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What made Economists so Politically Influential? Governance-related Ideas and Institutional Entrepreneurship in the Economic Liberalisation of Israel and beyond

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Liberal economists are known to be one of the driving forces behind economic liberalisation in various countries, but how did they become so politically influential? Constructivists generally suggest that during economic crises liberal economists persuaded decision-makers to adopt pro-market policy ideas as solutions for economic turbulence. While this answer is true, it is also only partial because it disregards the role played by governance-related ideas and institutional entrepreneurship in the political actions of liberal economists. I argue that ideas regarding decision-making mechanisms provided liberal economists with the basis for creatively exploiting pre-liberalisation institutions, such as central banks and central budget offices, through which these economists enhanced their long-term political influence. An in-depth examination of a paradigmatic case of economic liberalisation driven by liberal economists – Israel's Stabilisation Plan – exemplifies that argument. The existence of like-minded economists and similar pre-liberalisation policy-making institutions in many other countries hints that the Israeli experience is not unique.
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Keywords: Israel; constructivism; constructivist institutionalism; discursive institutionalism; economic liberalization; economics; neoliberlism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, POB 4070, Jerusalem, 9104001, Israel

Publication date: November 2, 2015

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