Coordinators: Maria Lissowska
Warsaw School of Economics, Poland
Caroline Vincensini
ENS Cachan, France

Comparative economics is a field of research devoted mainly to comparison between economic systems, comparative economic studies sectors and spheres such as welfare, private and public sectors, labour systems, banking and financial systems, mode of production, mode of regulation, privatization, competition, firms, economic organizations, role of the state, government, institutions etc. The complexity of economic systems and the varieties of capitalism is the main source of inspiration of this research area which aims to compare performance, production, consumption, social and economic efficiencies, distribution, poverty, financial crises, organization and institutions of capitalism, socialism, mixed economy, and other forms of organization and of economic systems.

Another important area of interest for the RA on CE is the issues related to the transition to a market economy of previously socialist economies and, more broadly, of countries developing their market economies. The evolution and the institutional change of East-European, post-soviet economies and other transition and emerging countries are very relevant for the RA; in particular: privatization, foreign investment, changes of formal and informal institutions, changes of labour markets, and of wider society. Furthermore, the consequences of financial globalization and of course the paths of recovery after the crisis, and more generally the question of the possible economic growth and development models for the coming years for the transition and emerging economies are also crucial.

More than 20 years after the start of transition of previously communist economies to the market system and almost 10 years of accession of many of them to the European Union, the comparison to their peers – be it from the emerging countries (as Asia nad South America) or from Southern Europe is more and more frequent, as also comparison with the countries which undergo economic transition without political one (China). The question is asked to what degree they are just emerging economies, and to what degree they still constitute a particular variety of capitalism, or maybe they may be treated as elements of different already known varieties.

In comparative economics working on emerging countries, and using the approach of development economics, the impact of institutions and culture was always present, while without strong theoretical basis. It was, on the contrary, initially neglected in the standard analyses of performance of post-communist economies, the assumption being that institutions introduced according to Washington consensus would always perform well. This attitude changed in recent years, when more interests is given to the spontaneous evolution of institutions from the standard ones initially introduced.  It is why EAEPE is an appropriate place to host a Research Area on Comparative Economics.

In the last decade, the approach of comparative analysis and the varieties of capitalism have reached a wider consensus among economists and policy makers. This is a very important signal for the economic studies which would thus benefits of a crucial tool based on the rigorous scientific analysis that the comparative methodology offers.

There is a significant potential in EAEPE for the proposed Research Area. One element is existing Research Area on Structural and Institutional Change in Eastern Europe. This Research Area, working from mid-1990s, and constantly organising 2-4 sessions in each conference, represents a 20 persons group of researchers in contact with RA co-ordinators. However, the field of interest of this group moved outside the Eastern Europe, naturally covering comparison with general or sectoral outlook of other countries. There is also a significant potential of cooperation with the other streams of work of EAEPE – varieties of capitalism and modes of regulation, comparative studies in sectoral research (labour market, finance, foreign direct investment).

Key words: Economic systems, Comparative methods, Comparative institutional analysis, Varieties of capitalism, Transition and emerging economies, Development studies, Welfare, Private and Public sectors, Labour systems, Banking and Financial systems, Role of the state.