The Complexity and Instability of Policy Conditionality and Transfer: IMF Interventions in the Political Economy of South America.


  • David Alemna The University of Brighton
  • Kepa Artaraz The University of Brighton
  • Philip Haynes The University of Brighton
  • Shadreck Mwale Brighton and Sussex Medical School



Dynamic Pattern Synthesis, International Monetary Fund, South America, Policy Conditionalities, Macroeconomic Instability


International Monetary Fund (IMF) interventions have evolved in the last sixty years based on the predominant orthodoxy in world political economy with a focus in recent decades on encouraging liberal market conditions to secure inward investment and capital flows. This has resulted in a dominant model of policy conditions and transfer, but with a debate about the contextual relevance. This paper uses an innovative approach to longitudinal research, called Dynamic Pattern Synthesis, to compare the economic performance of South American nations between 2000-2015. The results from using this method illustrates multifinality in the IMF outcome of encouraging foreign direct investment. A complex configuration of influences on this outcome are evidenced. Complexity theory is used to explain the results, with the continent defined as a complex system that does not respond to simple causal policy mechanisms, but rather displays different patterns of political and economic influence in the context of global market instability. Different foreign direct investment configurations result, and these illustrate that international monetary and policy interventions need to be contextual and cannot make simplistic and universal assumptions about policy problems and their mechanistic solutions.