It is increasingly recognized that effective state interventionism is a key ingredient of successful integration into the global economy. Indeed, some of the most successful cases of economic growth during the past two decades such as China, India, and South Korea are not typical examples of free market liberalism. They are examples of controlled integration into the global economy and differ from many other less successful late industrializing or emerging market countries in terms of the degree and depth of state interventionism during key phases of their development experience. What appears to matter the most for successful development is the synergy of the state and the market.
Sadık Ünay makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the nature of state interventionism and planning in Turkey. Although the focus is on the Turkish experience, the study is clearly situated in the broader debates on development. The book is based on Ünay’s Machester PhD thesis completed under the supervision of Paul Cammack. The author adopts a critical institutionalist approach to international political economy which pays specific attention to the interaction of changing domestic policy regimes, interest formations and international policy environments. The book tells the story of planning in Turkey from the late Ottoman times to the present era of neo-liberal re- structuring. One of the most interesting parts is the chapter on the golden age of development experience in Turkey during the 1960-1980 period. The author presents rich empirical evidence based on field research. Ünay tries to explain the difficulties confronting effective planning in Turkey even at a time when the State Planning Organization (the SPO) was at the peak of its influence. There are some interesting comparisons with the East Asian experiences to illustrate why planning in Turkey was less successful. Countries such as South Korea also applied a form of planning for successful export-oriented industrialization based on market-augmenting rather than market repressing type of interventionism. In this context, the book clearly builds on and ex- tends previous analyses (Öniş, 1998).
Another major chapter of the book is on the decline of development planning in Turkey during the post-1980 neo-liberal era. Again Ünay presents a detailed analysis of major political and institutional shifts in Turkey associated with the process of neo- liberal globalization. Ünay provides a valuable account of the demise of planning in Turkey and highlights the increasing marginalization of the SPO during the 1980s and the 1990s as part of the broader process of state restructuring. A major implication of the book which is developed in the final part is that there is a need to revitalize “strategic planning” in Turkey, but in a way quite different from the way that it was practiced during the import-substitution era.
Ünay’s book is a solid contribution to the growing literature on the political economy of Turkey, and is framed in explicitly comparative terms and in the context of broader debates on development. It is clearly relevant to the present day discussions of economic policy in Turkey in the face of the on-going global financial crisis. Arguably, the Turkish state’s response to the crisis so far has been rather reactive and focused on short-term recovery through stimulating consumption. The experience also shows the need for a coordinated response to the crisis with a focus on longer-term issues such as industrial restructuring, tax reform, education reform and so on. The Turkish state’s response to the crisis so far has also been quite fragmented. Possibly the main reason for this fragmented response is the absence of an institution to play this kind of strategic role. Perhaps what we need today is a revitalization of the SPO, but certainly under a different name (i.e The Policy Co- ordination Agency or something similar) to perform this kind of strategic-coordination mission. This kind of agency with a newly defined mission could play a critical role in bringing key bureaucratic, business and societal actors together to develop longer-term responses to the major challenges confronting Turkey in a new and highly uncertain phase of globalization.
Öniş, Ziya. 1998. State and Market. The Political Economy of Turkey in Comparative Perspective (Istanbul: Boğaziçi University Press).