The forerunner of the OECD was the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), which was formed to administer American and Canadian aid under the Marshall Plan for reconstruction of Europe after World War II. Since it took over from the OEEC in 1961, the OECD vocation has been to build strong economies in its member countries, improve efficiency, hone market systems, expand free trade and contribute to development in industrialised as well as developing countries.
After more than four decades, the OECD is moving beyond a focus on its own countries and is setting its analytical sights on those countries - today nearly the whole world - that embrace the market economy. The Organisation is, for example, putting the benefit of its accumulated experience to the service of emerging market economies, particularly in the countries that are making their transition from centrally-planned to capitalist systems. And it is engaging in increasingly detailed policy dialogue with dynamic economies in Asia and Latin America.
But its scope is changing in other ways too. The matrix is moving from consideration of each policy area within each member country to analysis of how various policy areas interact with each other, across countries and even beyond the OECD area. How social policy affects the way economies operate, for example. Or how globalisation will change the world's economies by opening new perspectives for growth, or perhaps trigger resistance manifested in protectionism.
As it opens to many new contacts around the world, the OECD will broaden its scope, looking ahead to a post-industrial age in which it aims to tightly weave OECD economies into a yet more prosperous and increasingly knowledge-based world economy.