The post-communist states of Central and Eastern Europe have gone from being among the world's most closed, autarkic economies to being some of the most export-oriented and globally integrated. While previous accounts have attributed this shift to post-1989 market reform policies, Besnik Pula sees the root causes differently. Reaching deeper into the region's history and comparatively examining its long-run industrial development, he locates critical junctures that forced the hands of Central and Eastern European elites and made them look at options beyond the domestic economy and the socialist bloc.
In the 1970s, Central and Eastern European socialist leaders intensified engagements with the capitalist West in order to expand access to markets, technology, and capital. This shift began to challenge the Stalinist developmental model in favor of exports and transnational integration. A new reliance on exports launched the integration of Eastern European industry into value chains that cut across the East-West political divide. After 1989, these chains proved to be critical gateways to foreign direct investment and circuits of global capitalism. This book enriches our understanding of a regional shift that began well before the fall of the wall, while also explaining the distinct international roles that Central and Eastern European states have assumed in the globalized twenty-first century.
About the author
Besnik Pula is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Program in International Studies at Virginia Tech.
"Besnik Pula takes another brick off the massive wall of myths surrounding Central and Eastern Europe by kicking off the pedestal the widely shared view that this region's experience with central planning was autarchic and that industrialization was a pure liability for their turn to capitalism. Instead, Pula's superbly well-researched book shows how the socialist states' rich and complex trade, technological, and institutional interactions with the capitalist West's value and supply chains paved the way for their emergence after 1989 as some of the world's most transnationally integrated economies. This is empirically nuanced, theoretically astute, and context sensitive social science at its best."
—Cornel Ban, City, University of London
"This book offers an excellent, well-researched, and highly original analysis. Pula's sophisticated and persuasive argument provides a valuable corrective to studies that overlook or overemphasize the role of socialist legacies in shaping economic reform in Central and Eastern Europe."
—Rudra Sil, University of Pennsylvania
"Abundant with quantitative macroeconomic comparative-historical data, nuanced with numerous qualitative interviews, and addressing some tough issues with answers based on an intimate knowledge of the region and its history, and above all challenging long-held faulty assumptions of the nature and dynamics of socialist states, this book deserves the careful attention of those who are interested in the study of globalization and the evolution of transnational capital in Central and Eastern Europe."––Berch Berberoglu, Social Forces
"Pula offers an original interpretation of economic development both under and after socialism that deserves to be widely read."
—Erik Jones, Survival
"[This book is] well-written and shows the author's deep knowledge of this subject....Regional scientists, especially those studying integration of the post-socialist countries in Eastern Europe, should find the book of value."
—Tuyen Pham, The Review of Regional Studies
"[What] Pula endeavored to accomplish is enormous and an enormously difficult task. Ultimately, I suggest we appreciate it as an invitation to a more agency- and practice-centered economic history, one that starts to give Eastern Europe its due in shaping global economic outcomes."
—Zsuzsa Gille, Contemporary Sociology