[UK] Clientelism, Patronage, Accommodation: Austro-Hungarian, French, and Romanian Business Elites in post-WWI Greater Romania

Mar 07, 2017 06:00 PM
Location: Room 432, UCL SSEES

Máté Rigó (European University Institute)

It is often claimed that the Romanian economy in the aftermath of the First World War was characterized and sustained by a general climate of ethnic nationalism.

The rhetoric of economic protectionism that swept Southeastern and East-Central Europe after 1918 would seem to buttress such an interpretation, yet actual business practices suggest that the picture was not so straightforward. While a Romanian economist lamented in the early 1920s: “Industry and commerce remain the last bastions which the bayonet of the Romanian peasant has been unable to conquer,” it is clear that there were many instances of cooperation and accommodation among Romanian political elites and minority economic elites.

In this lecture I present an alternative analysis of the Romanian economy during the 1920s, arguing that clientelism or patronage systems rather than economic nationalism was its defining characteristic. Patronage relations based on the exchange of economic and political favors routinely crossed ethnic and territorial boundaries within Greater Romania and interwar East-Central Europe more generally. This analysis builds on an analysis of how business was done through these networks in Transylvania, Bucharest, and beyond.