critical factor in shaping and understanding the East European transition process. Paul Dragos Aligica and Anthony J. Evans have seized upon the potential that this crucial case has to illuminate the larger phenomenon of diffusion and adoption of economic ideas. Two different but related research agendas are developed: the study of the spread of ‘neoliberalism’ as seen from the perspective of Eastern European post-communist evolutions and the study of Eastern European transition as seen from an ideas-centered perspective.
Combining a distinctive synthesis of the existing data about the spread of neoliberal economic ideas in Central and Eastern Europe with an analysis of the processes at work, the authors challenge a series of misunderstandings and myths about the spread of neoliberal economic ideas. The disputed topics include: the myth of an Eastern European rush to embrace the theories and ideas that may be considered the mark of ‘market fundamentalism’; the notion that a harsh ‘neoliberal dogmatism’ was somehow imposed on the region from outside; the idea that the standardization and regimentation of economic thinking was a result of the spread of the Western way of doing economics; and the belief that the Eastern Europeans passively embraced this uniformity and standardization due to pressure from the Westerners.
This unusual synthesis will appeal to scholars in economics, political science, communist/post-communist studies and new institutionalism, as well as policymakers.