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Financialization: in search of some much-needed coherence in its operationalization and in future empirical research

3 June 2019
Photograph of a large banking building in Amsterdam

This blog was written by Pauline Gleadle, Visiting Professor in The Open University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and a member of the OU's Centre for Innovation, Knowledge and Development (IKD). The blog reflects on a recent IKD workshop ‘Financialization: in search of some much-needed coherence in its operationalization and in future empirical research,’ which was held on Thursday 23 May 2019.

The major motive in running this workshop originated in the dramatic increase in mentions of financialization since 2008, within both the academic literatures and the mainstream press, something however unaccompanied by agreement as to what financialization actually is, even with regard to the workshop’s main focus, the financialization of the non-financial corporation (NFC). As discussion of financialization has spread across many academic disciplines, this was reflected in our line-up of speakers: Natascha van der Zwan (Public Administration, Leiden University, The Netherlands), Philip Mader (Development Studies, Institute of Development Studies), Michael Pryke (Open University Geography), Philipp Kern (International Management, Loughborough University), Gerhard Schnyder (International Management, Loughborough University), Daniele Tori (Open University), Hanna Szymborska (Open University Economics) and (Mustafa Erdem Sakinc), Economics, Université Paris 13, Paris, France).

One highlight of the varied programme included the discussion by Natascha van der Zwan and Philip Mader of the upcoming Routledge International Handbook of Financialization which they co-edited with Daniel Mertens. They commented that the largest body of financialization research after 2008 was inter-disciplinary, something reflected in the Handbook. However, challenging the underlying motivation of the workshop, they argued that the definitional vagueness of financialization was itself a strength, so enabling interesting research on the general topic. This was reflected in many of the presentations whereas I, along with my colleague, Dr Stuart Parris, argued the case for greater definitional clarity of the financialization of the NFC so as to aid inter-disciplinary understanding and future research.

We plan to run another financialization research workshop next academic year. Suggestions for possible themes include particular aspects of financialization in developing countries or else the financialization of the everyday. If you have any suggestions for themes of a future financialization workshop, please email my colleague Dr Stuart Parris with your ideas.

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