Abstract: International Aid and National Entrepreneurship: A Comparative Analysis of Pro-American Business Networks in Southern Europe, 1950-1975

Núria Puig and Adoración Álvaro


This paper deals with the relationship between international economic aid and national entrepreneurship. We examine the design of U.S. economic and technical assistance programs and their impact on the business communities of five Southern European countries (Portugal, Spain, Yugoslavia, Greece, and Turkey) during the Cold War in light of various economic and sociological theories. Using extensive archival research and an in-depth national case study, we argue that U.S. aid, provided by official agencies and private institutions through grants, loans, direct investment, and transfer of technical and managerial knowledge, acted in most cases as a catalyst for technologically advanced entrepreneurs in the Southern European periphery, where influential pro-American business networks emerged or were reinforced. We identify national economic groups, the state, U.S. multinational firms, and a limited number of key individuals from business and government circles, as the principal players of this mesoeconomic entity. We argue that pre- and post-war links to direct U.S. investments were more relevant and had more enduring effects on such networks and the resulting modernization than the assistance programs themselves. A conceptual framework is developed to explain how U.S. economic diplomacy and U.S. multinational firms interacted with national business circles and their environments, and how geopolitics and relative backwardness shaped the expectations and benefits of the groups and individuals involved in each country.

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