Working Paper
Industrial Policy

Old and New Issues

The debate on industrial policy (IP) has been characterized by a number of contractions over the concept of industrial policy, its merits, contents and application. The purpose of this exploratory paper is to review the debate on IP. Outlining the concept and instruments of industrial policy, the paper reviews the evolution of IP over time, and discusses the current tension between the theory and practice of IP. Contrasting ‘old’ and ‘new’ issues in the debate, a tentative conclusion is that a fragile consensus on IP is within reach. This implies that the future debate—the ‘new’ issues—on IP will need to be increasingly concerned with (i) the ‘how’ of IP rather than the ‘why’, and (ii) with the new challenges and trends that will shape the content of IP.