M. Leimgruber, M. Schmelzer (eds.), The OECD and the International Political Economy Since 1948 (Palgrave 2017)

This book explores the history of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and its place within capitalist development. Since 1948, the OECD and its forerunner, the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) worked on almost every subject of interest to national governments ranging from economic growth to education (PISA rankings), statistics, to the environment. With varying success the OEEC/OECD thus played a key role as a warden of the West and of capitalist development. However, it has remained one of the least understood international organizations. Bringing together a number of case studies by scholars from around the world, this first source-based volume on the history of the  OEEC/OECD in global governance offers not only a new understanding of the Organization’s key areas of activities, but also its multiple relations to member states, other international organizations, and private networks. The volume thus critically re-examines postwar international history, most importantly decolonization and the Cold War, through the prism of one international organization in its various contexts.

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Despite the recent hype around international history and the history of international organizations, the OECD has attracted little scholarly attention so far. This collection of article demonstrates its multi-faceted role as a think tank, but even more importantly as a promotor of industrialized Western countries in a Cold War context and vis-à-vis the Global South. An important book, and an indispensable read for anyone interested in the history of liberal capitalism and international economic governance during the Cold War era.
Kiran Klaus Patel, Maastricht University


read a review by Paul Cammack (emeritus, City University Hong Kong and University of Manchester), 03.2018

One of the great merits of this book is that, as a whole, it offers an OECD radiography that, through the systematic study of its trajectory, allows to qualify the traditional vision of the organization as a mere discussion forum without effective capacities for transform reality substantially.”
Ángel L. González-Esteban, National Distance Education University (UNED), Spain, IberoAmerican Journal of International Studies

Table of Contents

Matthieu Leimgruber and Matthias Schmelzer – Introduction: Writing Histories of the OECD

Matthieu Leimgruber and Matthias Schmelzer – From the Marshall Plan to Global Governance: Historical Transformations of the OEEC/OECD, 1948 to Present

A Short Guide to Historical Archives, Online Resources, and Research Materials on the OEEC/OECD

Part I Being Part of the West

Daniel Stinsky – Western European Vs. All-European Cooperation? The OEEC, the European Recovery Program, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), 1947–1952

Andrej Marković and Ivan Obadić – A Socialist Developing Country in a Western Capitalist Club: Yugoslavia and the OEEC/OECD, 1955–1980

Peter Carroll – Shall We or Shall We Not? The Japanese, Australian, and New Zealand Decisions to Apply for Membership in the OECD, 1960–1973

Patricia Hongler – The Construction of a Western Voice: OECD and the First UNCTAD of 1964

Part II Managing the Economy

Wolfram Kaiser – From Post-war Reconstruction to Multi-level Neo-corporatism: The OEEC/OECD and Steel During the Cold War

Kazuhiko Yago – A Crisis Manager for the International Monetary and Financial System? The Rise and Fall of the OECD Working Party 3, 1961–1980

William Glenn Gray – Peer Pressure in Paris: Country Reviews at the OECD in the 1960s and 1970s

Samuel Beroud – “Positive Adjustments”: The Emergence of Supply-Side Economics in the OECD and G7, 1970–1984

Part III Coping with Socio-ecological Challenges

Emmanuel Comte and Simone Paoli – The Narrowing-Down of the OEEC/OECD Migration Functions, 1947–1986

Regula Bürgi – Engineering the Free World: The Emergence of the OECD as an Actor in Education Policy, 1957–1972

Iris Borowy – Negotiating Environment: The Making of the OECD Environment Committee and the Polluter Pays Principle, 1968–1972

Rianne Mahon – Gendering Development: The OECD’s Development Assistance Committee, 1981–2000