The Knowledge-Based Economy, Identities and the Transforming State, 2007

The idea of the conference may be summed up in a question: How can societies achieve economic growth without forfeiting the social cohesion and democratic values that may arguably be the sine qua non of successful globalisation?

"MatchPoints" represents an innovation in academic culture. First, it aims to bring together people from academia, the business world, political life, the civil service and organisations. Secondly, it is a result of a transnational and trans-institutional collaboration of an unusual kind and scale. "MatchPoints" is also unusual in its great number of invited speakers. Still, there will be room for plenty of workshops to which international researchers and scholars may contribute.

The conference will take its point of departure in a series of comparisons between Denmark and Ireland. So far, these two countries have been extremely successful in adapting to the globalised market, and they are now two of the world's richest economies. The Danish and Irish models will serve as examples and points of reference which will open up for a more general discussion of the tendencies, counter-tendencies and nature of globalisation.

All over Europe - and also in Ireland and Denmark - there is now general agreement among experts and political decision makers that in order to achieve economic growth in the future, there is a vital need for investment in research and innovation, in value-added production, in high-tech production equipment and in creating a highly educated workforce - both on national and local levels. But there is also an increasing awareness that success in the global marketplace will depend on more than this. Even now, competitiveness may be seen also as a result of more immeasurable factors such as "social capital" and "social capability", i.e. a country's institutional, cultural and human resources. The so-called Danish ("flexecurity") model, which has caused global attention over the past few years, is a product of a particular institutional and social tradition and history. It thus exemplifies how new methods of analysis are crucial if we want to understand why economic globalisation creates both winners and losers, and why globalisation is not a unitary force with the same effects everywhere in the world.

Against neo-liberal orthodoxy and expectations, globalisation now also seems to call for "bringing the state back in", but in a new way. Again, Ireland and Denmark may be used as examples since the economic success of both countries may partly be explained as a result of institutionalised dialogues and partnerships between the private and the public sectors. Both showcase how the state may participate in economic development as a market facilitator: through modernising regulation, creating an enterprise culture and investing in research, innovation, education and the up-skilling of the workforce. The two examples also show a general trend today: How political government is increasingly supplemented by instruments of more indirect "governance" that blur the distinctions between the public and the private sectors.

It is obvious to many contemporary experts and political observers that the market, civil society and the state share an interest in achieving economic growth and competitiveness without forfeiting vital social and political needs such as social cohesion and stability, environmental sustainability, democratic accountability, and the active participation of the citizenry in a multi-level system of political governance. The conference will explore whether this assessment is correct. It will also examine and discuss how these exigencies interact and may be met.