This article asks whether there is a discrepancy between the field of International Political Economy (IPE) as we know it from recent debates about its role, distinctiveness, and contribution compared to the experience of its practitioners on the ground? Intellectually IPE is needed more than ever to engage real world events but faces constraining institutional imperatives. We have two interrelated objectives related to this: (1) to assess the extent to which the patterns in recent interventions are replicated when you ask those who self-identify as IPE scholars in the UK (2) to appraise survey data on the reproduction of a particular community of practice within the field as it evolves intellectually and institutionally. Rather than imposing our interpretation of IPE through publications, citation practices, conference attendance, or textbook content we offer two distinct contributions. First, to report new empirical data on IPE as a ‘field of inquiry’ in UK universities; and, second, to develop a critical intervention on the indisciplined nature of IPE as a field of inquiry in the UK. We conclude that the widely acknowledged and long-standing fertile intellectual advantages of IPE's ‘open range’, unlimited intellectual borders and transgressive enquiry bring institutional disadvantages with them.