The 2021 EAEPE Robinson Prize went ex aequo to (1) Isabella Weber for her book titled How China escaped shock therapy.The market reform debate, Routledge (2021), (2)  Franklin Obeng-Odoom for his book titled Property, Institutions and Social Stratification in Africa, Cambridge University Press (2020), and (3)  Jean-Christophe Graz for his book titled The power of standards. Hybrid authority and the globalisation of services, Cambridge University Press (2019).

Isabella Weber

Franklin Obeng-Odoom

I feel encouraged by this recognition.  My work is in original institutional economics, but I have been trying to develop this tradition in three ways by: (i) trying to demonstrate the centrality of land economics to socio-ecological and political-economic problems; (ii) emphasising urban and regional political economy; and (iii) embracing stratification economics. These are quite germane to the mission of EAEPE, but they tend to be on the margins. I hope this award is also a nod to these subfields in our field of evolutionary political economy, and a nudge to others. For, as they say, the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Thank you very much.

Jean-Christophe Graz

 

It is a great honour and pride to receive EAEPE’s Joan Robinson Prize for the best monograph published on a theme broadly in accord with the theoretical perspectives of EAEPE.

I would not dare to compare the book anywhere near the great achievement of Joan Robinson.However, what would come closer might be the effort to keep all sorts of orthodoxies at bay – something for which EAEPE fights for and remains extremely supportive in feeding pluralist and interdisciplinary approaches in political economy and cognate fields of social sciences. This is all the more true that I am not trained as an economist, nor do I teach economics. As a political scientist, I particularly cherish EAEPE in its ability to provide a unique party for those who take the economy as a field of study open to scientific disciplines and critical knowledge, rather than the supposedly legitimate object of a nomothetic and supposedly unified science.

The book aims at refreshing the analysis of the role of standards in the global expansion of services, with in-depth studies of their institutional environment and cases, including the global insurance industry and business process outsourcing in India.

In the same way as manufacturing is inconceivable without standardised nuts and bolts, it is difficult to imagine providing services across borders without proper guarantees regarding the quality and security of the activity expected to be performed to the customer’s satisfaction.

With a focus on the significance of voluntary international standards as privileged instruments in the organisation of contemporary capitalism, the book delves into the space spanning between the two poles of corporate power and State power – or said differently, between transnational capitalism and territorial sovereignty. It focuses on a non-conventional form of authority epitomised by standards, which is conceptualised as transnational and hybrid.

The expected contribution that the book might bring to debates closely related to EAEPE’s theoretical perspectives is related to existing studies drawing on institutional approaches and théories de la regulation. They tend to rest on restrictive hypotheses on the internat° of services, with a focus on the informational, institutional, and sectorial idiosyncrasies hindering trade transactions in services. In contrast, I argue that a perspective inspired by evolutionary and international political economy allows for a more extensive hypothesis. It sheds light on the potentially greater importance of standards without undermining their potential conflicting political economy objectives. This is particularly the case for a range of quality and security requirements likely to have strong soc & pol implications.

In short, the ambiguity of a transnational hybrid authority goes a long way towards explaining the power of standards in the globalisation of services and why they have thrived in the organisation of capitalism over the last decade.

The book available online in Open Access thanks to the funding of Swiss National Science Foundation (https://bit.ly/2FvUCiP)