• Neoliberalisation, fast policy transfer and the management of labor market services

      Nunn, Alex; University of Derby (Taylor & Francis, 2019-06-27)
      Neoliberalism has been a core concern for IPE for several decades, but is often ill-defined. Research offering greater definitional clarity stresses the role of contingent and local level factors in diverse processes of neoliberalisation. This paper contributes to that literature, addressing a surprising gap in critical IPE knowledge; the management practices by which pressures to activate the unemployed and to make them more competitive, are implemented. The paper suggests that performance management, is significant as both a depoliticising policy coordination mechanism and a highly politicised policy implementation practice. The paper invokes a scalar-relational approach which sees the pressure to innovate and compete at lower scales as driven by the political economy of competitiveness at the system scale. The paper reports on research undertaken within the empirical frame of EU meta-governance, showing how performance management is part of lower-scale attempts to adapt to system-scale pressures. It is neoliberalising in both form and content. It concludes by showing that while performance management may be a significant component of neoliberalisation there is scope for engagement and contestation motivated by egalitarian ideals. Critical IPE scholars interested in contesting neoliberalisation should therefore engage with the political economy of management practice as well as policy design.