Edited by Jean L. Pyle and Robert Forrant
Chapter 4: Recent Developments in Irish-based Industry
4. Recent developments in Irish-based industry1 Mary O’Sullivan I. INTRODUCTION The performance of the economy of the Republic of Ireland (hereafter referred to as Ireland) has improved dramatically in recent years. The favorable trends that have gone into the making of Ireland’s reputation as ‘the Celtic Tiger’ have been driven to an important extent by the performance of Irish-based industry. The historical problems with generating a vibrant, sustainable industrial base in Ireland have been well documented (see O’Malley, 1989; Foley and McAleese, 1991; Ruane, 1991; O’Sullivan, 1995, 2000). Of critical importance, therefore, is the question of whether recent developments in the Irish-based industrial sector constitute a fundamental transformation in its global competitiveness. Does the emergence of the Tiger economy suggest that the dynamics of industrial development have broken with their historical pattern to a signiﬁcant degree? The Irish case is particularly important because its apparent success has caused some other countries to view it as a model for development. In this chapter I analyse recent developments in the Irish industrial sector. The paramount importance of increased levels of economic activity undertaken by foreign enterprises in Ireland in driving improvements in aggregate industrial indicators is unquestionable but there is also evidence, as yet tentative and patchy, of new energy in indigenous industry. The chapter examines whether the recent strong performance of Irishbased industry is evidence of an emergent new trajectory of industrial development: the ambiguities of the empirical evidence concerning this question are emphasized. It is argued that detailed case...
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