Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

The InstitutionalTurn in Development Theory

Robert Robert Boyer, Institut des Amériques

Development is not the search for an optimal static macro-equilibrium but it derives from the art of creating, if not miracles, at least virtuous circles in which social values, organizations, institutions and technological systems co-evolve. Development modes are therefore built upon the discovery of possible institutional arrangements that fulfil two conditions: the viability of the accumulation process and a political legitimacy around an implicit or explicit institutionalized compromise. The survey of economic history reveals a limited number of these modes: import substitution development, export-led, foreign direct investment-led and finally based upon low wage and poor welfare. Contemporary China explores a genuine development mode built upon the acute competition between a myriad of local corporatism under the aegis of a party-State. Most of these modes rely upon the resilience of an open world economy. Its stability is not guaranteed given the obstacles to the defense of global public goods and to the creation of new Commons. Last but not least, the merits of an anthropogenetic model based on education, health and culture should not be underestimated


Keywords: Institutional theory, régulation theory, Commons,development modes

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