International Political Economy focuses on the interaction between economy and politics in global contexts. As an interface discipline between political science and economics it tries to fill a conceptual vacuum between international economics and international relations: While economists traditionally tend to neglect the significance of political positions of power in external economic relations, political scientists constantly underestimate the role of exchange and co-operation in international politics.
As the objective is an integrative perspective of disciplines belonging together, namely politics and economics, International Political Economy is of fundamental importance to the “Philosophy, Politics, and Economics” (PPE) Bachelor and Master programmes at Witten/Herdecke University.
The focus of our research activities is on the international dimension of social change and development processes. The aim is to always consider the correlation between economic and political processes. A special focus is on the international transfer of institutions: Problems may occur if less developed countries adopt (either voluntarily or under pressure from international organizations like the World Bank or IMF) the rules of economy and politics applied in more developed countries. Further key areas are the influence of ideas on institutional change processes and the history of economic theory.
Our research and teaching activities aim at viewing economic processes increasingly in their political, social and cultural contexts again. Such a contextual perspective supplements the discipline’s specialist knowledge and is essential in order to understand the global issues of the 21st century.
Based on this conviction, Joachim Zweynert has published „Schmollers Jahrbuch. Journal of Contextual Economics“ together with Nils Goldschmidt, University of Siegen, and Erik Grimmer-Solem, Wesleyan University, since 2016. He is also founding director of the Witten Institute for Institutional Change (WIWA) with its interdisciplinary approach to analyzing economic, political and social change processes.
Our teaching activities focus on issues of globalization and global governance, economic development and international social inequality. As these topics shoulder a lot of normative weight, our teaching activities aim at analytically deconstructing the widespread myths about globalization – for example, that globalization lowers social standards – and at confronting them with compelling empirical findings.
It is our didactic concern to enable the students to confidently handle the diversity of possible perspectives which is confusing at first but inevitably results from working at the interface between two disciplines. In particular, we aim at exploring how the findings of political science and economics may stimulate each other in order to better understand the issues of a global economy being closely intertwined.
The seminars are based on primary literature to be individually prepared by the students. We foster and demand active student involvement.
Joachim Zweynert was one of the initiators and during the second funding period vice-coordinator of the inter-university and multidisciplinary Network of Excellence addressing institutional change processes in post-socialism. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research funded the project with over two million euros for a period of six years from 2010 to 2015. The research alliance was coordinated at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich.
The project aims to apply the 'theory of limited und open access orders' proposed by Douglass C. North and colleagues. This theory addresses the interdependence of economic and political development processes. We examine the theory’s validity from a systematic and comparative perspective. Moreover, we explore the long-term economic and political development of various countries in continental Europe.
In 2013 and 2014 respectively, two workshops took place at the Walter Eucken Institute in Freiburg in order to discuss the concept’s sustainability for Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries. The workshops were funded by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (2013) and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation (2014). Steven B. Webb (World Bank) and Joachim Zweynert published the findings in a special issue of the „Constitutional Political Economy“ (26, 1, 2015).
Another workshop took place in collaboration with the Regensburger und Münchener Graduiertenschule für Ost- und Südosteuropastudien at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich in December 2015. The participants examined countries in the South and South-East of Europe on the basis of the 'limited and open access orders' concept.
Joachim Zweynert has published various essays on Russian Post-Soviet reform debates. They address the issue whether the relative failure in transforming the Russian Federation can be traced to the prevailing (economic) ideas in Russia. Currently, Joachim Zweynert prepares the publication of a monograph building on these former essays; the monograph’s working title is “When Ideas Fail. Russian Economic Debates. 1987-2012“.
This research project addresses the significance of ideas for organizing the US-American economic policy during the post-war period, such as the idea of US trade policy liberation. The doctoral thesis examines ideational influences; in particular, how it was possible to transform the prevailing protectionist economic policy and foster an increasing commercial openness instead. The focus is on the role of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reform Act. Its socio-political measures were intended to support the 'losers' of free trade.