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The Emergence of Developmental States from a New Institutionalist Perspective

A Comparative Analysis of East Asia and Central Asia


Manuel Stark

This book addresses the relevance of institutional arrangements in East Asian developmental states for the Central Asian countries. It is argued that the Central Asian transition countries share crucial similarities with the economies of East Asia. By a detailed analysis of historical developments in Northeast and Southeast Asia, a coherent and comprehensive model of the developmental state on the basis of the New Institutional Economics is developed in this book. This model is applied to Central Asia by a comparative study on the basis of semi-structured interviews that were carried out in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Both Central Asian countries show notable similarities but also crucial differences to the East Asian developmental states.


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Economists, political scientists, and development practitioners have offered nu- merous convincing explanations of why development projects often fail or pol- icy and institutional reforms are implemented only half-heartedly and do not materialize as expected. In fact, empirical research confirms that the vast major- ity of less or least developed countries experienced a slow or highly volatile economic growth performance over the last sixty years. Only a few countries managed to sustainably grow over a long period of time with only minor or short recessions, but with social progress and significant reductions in poverty. Al- most all of these high-performing economies are located in East Asia. This book is dedicated to these so-called developmental states. The study addresses the question why and how successful economic catching-up processes could be realized. The author applies Chalmers Johnson’s developmental-state approach and improves its theoretical foundation so that it gains explanatory power and becomes applicable to a greater variety of research questions. This approach, located at the interface of economics and politics, is being theoreti- cally founded by linking it to Douglass C. North’s theory of institutional change. Thereby, the author is able to explain success and failure of economic reform and catching-up processes by accounting for the importance of political, eco- nomic, and social institutions, formal as well as informal ones, in political set- tings in which governments assume an active role in shaping and conducting economic policies. Confronting the reader with detailed, comprehensive case studies of devel- opmental states in Asia, Manuel Stark...

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