Polish Economic Society as a Member of International Economic Association
International Cooperation of the Polish Economic Society
(by Stanisław Rudolf)
One of the priorities in the activities of the Polish Economic Society (PTE) is the international cooperation. It is an important complement to the national activities of the PTE, as well as expansion and enrichment of what we offer to our members and employees of Polish universities, as well as economic practitioners. Such cooperation is carried out by both the National Board of the PTE as well as some branches of our Society. It includes such activities as:
- Cooperation with international organizations of economists;
- Participation of representatives of the PTE in foreign seminars and conferences;
- Strengthening the position of Polish economists in the international arena;
- Support for local Branch Offices of the PTE in establishing cooperation with foreign countries;
Below we make brief overview of these activities
Cooperation with international organizations of economists
This cooperation focuses on three organizations, namely the International Economic Association (IEA), the European Economic Association (EEA) and the Congress of Political Economists, International (COPE).
The IEA was established in 1950 and brings together national associations of economists. Currently, nearly 60 such associations are members of the IEA. The current activities of the organization are supported, among others, by UNESCO, the World Bank, and the European Commission. The Polish Economic Society has been an active member of this organization for many years. A representative of the PTE is a member of the Council of this organization.
It is one of the two largest and most prestigious international organizations of economists. The other one is the European Economic Association. These organizations do not compete, but rather complement each other. They differ in terms of structure, range, number of participants, the frequency of organized congresses, etc.
IEA Congresses are held every three years and are undoubtedly the most prestigious events in the environment of economists. The prestige of these meetings results mainly from the fact that the most prominent economists with significant scientific achievements, including Nobel Prize winners, attend them, as well as because of the importance of the ongoing discussion there, the proposals etc. It is worth noting that the position of the organization was built by its successive presidents, among which may be mention such well-known economists as E. A. G. Robinson, P. A. Samuelson, E. Lundberg, K. J. Arrow, A. B. Atkins, R. M. Solow, and J. Kornai. The IEA Congresses are held on different continents, and usually are an important event for the countries in which they take place.
The highest authority of the IEA is the Council composed of representatives of national associations. The Council assembles every three years, usually the day before the Congress. It takes important decisions regarding the activities of the organization, including personnel decisions. The Council elects the 18-member Executive Committee which makes important decisions between Congresses. The Council also elects a President-elect who, after three years, automatically becomes the President, and a Vice President and Treasurer. After the end of the Congress in Beijing, which took place in 2011, Professor Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University, USA, Nobel laureate of 2001, became the president. He is well-known to the Polish economists from numerous publications. In 2011, the PTE publishing house released his book entitled “Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy”. The next IEA World Congress will be held in June 2014 in Jordan.
In their papers presented at congresses authors often use quantitative methods. The papers refer to the current economic problems of a global nature. There were also plenty of theoretical papers. Usually, most papers dealt with the issues of broadly defined finance (fiscal and monetary policy, financial markets, exchange rates, taxes, etc.) and they were the subject of discussions both in plenary and parallel sessions. While discussing financial issue it was particularly easy for participants to find a common language. A lot of attention in the lectures was devoted to labour issues (employment, unemployment, migration, new brain drain, etc.). Such issues as globalization, economic growth, inflation, and what should be emphasized, global warming were quite often raised.
The issue of transformation in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe was relatively rarely raised. This may be due to the fact that the economists from these countries relatively rarely attend the congresses. The participation of economists from Poland is also very modest. In recent years, however, this has shown some improvement, as evidenced by the fact that twice as many Polish economists attended the Congress in Beijing than the Congress in Istanbul. This may be due to travel scholarships for young economists sponsored by the PTE.
EEA Congresses are held every year and are attended by 1500 - 1800 participants. In contrast to the IEA, the membership in this organization is individual. Although formally it is a European association, both among its members and participants of the congresses one can meet economists from all continents. Young economists, mostly lecturers and doctoral students, as well as students dominate among them. The congresses of the organization are located in European countries. From 26 to 30 August 2013, the Congress was held in Gothenburg, Sweden, and gathered more than 1,600 participants. The discussion at the Congress was dominated by problems of economic recession, the barriers to the development of the European Union, international finance, etc. The Congress was attended by several Polish, mostly young economists. Only some of them were delegated by Polish universities, while some were doctoral students who study in Western countries. The next Congress will be held in Toulouse, France on 25 - 29 August and will be hosted by Toulouse School of Economics.
The third of these organizations, Congress of Political Economists, International (COPE) is less numerous, but brings together economists from many countries. COPE holds its congresses every year, but unlike EEA and IEA congresses COPE’s congresses are thematic. Their subjects are, however, quite generally formulated, which makes them open to economists of various specializations. These one-week conferences are usually held in very attractive locations. Polish economists play a leading role in COPE, due to the large number of participants in these congresses, as well as participation in the authorities of the organization. Currently, Professor Irena Hejduk from the Warsaw School of Economics holds the post of President of COPE. The Board of Directors of COPE includes seven Polish representatives (M. Gorynia, W. Grudzewski, I. Hejduk, A. R. Kozłowski, R. Matera, S. Rudolf, and P. Urbanek).In July, 2012, the COPE Congress was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The next Congress will be held from 6 to 12 July, 2014 in Zurich, Switzerland under the slogan “Sustainable global and regional development”. We anticipate that it will be attended by a record number of Polish economists. The COPE’s congresses are followed by annually issued monographs in English.
