Taking back control: Comprador bankers and the revival of developmentalism in Poland

Image: Marek Naczyk

Taking back control: Comprador bankers and the revival of developmentalism in Poland

Tuesday, 26 January 2021 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Online Event
Marek Naczyk (Social Policy and Intervention, Oxford)
Tim Vlandas (St Antony's College, Oxford)
Jan Drahokoupil (European Trade Union Institute, Brussels)
ESC Core Seminar Series

With rare exception, political economists assume that developmental policies and developmental alliances between state and business are the result of a top-down co-option or coercion of business by states. They also do not expect the subsidiaries of multinational corporations (MNCs) and their local, non-expat, managers – the “compradors” – to press for developmentalism in host countries. Based on process tracing of Polish economic policy since the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC), I argue that, in the specific context of the Poland’s FDI-based growth regime and dependent market economy, “comprador” bankers used their political connections to co-opt state actors into renationalizing foreign-owned Polish banks and into creating new development finance institutions to support the growth of indigenous firms. Moreover, comprador bankers played a crucial role in operationalizing new industrial policies for which state actors, indigenous entrepreneurs and “compradors” all simultaneously started pressing in the 2010s. Comprador bankers’ motives were their frustration at their weak managerial autonomy in their foreign-headquartered MNCs and their concerns about the negative macro-economic implications of their parent banks’ attempts to capture their Polish subsidiaries’ excess liquidity during the GFC in order to improve their own liquidity positions.  

Marek Naczyk is associate professor in comparative social policy at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford, and an official fellow of Kellogg College. His research focuses on the comparative political economy of the welfare-finance nexus in OECD countries and on the politics of developmentalism in Central and Eastern Europe since the global financial crisis. He has previously held post-doctoral appointments at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and at the Centre d'études européennes at Sciences Po in Paris.

Jan Drahokoupil is a senior researcher at the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) where he coordinates research on digitalization and the future of work. His recent publications include The limits of foreign-led growth: Demand for skills by foreign and domestic firms (with Brian Fabo, 2020) and The challenge of digital transformation in the automotive industry: Jobs, upgrading and the prospects for development (2020).

Dr Tim Vlandas (St Antony's College, Oxford) will be Chair.

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