This research project analyzes how the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) operated during the first quarter century of its existence (1961-1985). Despite the prominence of its expertise in areas ranging from education to finance, but also including labor relations, social policy or the environment, the setting up, development and many-fold activities of the OECD have largely remained off the radar screen of scholarly investigation. In other words, although governments, experts and scholars routinely use, discuss and comment OECD data and recommendations, we still know very little about its trajectory.

Using archival sources, interviews as well as collective biography methods, our research team will chart the functioning, personnel, internal debates and output of the OECD, as well as highlight its role and influence in the global monitoring of contemporary capitalism. Inspired by the new transnational history of international organizations, this project will underscore the links, overlaps, competition and collaboration between the OECD and other international organizations, as well as its connections with academia, national ministries as well as non-governmental structures.

This project will consider the OECD as a observation platform to follow transnational developments during a time-frame linking the apex of postwar growth (late 1960s) with the emergence of the post-Keynesian responses to the crisis (mid 1980s), a long decade that was the laboratory and incubation period of contemporary globalization.

Lead investigator: Prof. Matthieu Leimgruber, Research Institute for Social and Economic History, University of Zurich, Switzerland*
Team: Samuel Beroud, Ludovic Fulleringer, Dr. Matthias Schmelzer
Associated researchers: Dr. Alix Heiniger, Prof. Dominique Pestre, Steven Piguet, Dr. Henning Türk

Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation
research professorship grant PP00P1_139023/1 (2012-2016)

* from 2012 to July 2015 the research team was based at the Paul Bairoch Institute of Economic History, University of Geneva. It is now based at the Research Institute for Social and Economic History, University of Zurich, Switzerland