GPE SEMINAR: Managerial Lineages of Neoliberalism – Samuel Knafo

Samuel Knafo (University of Sussex) will be giving the second Global Political Economy research seminar at 4pm on Tuesday 16 February 2016  in G.15, 15-19 Tyndall’s Park Road, University of Bristol. Sam’s research focuses upon issues of financialisation, liberal financial governance, social theory and critical methodologies of social research. His 2013 book, ‘The Making of Modern Finance: Liberal Governance and the Gold Standard’, received the IPEG prize for best book in International Political Economy.

The Managerial Lineages of Neoliberalism

Managerialism is often depicted as a key practice of neoliberalism. Yet, beyond this general acknowledgement, scholars have written very little on the actual relationship between the two. Instead managerial practices are subsumed under a functional reading of neoliberalism. Here, managerial technologies of governance are understood as a straightforward extension of neoliberal theory – the means through which to pursue the self-proclaimed neoliberal goal of promoting market competition.This paper challenges this perspective by emphasising that scholars of neoliberalism too often conflate two very different social lineages: the trajectory of neoliberal theory which, runs through the Mont Pélerin Society; and the development of managerial technologies of governance, which trace back to the 1950s and the pivotal role of the RAND corporation. By making this epistemological shift, it argues instead for the need to analyse managerialism on its own terms, in order to specify both its key features, and the way in which it constituted a paradigmatic shift in governance.

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