Workshop “Varieties of Economic Nationalism in Cold War Europe: Small State Responses to Economic Change, 1960s to 1980s”

The Research Centre for the History of Transformations (RECET) and the Institute of East European History at the University of Vienna will organise a two-day workshop entitled “Varieties of Economic Nationalism in Cold War Europe: Small State Responses to Economic Change, 1960s to 1980s” which, if the pandemic allows for it, will be held as an in-person event in Vienna on September 19-20, 2022

The aim of our workshop is to reassess the gradual shift from the Keynesianism of capitalism’s golden age to neoclassical economics and the liberalization of trade and capital flows, which extended from the 1960s to the 1980, from a small state perspective. Small states, either being or perceiving themselves small in size and market share or subdued to a powerful hegemonic neighbour, are particularly vulnerable to global economic change and susceptible to external market pressure. Yet we do not consider small states as mere objects of hegemonic economic players, but acknowledge their agency both in containing the impact of globalizing markets and commerce on their domestic economies and in turning trade liberalization into a strategic asset.

Resting on the assumption that national interest and nationalism are powerful factors in economic development, we are looking forward to discussing the various strategies adopted by European state and non-state actors to respond to the challenges and opportunities of internationalization, economic liberalization and globalization. Following the ongoing conceptual debate about economic nationalism and globalization as being not mutually exclusive but reinforcing forces, we approach the notion of economic nationalism as a flexible concept that encompasses the full range of nuances between protectionism on the one end of the spectrum and targeted integration into an increasingly interconnected world market on the other. Based on empirical case studies from smaller countries across Cold War Europe, we are envisioning a fruitful debate on small state survival strategies and opportunities in a globalizing world as well as the ability of small states to navigate underneath the radar of East-West diplomacy and, thereby, to undermine the logic of bloc policies.

The organizers are thus welcoming paper proposals that apply a historical perspective to small state strategies aimed at straddling the line between globalization on the one hand and the national economy and statehood on the other, particularly regarding the interplay between state and non-state actors. We are especially interested in paper proposals addressing the topics of:

  • IDEAS AND POLICIES: How did national economic institutions and thinktanks assess and define the national interest in times of economic change and what policy advice did they offer? What impact did global economic trends have on efforts to improve the plan-based national economies in the socialist orbit? How did the embeddedness of local experts into their transnational epistemic communities foster the dissemination of neoclassical ideas outside the Anglo-Saxon world?
  • CAPITAL AND ENTERPRISE: How was the increasing significance of capital investments in the global economy and the rise of transnational and joint production perceived from a small state perspective? How did small states promote and protect the interests of their multinational enterprises on foreign markets? Which role did transnational entrepreneurs play in globalizing small state economies?
  • LABOUR MOBILITY AND LABOUR PROTECTIONISM: How did the free flow not only of goods and capital, but also of manpower and labourers affect small state economic policies? What role did temporary or permanent migrant labourers play for the economic integration of small states into the wider world market, both regarding receiving and sending countries?

We expect to be able to cover travel and accommodation expenses. Moreover, we are planning to publish the results of the conference in the form of a collective volume, which might necessitate further meetings online or in Vienna following the workshop.

Organizers: Associate Professor Adrian Brisku (Charles University Prague/University of Vienna), Mag. Martin Gumiela (University of Vienna), Dr. Lars Fredrik Stöcker (University of Vienna)

For further information or questions, please feel free to contact Martin Gumiela at martin.gumiela(at)