PhD Project: Progressive Industrial Policy in Open Economies: The Case of Georgia

Salome Topuria (PhD candidate University of Kassel, HWR Berlin, IPE)
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Christoph Scherrer, University of Kassel; Prof. Dr. Hansjörg Herr, HWR Berlin


The economic liberalization processes have been common in Georgia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, however rigorous application of the Washington Consensus agenda started in 2004. Georgia was not the first developing country to implement the set of economic recommendations as provisioned by the Washington Consensus but perhaps it was first in implementing them without any reluctance. Georgian government has neither an official strategy nor unified policy directives on extremely important issues such as sustainable economic growth, social inclusion, infant industry protection, FDI management or labor market skill development.

My PhD research scrutinizes the active role of the state in institutionalized sustainable industrial policy. In incorporating the theoretical lenses of state theory and peripheral state, the study elevates the discourse on economic development of small states beyond the developmental state paradigm. Comprehensive frameworks for progressive industrial policy beyond conventional notions of economic growth and catch-up are explored to address wider structural socioeconomic and ecological transformation.

Implementation of industrial policy in small, transition countries is not only a matter of a national strategy, but it is generally determined by global asymmetries. Therefore, to formulate what kind of industrial policy Georgia could implement, it is necessary to first understand the nature and capacity of the Georgian state and which international or domestic power constellations influence and constrain its capabilities. Thus, the thesis will incorporate a critical discourse perspective, including state theory, dependency theory, the regulation school and varieties of capitalism. By combining these theoretical perspectives in the study of Georgia, this research aims to contribute not only to the understanding of a specific country case but also to a broader understanding of theories on developmental policies, the peripheral state and progressive industrial policy.

Further questions to be addressed in this doctoral project include the following: 

  • Which type of industrial policy can be formulated to deliver socioeconomic transformation given the existing domestic economic structures in Georgia?
  • Which state or non-state actors, external and domestic power constellations are impediments to implementing such a policy?

The research is based on a qualitative research design and is a single-case study. It seeks to scrutinize the stature of industrial policy not only in terms of economic growth and industrial catch-up, but more importantly in terms of state-class-capital trajectories, relations and structural socioeconomic transformations.