HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series
HKS Working Paper No. RWP23-012
We are today in the midst of a transition away from what has come to be called “neoliberalism,” with much uncertainty about what will replace it. We might approach the absence of a solidified new paradigm with mixed feelings. On the one hand, we certainly do not need yet another orthodoxy offering cookie cutter solutions and ready-made blueprints for nations and regions with very different circumstances and needs (Rodrik, 2021a). On the other hand, economic policy needs to be guided by an overall animating vision. If history is a guide, the vacuum left by the waning of “neoliberalism” will soon be filled by a new paradigm – and the more appropriate and adaptable that paradigm, the better. I describe in this essay an approach that I call “productivism.” This is an approach that prioritizes the dissemination of productive economic opportunities throughout all regions of the economy and segments of the labor force. It differs from what immediately preceded it (“neoliberalism”) in that it gives governments (and civil society) a significant role in achieving that goal. It puts less faith in markets and is suspicious of large corporations. It emphasizes production and investment over finance, and revitalizing local communities over globalization. It also departs from the Keynesian welfare state – the paradigm that “neoliberalism” replaced -- in that it focuses less on redistribution, social transfers, and macroeconomic management and more on creating economic opportunity by working on the supply side of the economy to create good, productive jobs for everyone. And productivism diverges from both of its antecedents by exhibiting greater skepticism towards technocrats and being less instinctively hostile to populism in the economic sphere (Rodrik, 2018).
Rodrik, Dani. "On Productivism." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP23-012, March 2023.