Introduction to the chapter The Wakar School of Economics by Ryszard Bartkowiak (excerpted from Janusz Gedymin Zieliński 1931-1979. Portrait of an economist, Warsaw School of Economics)
If a school of scientific thinking is considered to be a circle of researchers who, initially focus on their master and founder, profess and develop a common scientific view, then it is exactly this sort of school that in the Polish economics was created by Aleksy Wakar. To date, this school, which was called the Wakar school, remains the only Polish economic school. No other group of researchers have ever created a school.
The Wakar school began to develop in the 1930s, its full bloom was in the 1950s and 60s. Despite a radical change in the Polish political system at that time, with the economic system to follow, the school showed a strong attachment to economic theories, which, although created in countries with an economic system different from Polish, were considered correct and, through their modification, they were adjusted to the need of description of the Polish economy.
The SGH Warsaw School of Economics is the first economic university to have been established in Poland. Since its founding, it has been an important scientific centre, with the achievements clearly reflecting both the main issues taken by Polish researchers and the dependence of these issues on the current political system. Despite this dependence, a group of researchers managed to get out of the determinants of the scheme of economics creation and, contrary to the political discontinuity of the Polish history and the discontinuity of the development of social sciences, on the basis of economics showed the stability of thinking, which is nothing but worth admiring. These researchers belonged to the Wakar school of economics.
In such countries as the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States, economic theories emerged together with changes occurring solely in economic processes. All of them referred to a single form of management, which could be called a market economy to a varying degrees regulated by public authorities.
Separate periods of development of economics at the SGH Warsaw School of Economics, and probably also in other Polish academic centers, are:
1949–1989 with a sub-period of 1969–1989,
Between 1906 and 1949, Poland’s political system changed several times: Poland went from no independence to the time of the First World War and to the rebirth of the state after the war, to the German occupation during the Second World War to the post-war reconstruction. Apart from the war time, during which the management typical of the time of peace was not possible, there was a regulated market economy in Poland at that time.
It does not come as a surprise that business regulation, including macroeconomic planning, is considered very significant. It was about the reconstruction after the war and the consolidation of the economy that until then had been subjected to different regimes of three imperial partitioners or had to adapt to the changed national borders (Bartkowiak, Ostropolska-Kubik, 2015, p. 156).
In 1949, there was a fundamental political change, and as a result, the conditions in which the economic thought was created changed. In the years 1949-1989, there was a socialist economy with a strong degree of regulation by public (state) authorities. In fact, it was a transition period from capitalism to socialism, preserving elements of private ownership (few and of a secondary significance). The intention was to abolish this property in order to build a classless society (without private property) and achieve the highest form of social system (communism).
Between 1949 and 1989, there were three major political events – in 1956, 1968 and 1980. They were not discussed here. However, it was necessary to distinguish the sub-period of 1969-1989, when a new economic thought began to develop, forming the scientific basis for the economic transformation (reform) of 1989/90, although the original aim was only to improve the performance of the existing socialist economy under the slogan “more market.”
The fundamental changes began in 1989 with a thorough economic transformation (reform) resulting in the restoration of a market economy in Poland (social in accordance with the provisions of the Polish Constitution and regulated in the language of economics). Then, the new Polish economic thought acquired a different character in comparison with the past. It should be noted, however, that its harbingers appeared already in 1969 as part of the Wakar school, whose representatives offered exceptionally accurate recommendations for the purpose of the conduct of economic policy. Basically, they had been twenty years ahead of the time that inevitably emerged.