The next Business History Conference will have “Knowledge” as its main theme. I am planning to organize a panel on the role of international economic advisors to less developed countries after World War II as central actors in the transmission, creation, and transformation of institutional knowledge across countries. International economic advisors are particularly interesting figures in international economic relations, since they are essential intermediaries between different public economic entities, such as countries, central banks, and multilateral institutions. After World War II, foreign economic advisors helped less developed countries establish (and sometimes run) new monetary institutions like central banks, prepare and implement long-term development plans, establish regional or sectoral development agencies and authorities, and coordinate efforts to develop international trade and bring local economies into the new international economic order. During the Cold War, the United States were by far the largest and most active provider of international economic advice. The Soviet Union also played a role, although more limited in scope and area of influence.
Advisors had each a different story: they came from different institutions – including the US State Department, the Federal Reserve, and the World Bank – and brought with them a wealth of personal and institutional knowledge. They had to mediate between their initial – and official – terms of reference, and the specific needs of and pressures by the hosting countries. This was a learning process that shaped the advisors' own body of knowledge, brought feedback to the original institution, and influenced the subsequent career paths of the advisors. From a more theoretical perspective, the advisors' knowledge and its evolution was a fundamental constituent in the shaping of the new field of development economics, specifically as regards the role of central banks and public economic institutions in fostering the economic development of a country.
In sum, economic advisors were both intermediaries and creators of knowledge. They found themselves at the crossroads between local countries or entities and the international settings; economic theory and policymaking. Through their stories, each of them idiosyncratic and unique, we can get an excellent overview of transnational flows of people, ideas, cultures, political and economic relations, and how they connect with each other; this, in turn, offers a fresh perspective on how the postwar international economic landscape took shape.
I invite all the interested scholars to send me a proposal for a paper or an expression of interest by September 15, 2010. Final submission of the panel proposal is due by October 1, 2010. While all paper proposals will be taken into due consideration, a particular focus on the period 1940s-1960s will be preferred, as well as work based on archival material that can broaden our knowledge of advisory activities in the postwar years and link them to the history of politics, ideas, ideologies, and economic history of those times. To discuss possible topics or send a paper proposal, please write to Michele Alacevich at firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2011 Business History Conference will be held in St. Louis, MO on 31 March-2 April 2011.
For the 2011 BHC annual meeting, see http://www.thebhc.org/annmeet/call2011.html
Center for European Studies
Send comments and questions to H-Net
Webstaff. H-Net reproduces announcements that have been submitted to us as a
free service to the academic community. If you are interested in an announcement
listed here, please contact the organizers or patrons directly. Though we strive
to provide accurate information, H-Net cannot accept responsibility for the text of
announcements appearing in this service. (Administration)