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On the Emergence of Developmental States in the Twenty-First Century: Urgency or Agency?

Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)

Abstract

This chapter looks at the origins of the classic developmental states and differentiates between the agency and urgency views explaining the emergence of developmentalist institutions and policies in the twentieth century. By recalling the experiences of the Northeast Asian model-cases it puts special emphasis on the political-economic explanation of Doner et al. (International Organization 59(2): 327–361, 2005), the so-called systemic vulnerability concept, and aims to apply its logic and reinterpret its mechanisms under the new circumstances of the twenty-first century. First it reveals the changes in the external conditions of aspirational developmental states in the first two decades after the Millennium, and highlights the dynamics of contextual changes both in economic and political terms. Then it turns towards the domestic arena and aims to provide a political economy interpretation of the challenges of building developmentalist institutions and strategies in the twenty-first century. The aim is to contribute to a better understanding of the scarcity of catching up success stories and re-open the debate on the origins of developmental states.

Keywords

  • Developmental state
  • Globalization
  • Contemporary state capitalism
  • Systemic vulnerability approach
  • Middle income trap

This research was conducted in the framework of the research project “From developmental states to new protectionism: changing repertoire of state interventions to promote development in an unfolding new world order” (FK_124573) supported by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office (NRDIO) of Hungary.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Wide-ranging debates surround the Chinese growth story and whether it can be considered as a developmental state (see e.g. Boltho and Weber 2009; Knight 2014; Naughton 2017; Székely-Doby 2020). For a rather narrow focus on the new Chinese developmental state and its green industrial policies see Szalavetz, this volume.

  2. 2.

    Though obviously even these societies reveal social stratification and can be clustered around social classes, the argument here is, that social (ethnic, racial, religious) cleveages were much smoother in the cases of classic developmental states, than is usually the case in Latin America, Sub Saharan Africa, or even in many countries in South Asia.

  3. 3.

    The reference here is not to the exclusive and decisive role of Confucianism (as many critics to developmental state highlight that Confucianism was present in these communities even before the World War II, and that Confucianism is also present in other countries in Southeast Asia, such as in Thailand and Malaysia, which did not experience comparable economic miracles), however communitarian values such as obligation and loyalty to the family, obedience to legitimate authority, high value placed on hard work, education and self-discipline have played an important role in the social constructs of classic developmental states (see Pye 1985; Stubbs 2005).

  4. 4.

    According to the embedded autonomy concept the meritocratic bureaucracies of the classic DS are not insulated from the society (in Weberian sense), “on the contrary they are embedded in a concrete set of social ties that binds the state to society and provides institutionalized channels for the continual negotiation and renegotiation of goals and policies” (Evans 1995: 12).

  5. 5.

    https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2018.

  6. 6.

    Fine and Pollen (2017) refer to this challenge as financialization (‘the extraordinary growth of finance’), and highlight its wide-ranging consequences, such as the influence of finance regarding investments, value judgements, and more broadly extending over economic and social policy issues, and as a result constraining (or at least transforming and conditioning) the prospects for development, or even for developmental states to emerge.

  7. 7.

    https://www.imf.org/en/Topics/imf-and-covid19/Policy-Responses-to-COVID-19.

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Ricz, J. (2021). On the Emergence of Developmental States in the Twenty-First Century: Urgency or Agency?. In: Gerőcs, T., Ricz, J. (eds) The Post-Crisis Developmental State . International Political Economy Series. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-71987-6_5

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