The participation of representatives of the PTE in foreign seminars and conferences
Annual seminars organized in Germany in Vlotho on the river Weser constitute a special type of international cooperation of the PTE. The seminars are organized by the National Board of the PTE and the Ludwig-Erhard Foundation based in Bonn. Some 20 - 25 participants from Poland take part in the seminars, including representatives of academic institutions from across the Poland, students, the winners of the “Knowledge of Economics” competition, and entrepreneurs. These seminars are almost entirely financed by the said foundation. The seminars are focused on the important issues of social market economy. Seminar participants are trying to deepen their knowledge of social market economy and deliberate on the possibility of re-implementing this concept in the currently existing conditions. Meetings with outstanding scientists and German politicians are an important part of the seminar agenda.
Between 11 and 25 August 2013, the 22nd consecutive seminar took place. Its topic was, “The concept of social market economy and its implementation in the German Federal Republic and Poland.” Participants pointed to the dead provision in the Polish constitution saying that the “social market economy (...) is the basis of the economic system of the Republic of Poland”. This concept was sidetracked under the influence of the then current economic and social problems. In discussions at the seminar it was stressed that this concept is again gaining importance in the context of the continuing financial crisis and that ordoliberalism provides a strong and viable alternative to the contemporary dominant neoliberalism. During the discussion it was also pointed out that it was desirable to seek solutions to existing problems exactly in the concepts of ordoliberalism. The Polish Economic Society also works with the Free Economic Society (VEO) of Russia. It is the oldest, (founded nearly 250 years ago), the largest (about 300 thousand members), and the most influential organization of Russian economists. Representatives of the PTE and VEO meet on a regular basis both in Moscow and Warsaw. A representative of the PTE participated in the VEO Congress that took place in Moscow in 2010. The proceedings of the congress focused on the problems of economic transformation in Russia. The congress, which was attended by about 900 people, was held under the theme: “Deep economic modernization: The basis for the development of Russia.”
The PTE also works with organizations of economists in some European Union countries. Representative of the PTE participated in the Round Table Conference in Italy. He also participated in the annual symposium of the Spanish Economic Association which was held in Granada in Spain and in many other meetings.
Strengthening the position of Polish economists in the international arena
One of the most important tasks on which the PTE has been working for a long time is promotion of Polish economists in the international arena. In recent years, the main effort was focused on increasing the participation of young Polish economists in the Congresses of the EEA and IEA. Such a course of action seems to be justified, because participation in the congress gives them the opportunity to present their scientific achievements, establish contacts with foreign economists, with institutions that use congresses to recruit suitable employees, including academics, etc.
Previous attempts to increase such participation consisted, among others, in posting information about seminars, conferences, and international congresses on the PTE’s website. This was also the purpose of letters addressed to all the Deans of faculties of economics, both public and private universities, encouraging supporting trips of young economists to conferences. The result was, however, quite modest. In recent years, we have tried to grant scholarships for young economists for the IEA and EEA conferences. This solution proved to be the most effective, but difficult to continue for a long time, due to the limited possibilities of obtaining funds from sponsors. It is hoped that the situation will improve when the financial crisis is over.
The 1st Forum of Presidents of Societies of Economists may improve the promotion of Polish young economists in the international arena. There came the proposal to organize in the future the Forum of Young Economists from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. This initiative met with interest and support of the Presidents. It seems, however, that its implementation is still to come.
In examining the causes of under-representation of Polish economists in these congresses we have found that the poor information about congresses may be one of reasons. In 2013, we tried to popularize congresses, sending invitations to over 2000 Polish economists from our mailing list. The next IEA congress in Jordan and the COPE congress in Zurich will show whether our efforts have produced results.
Support for the PTE Branches in establishing international cooperation
Initiatives undertaken by individual PTE Branches may prove to be of key importance for the development of international cooperation. So far, their foreign contacts are scarce. It is definitely a wasted opportunity in making their work more attractive. Trips abroad, exchange of experience, joint seminars with foreign partners can enhance the activity of Branches and can be beneficial for both parties.
Experience shows the wide possibilities of such cooperation in the location of individual Branches. Both local authorities and local governments maintain partnerships with cities and regions in many countries. Analysis of their websites shows that they have several partnership agreements. There are rich organizations of economists in Western countries and cooperation with them can bring tangible benefits. The success of such projects depends on maintaining close contact with local authorities.
The initiatives undertaken by the PTE for international cooperation include projects such as the development of cooperation with Polish economists abroad by adding new people to our website link “Polish economists in the world”, as well as through publication of their books, articles, etc. Other initiatives involve the development and enrichment of the English version of the PTE website, contacts with foreign economists and organizations of economists, website information about conferences and international congresses, organization of seminars in English language with participation of foreign guests, popularization of international cooperation in the “PTE Bulletin” etc.
Information about the 2014 IEA Congress
Meeting of the IEA Council, 17th IEA Congress, June 6 2014, Dead Sea, Jordan