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Paradoxes of the Competition State: The Dynamics of Political Globalization

  • Philip G. Cerny


THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE NATION-STATE INTO A ‘COMPETITION state’ lies at the heart of political globalization. In seeking to adapt to a range of complex changes in cultural, institutional and market structures, both state and market actors are attempting to reinvent the state as a quasi-‘enterprise association’ in a wider world context, a process which involves three central paradoxes. The first paradox is that this process does not lead to a simple decline of the state but may be seen to necessitate the actual expansion of de facto state intervention and regulation in the name of competitiveness and marketization.



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18 A ‘quango’, or quasi–autonomous non–governmental organization, is an authoritative body licensed by the state to carry out public regulatory functions but made up of appointed representatives of private sector interests. It is probably best considered to be a variant of state corporatism.

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22 Cerny, P. G., ‘The Infrastructure of the Infrastructure? Toward “Embedded Financial Orthodoxy” in the International Political Economy’, in Palan, Ronen P. and Gills, Barry, (eds), Transcending the State–Global Divide: A Neostructuralist Agenda in International Relations, Boulder, Co., Lynne Reinner, 1994, pp. 223–49.

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30 Zysman, John., ‘The Myth of the “Global” Economy’: Enduring National Foundations and Emerging Regional Realities’, New Political Economy, Vol. 1, No. 1, Summer 1996, pp. 157–84.

31 Crozier, Michel. and Friedberg, Erhard., L’acteur et le systeme: les contraintes de l’action collective, Paris, Editions du Seuil, 1977 .

32 Cerny, P. G., ‘Dynamics of Financial Globalization: Technology, Market Structure, and Policy Response’, Policy Sciences, Vol. Policy Sciences, No. 4, 11 1994, pp. 319–42.

33 Goodman, John B. and Pauly, Louis W., ‘The Obsolescence of Capital Controls? Economic Management in an Age of Global Markets’, World Politics, Vol. 46, No. 4, 10 1993, pp. 5082 ; Kaplan, Ethan B., Governing the Global Economy: International Finance and the State, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1994 ; Helleiner, Eric N., ‘Post–Globalization: Is the Financial Liberalization Trend Likely to be Reversed?’, in Boyer, Robert. and Drache, Daniel (eds), States Against Markets: The Limits of Globalization, London, Routledge, 1996 ; Cerny, P. G., ‘International Finance and the Erosion of State Policy Capacity’, in Gummett, Philip (ed.), Globalization and Public Policy, Cheltenham, Glos., and Brookfield, VT, Elgar, 1996, pp. 83104 .

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40 Singer, Max. and Wildavsky, Aaron., The Real World Order: Zones of Peace/Zones of Turmoil, Chatham, NJ, Chatham House Publishers, 1993 .

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Government and Opposition
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