Rethinking the Role of the State and Innovation in Economic Growth: How East Asia May Have Misled Us On Both Issues

Professor Samuel Cohn , Texas A and M University

Thinking about the role of the state in development and the role of innovation in development has been distracted by the spectacular successes of the East Asian nations. The East Asian nations are dramatic cases of transformative development - development greater than that which would be expected from historical precedent. However, not all nations are at risk of transformative development. Concentration on transformative development forces development scholars to be silent on the 98% of all nations that can not realistically hope to achieve transformative development because they lack the preconditions for transition that were present in East Asia.

For such nations - we need to consider PALLIATIVE development - the study of what maximizes human income or human welfare in the face of any given level of economic development. Palliative development is humanistic, equitable and articulated rather than disarticulated. However, it calls for different models of the state than those advocated by proponents of developmentalist states. The relevant theorist for palliative development is James O'Connor. Data from Brazil and elsewhere are used to show the applicability of O'Connorian models to raising employment and income among poverty populations.

For those scholars who insist that nothing less than TRANSFORMATIVE development will do - the East Asian cases are still misleading. This is because the actual population of transformative economies are different from those customarily invoked in the literature. A proper statistical specification of what transformative development really means identifies a new set of nations that should be the ideal types for how to produce dramatic breakthroughs in economic development. These nations show a different model of state action and innovation from those associated with East Asia.


About the speaker
Professor Samuel Cohn is the founder and first president of the American Sociological Association Section on Development. His book on gender and development - Process of Occupational Sextyping (1985)- and his book on the state and development - Employment and Development Under Globalization (2012) - have both won book prizes from the American Sociological Association. He is a professor of Sociology at Texas A and M University and is currently researching the crystallization of the world into core and periphery between 1870 and 1950.

Venue: Conference Room

Date: 08 May 2014

Time: 12:30 - 13:30


UNU-MERIT