A critical reflection on Irish industrial policy: A Strategic Choice Approach

David Bailey, Helena Lenihan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This paper offers a critical evaluation of recent Irish industrial policy (IP) experience. It argues that whilst Ireland managed to get some things “right” through its IP, substantial tensions arose through making foreign direct investment (FDI) attraction the centrepiece of policy, without at the same time adopting a more holistic approach in IP which inter alia also placed an emphasis on indigenous firms and entrepreneurship more generally. In particular, greater efforts should have been made much earlier in attempting to embed transnational corporation (TNC)-led activity better into the wider economy, in fostering domestic small firms and entrepreneurship, in promoting clusters, and more generally in evaluating IP more fully – notwithstanding the context which mitigated against such actions. As a result, Ireland as an economy remained vulnerable to strategic decisions made elsewhere by TNC decision makers, with IP effectively contributing to a situation that can be characterised as institutional and strategic failure. Overall, the paper suggests that wholesale emulation of the Irish IP approach is problematic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-71
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of the Economics of Business
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2015


  • Ireland
  • strategic choice
  • policy evaluation
  • Transnational Corporations (TNCs)
  • Industrial policy
  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)


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