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SPRU Professor joins Austrian Chancellor for public debate

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern and Professor Mariana Mazzucato / Photo: Daniel Novotny

Professor Mariana Mazzucato discussed her work with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern in a specially organised public debate in Vienna on Friday 18 November 2016. 

The event was arranged as a result of Chancellor Kern’s interest in Professor Mazzucato’s work. His references to her book – The Entrepreneurial State: debunking public vs. private sector myths – and its ideas have been widely reported in the Austrian media.

Chancellor Kern met Professor Mazzucato privately before the event, tweeting:

During the debate, Professor Mazzucato discussed the importance of government action for investment and long-term growth, focussing on the underappreciated role of state-financed research and development, and endorsing new kinds of deals between public and private sectors.

Key to this is sharing not only the risks but also the rewards – a recipe for smart, inclusive growth, which she discussed in a recent article for the New Statesman.

Interviewed recently by Austrian magazine Profil, Professor Mazzucato emphasised the need for mission-oriented state investment, not only in Europe but also in the US following Donald Trump’s election.

Opening the event, Professor Mazzucato said: “I was very inspired when I first heard about how Chancellor Kern was using the iPhone example because for me it’s not enough to talk about innovation. It’s really what it means for our ability, as progressives, to have a new theory of where wealth comes from.

“And if we really take that seriously, to understand the role of the public sector, in actively being a co-creator – with the business community, with the third sector, with civil society – in creating value and wealth, and to change the way we talk about the “wealth creators”, then I think the progressive agenda will start to have a strong story to tell.”

Taking the floor after her presentation, Chancellor Kern responded: “What I’ve learned in the last six months is that politics is always about prevailing ideas, and for me it makes a lot of sense to discuss alternative approaches to progressive politics. Mariana has contributed a lot to that this evening in her impressive and inspiring presentation… We have to learn and we can learn a lot from the economic analysis of Mariana and some others.”

Prior to meeting Chancellor Kern, Professor Mazzucato spoke at the annual Drucker Forum 2016, which was this year titled ‘The Entrepreneurial Society’.

Participating in the session “The State as Enabler, Investor, Innovator,” Professor Mazzucato debated the “right role for the state, and the right focus of policymakers’ interventions”. In advance of the event, Professor Mazzucato was interviewed for the Drucker podcast and wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review.

Professor Mazzucato’s visit to Austria follows a trip in August, during which she spoke at the European Forum Alpbach. A year before she also gave a keynote lecture on ‘Mission-Oriented Public Organisations: sharing the risks and the rewards’ to the Austrian Association of Towns and Cities where the audience included then President Heinz Fischer and 250 mayors from Austria’s larger cities and towns.

Watch the event:

The 18 November event was organised by the Society for Pluralism in Economics Vienna and the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue.

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Posted on behalf of: SPRU
Last updated: Tuesday, 29 November 2016


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