Document Type

Book Chapter


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management., History

Publication Details

Donnelly, P. (2010) ‘Forming Ireland’s Industrial Development Authority’, in J. Hogan, P. Donnelly and B. O’Rourke (eds) Irish Business and Society: Governing, Participating and Transforming in the 21st Century. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.


Tracing the creation and (re)production of Ireland’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA) through the lens of path dependence theory, the story charts the IDA’s creation within protectionism. In parallel with the gradual shift away from protection towards free trade, the story follows the IDA’s emergence as the state’s pre-eminent industrial development agency, its re-creation as a state-sponsored organisation and the growing political, institutional and monetary resources afforded it in return for delivery on objectives, largely in the shape of new job creation. However, the increasing reliance on foreign investment to meet targets, at the expense of indigenous industry, eventually surfaces as a challenge in the early 1980s and culminates in the IDA being split into separate agencies in 1994. Today, supporting export-oriented, foreign multinational organisations, which employ some 136,000 people and account for some for €110bn or 70 per cent of total exports, and continuing to promote and attract inward investment (IDA, 2010), IDA Ireland remains an important organisation in the Irish enterprise development institutional landscape.